Noise compels nuns to move out of Brooklyn

Photo credit: Marqués de la Force licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

As I say often, noise does not discriminate-–it can affect everyone: humans, animals, plants. This article by Stephan Revenboer focuses on how noise caused a group of Carmelite nuns of Cypress Hill, cloistered in Brooklyn for almost 20 years, to leave New York City, with noise being a major factor. The noise sources were celebrations in a nearby park and late night parties accompanied by cars with powerful speakers. The police did respond to the complaints about the late-night noise, but after their intervention, the noise returned.

In reading this article, you will notice the words used to describe how blaring music from loud speakers affected the nuns are so similar to the many descriptions of residents in New York City when they describe how noise affected them. “Our walls shook and our windows shattered.” “It was unbearable.” The nuns added that the loud sounds also made them feel unsafe. These loud sounds continued past midnight. The nuns began their days at 5 a.m.

The nuns explained that they understood the value of a park when they complained about park noise, but in addition to the noise the park’s activities brought empty liquor bottles and drug paraphernalia to the steps of the monastery. And then a volunteer who had assisted the nuns with their activities, including informing city officials about park noise., was stabbed to death not far from the monastery. This death added to their desire to leave Brooklyn.

The nuns described their early life in their monastery as “peaceful and amazing.”

How sad that this quiet did not last and noise took over. Again, this happens to so many people in New York City.

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