One tireless Upper West Side advocate creates a warm and welcoming sense of community
"I don't think the West 83rd Street Block Association could exist without Gail," says friend and neighbor Susan Arterian Chang, for whom her first block association meeting - held in Dubov's apartment - was also the first time she felt a true sense of community after six months in the city.
Chang describes first entering Dubov's apartment and feeling overcome with the warmth and wonderful sense of community Dubov had a significant hand in creating.
The humble Dubov may not feel entirely comfortable being known as "mayor" of her block, but she concedes many people already call her that anyway. Dubov has lived on the Upper West Side for 31 years and says she was also quickly embraced as a part of the longstanding block association.
According to Chang, Dubov organizes tree well planting, including buying the plants, and generally helps keep people organized among other tasks.
"She just seems tireless," says Chang. "It's hard to find people to continue working at the grassroots level."
Chang says the city recently approached their block association with a pilot composting project because of their severe rodent problem. Dubov, who says rodents may be the biggest issue currently facing the block, unwaveringly stepped up to the task.
"She immediately said 'yes,'" notes Chang, "rather than thinking of all the reasons we couldn't do it." Chang adds that's just the kind of woman this block mayor is.
"She's got a tremendous energy and enthusiasm," says Chang. "It makes you want to help her."
Dubov tells the West Side Spirit she hopes to get all the buildings on her block composting by the beginning of the new year. She also decries the loss of the neighborhood's mom and pop shops, an evolution she says has unfortunately changed the atmosphere of the area.
While being an active member of the block association sounds like it could be a full-time job on its own, Dubov works as an art director for a major publishing company. She's also a freelance travel writer when she has the time. Dubov just returned from a two week assignment to India, part of it spent on a small riverboat sailing up the Ganges.
"I've written about most countries in Asia," she says. "It's the part of the world that always pulls me back."
Dubov is quick to note, however, that "the center of [her] world is [her] apartment on W. 83rd St., which is a center of activity for friends and family."