Elevated parks in Paris and New York

2013-promenade

2010-HighLine

If you find yourself in Paris or New York, I would recommend exploring and comparing two similar parks that I have visited: one in New York (the High Line park) and in Paris (Promenade plantée). Both parks are built on top of obsolete railway infrastructure above the street level. Both parks are sources of inspiration for environmentalists, artists, and other residents. If you want to learn more about the High Line, here are two good books:

  • David, J., & Hammond, R. (2011). High Line: The inside story of New York City’s park in the sky. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • La Farge, A. (2012). On the High Line: Exploring America’s most original urban park (pp. 218). New York: Thames & Hudson.

American National Parks

The National Parks System is one of the best American ideas. Although this an urban themed blog, I want to share my recent and mostly non-urban American Road Trip, which was organized to visit 12 American National Park Areas. I believe that National Parks, by connecting people to nature,  inspire environmental action in natural areas as well as in cities. You can download my trip report, or view photos and route here:

NationalParks

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.

Sense of place in parks

Place meaning – how you view certain places – depends on many factors, and one of them is the history of places. At 6:00 in the morning I explored Mill Pond Park, a new 10-acre waterfront park, which has recently opened just one block from my house in the South Bronx on the bank of Harlem River. Unlike many other parks, this green space has a number of great interpretation signs. They tell you that this site used to be the largest food terminal market in New York City with thousands of barges, trains and trucks delivering fruits and vegetables to wholesalers and families. And before that the Lenape people were hunting, fishing and gathering right here. I think that as you learn such stories you start to build a stronger connection to this place and maybe even care more about it.

Park signs in China

I took these photos in parks in China in October 2010. Although signs had English translation, 周建华, a professor at Beijing Forestry University, has sent me a more accurate translation:

Sign in Beijing: “Flowers and grass are smiling at you; please do not disturb them.”

Sign in Shanghai: “Taking actions is more than having awareness; environmental protection needs taking actions step by step (in everything).”

“Make the land green and purify your soul.”