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I have just arrived to the U.S. On the way from JFK to Ithaca NY, I decided to stop by the new World Trade Center Memorial site. Falling water in two pools cancels the noise of the city, and a forest of trees on the Memorial Plaza brings more nature to this site. Trees are seen as “a symbol of hope and rebirth” and also play an important educational function by reminding us that the city is part of nature.

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AmeriCorps, NYRP, New York

Last year, I have interviewed Nathan Moore who worked for the New York Restoration Project through AmeriCorps. His idea is that you do not necessarily have to have a degree in environmental studies to teach about the environment. Nathan is a social worker, which helps him connect with urban students in underserved communities, and teach them about urban nature.

Nature University

Nature University, a summer camp program organized by New York Restoration Project.

Narrator: Omari Washington. Videography: Alex Kudryavtsev. New York City, 2011.

Urban Farm at the Battery

“This is the first urban farm at the Battery since the Dutch planted their cottage gardens in New Amsterdam in 1625,” says the farm’s website. This new garden is located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, a place known for ferries that run from here to Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty. Wall Street and Stock Exchange are just a few steps away. Today I have observed high school students from a transfer school volunteering in the garden, picking up vegetables, and helping with a new farmstand selling fresh produce. Hundreds of tourists pass by every hour, many of them make it to the garden, which is open for everyone. I think that most visitors are amazed like I am by the combination of surrounding skyscrapers and this urban farm with its smell of tomato leaves, compost, wet soil, and lavender.

Visiting a tall ship

Addy Guance and Tony Archino, educators at Rocking the Boat, the Bronx, New York City, take their high-school students to visit the Peking, a tall ship docked at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. Students were building boats and exploring ecosystems in the Bronx River during several weeks this summer. Today these young people explored a much larger watercraft and raised one of its sails.

Interviews at the High Line park

Carol Kennedy, a teacher at the Satellite Academy High School in the Bronx, New York City, has started her summer environmental education and stewardship program called EcoLeaders. The first field trip with 20 students was to the High Line park in Manhattan. The High Line park is built on old train tracks elevated above street level. Students have interviewed park visitors by asking them about their opinion on green spaces in NYC, nature deficit disorder, and favorite places to enjoy nature.

Below I copy a short report on this trip published by Carol Kennedy on the Ning website:

*****

It was a warm and sunny day, with a little breeze, but our stalwart and fearless group of traveling interviewers was able to cover the many miles between 14th street and 20th street (and back again) in down town Manhattan on Friday July 2nd, 2010. My ‘partners in crime’ – the EcoLeadership class seemed almost timid at first when it came to interviewing strangers about how they felt about nature and greenspaces in NYC, but they all rose to the challenge and did some great interviews. Most were able to get their subjects to agree to have a video taken of the interview as well. We all need to practice a bit more on how to get the best shots and to get the sound just right, but all in all, the images look good.

Below is a list of the questions we asked of the folks we met on the High Line.

  • Where are you from?
  • Do you think there is enough “green space” or “nature” in NYC?
  • How do you feel when surrounded by “nature” or green space?
  • Where do you go to enjoy “nature” or what is your favorite place to enjoy “nature”? Why?
  • Do you think some boroughs (Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island) have more green space then others? Why?
  • Are there any aspects of “nature” that bother you? If so what?
  • Do you think being around “nature” affects your mental, physical or emotional health? Why?
  • What do you think nature deficit disorder means?
  • Do you think it is important that young folks get a chance to experience “nature”? Why?
  • Would you be willing to pay (a very small amount) for more green spaces to be easily available to all persons in the city? Why?