What you’ll do
Volunteer your time for a 3-hour environmental experience by the East River.
Sign In and Welcoming Remarks - 20 minutes
Your activity will begin with a welcome and quick place finding discussion - where in the world are we? Get an introduction to the history of the park site, which was developed from a shoal in the East River off the coast of Manhattan. The ever-shifting riverbank was filled with rubble from bombed-out Bristol, England during WII, which further enlarged the island of Manhattan by nearly one hundred acres. Trace the industrial uses of the area through to the site’s stagnation as a polluted post-industrial wasteland and the big development dreams of the 80s and 90s. Wrap up with the story of how community efforts blocked commercial real estate development and successfully established native plant gardens in clean soils protected from contamination below.
Restoration Ecology Invasive Plant Removal Project - 60 minutes
Following a discussion of why native plants are used in restoration ecology projects like Stuy Cove Park and a quick demonstration, your team will work to remove invasive field bindweed from an infected waterside bed.
Water/Bathroom Break- 15 minutes
Permaculture for Sustainable and Resilient Cities Talk and Activity - 60 minutes
After working in the gardens, regroup to discuss the 15-year-old park as it is today: a young wilderness protected by the City of New York as a “recognized ecological complex” and designated as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. How did the park morph from landscaped public gardens to a strip of wilderness on the waterfront of Manhattan? Your group will discuss what they saw in the park and gain insight into the concept of ecological succession in an urban island landscape.
Then, enjoy a guided BioBlitz stroll through the park, documenting the current state of the ecosystem by recording your citizen science observations in the iNaturalist app. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to identify (and sample!) some of the delicious and unusual wild edibles such as beach plum and eastern black nightshade grown in tested clean soils here on the shores of the East River.
Reflections on Future Participation and Social Responsibility - 15 minutes
Wrap up your experience by brainstorming ways in which individuals can volunteer and contribute to shaping the future of this and other city parks so they may remain vibrant places that foster interest in plants, ethnobotany, and natural history amongst park visitors.
How you’ll make an impact
This nonprofit organization is dedicated to increasing environmental and energy awareness through public education and cultural programming.
What to bring
- water bottle, close-toed shoes, clothing appropriate for outdoor work.
What else you should know
- Best to book 2 weeks in advance