These days, Bahij Chancey is one of Transportation Alternatives’ most prominent activists — he was profiled in Bklynr last year for his work with TransAlt, and the year before that, he made headlines with a Twitter campaign calling attention to the NYPD’s lax traffic law enforcement. But before he joined TransAlt in 2013, he never thought he had what it took to be an activist.
“As a teenager I found activists so inspiring,” says Bahij, “but they were operating on this whole other level from me. It took seeing the changes we were advocating for become adopted by the DOT before I could say, ‘OK, I’m an activist.’
“To see that citizen advocacy could have an impact on the city where you live was huge for me,” he says. “It’s as simple as that. As I’ve moved up in TransAlt, I try to impart that to new members — not just what we do, but what we accomplish.”
For Bahij, the biggest revelation from his work with TransAlt was our methods. He’d been to plenty of marches and protests before, but he’d never seen a community organizing model like TransAlt’s in action. “It’s all about person-to-person dealings with the power brokers,” he says. “With some organization, with pressure on the right people at the right pressure points, a few people can have a huge impact.”
“I would urge every TransAlt supporter to get involved as an activist,” says Bahij. “There are a large number of TransAlt members who’ve never stepped into an activist or advocacy role. It’s in the organization’s people power that TransAlt finds its strength — we couldn’t accomplish what we accomplish without our activist base.”