Get #RootedinNYC with NYRP

TD Bank wants to know what being #RootedinNYC means to you! This campaign spotlights New Yorkers who are improving their urban environment and their communities. We asked our Brooklyn, Queens & Staten Island Regional Engagement Manager, Rebecca Fitle, to share what being #RootedinNYC means to her. 

What does being #RootedinNYC mean to you in relation to the work you do with NYRP?

Just as roots anchor a tree and collect the nutrients that it needs to flourish, we New Yorkers are anchored and nourished by the roots we establish in our remarkably diverse communities.  One aspect of my job is to help people become active in NYRP gardens in order to deepen their community roots and to truly become #RootedinNYC.  Although I work all over the city, my focus is Brooklyn, where the rapid rate of change frequently causes people to feel uprooted and disconnected.  Our gardens are places where everyone — whether new to the neighborhood or a longtime resident — can come together and connect through a shared appreciation for open space, gardening, eating fresh food or even physical fitness classes or the arts.  Our calendar provides a little bit of everything so that anyone can become #RootedinNYC.

How are community members rooting themselves in green spaces in their neighborhoods?

One of my favorite moments of rootedness from the 2015 season occurred at Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Garden during the last night of Apocalypse Chow, a three-week series of free-sun-cooked meals that the Flux Factory curated with a little help from NYRP and a lot of help from community gardeners. The series culminated with a workshop demonstrating how to construct a solar oven.  When I arrived in the garden that night I was delighted to see how seamlessly everyone was working together. George, the longtime gardener and block resident whose mother founded the garden back when Bed-Stuy was a very different place, greeted the artsy crowd as the Flux Factory folks finished setting up.  Throughout the evening, people of all ages asked George to identify the different types of fruits and vegetables growing in the garden while munching on sun-cooked food and clutching their new ovens.  George was so busy playing the host that he did not have the time to build one!  Luckily one of his oldest friends from the neighborhood showed up to make new friends and build an oven for the garden.  By getting to know not only the garden space, but also the garden group that has cared for the space over the years, Flux Factory — an organization that already had deep community roots — became even more #RootedinNYC.

Why is green space so important in the neighborhoods you work in?

Just walking in a green space can improve our mental health and profoundly impact our quality of life.  I spend a lot of time working in East New York, which is a lengthy train ride from a safe and well-maintained green oasis like Prospect Park, but is home to one of the largest networks of community gardens of any Brooklyn neighborhood.  Together with GreenThumb and hyperlocal community-based organizations like East New York Farms and Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, we are working to build the capacity of this garden network to better serve the community.  Through our Gardens for the City program we have granted materials and the expertise of our amazing operations team to several East New York gardens that are not a part of NYRP’s land trust.  Check out our Facebook album to see what our crew can accomplish on a Garden’s for the City project in only a couple of days! 

East New York’s gardens are going to become even more precious as the city moves forward with the construction of more affordable housing units in the area through its East New York Community Plan. More housing will mean more people and an even greater need for multiuse green spaces.  This explains why I am so excited for the first of the three community input sessions that will bring our talented team of landscape architects together with residents of East New York to brainstorm how to redesign Essex Street Community Garden in order to maximize its usage as a public green space.  The first session will take place in the garden in early September.  Keep an eye on our calendar for more details!    

How can others get #RootedinNYC?

Get off your computer and get into one of our gardens!  There is something for everyone! And all of our events are FREE!

If you are a part of the DIY crowd or just plain curious, come and learn how plant materials from our gardens can be used to create natural dyes with the Textile Arts Center’s Sewing Seeds program.  On August 16th Heckscher Foundation Children’s Garden will host an opening reception to celebrate the installation the 2015 Sewing Seeds Artist in Residence made especially for our garden!  RSVP for the event here and check out Sewing Seeds’ full lineup of workshops for the 2015 season here.

Are you a busy New Yorker in need of a little whimsy?  If so, come check out the shadows and magic that Midnight Radio Show (MRS) brings to our gardens during their FREE shadow puppet shows! Children and adults alike will be delighted as the Brooklyn-based founder of MRS, Charlotte Lily Gaspard, recounts original fairytales through stunning, shadowy shapes reminiscent of 19th century silhouettes and an original piano score evocative of the music of silent films.  The first show will be held in Greene Acres Community Garden on August 6th at 7:45pm.  Check our calendar for their full performance schedule.    

Do you like to explore the most out of the way corners of our fair city?  Join us for a walking tour of East New York from 11-2pm on October 17th.  We will meet at the United Community Center’s Youth Farm near the intersection of New Lots and Schenck Avenues and weave our way through East New York’s rich history by visiting a 19th century Dutch Reformed church, African Burial Ground Square and three community gardens.  We are hosting the tour in collaboration with our local community partners in East New York to celebrate the life of the late local historian Kristopher Morgan Powell.  View our calendar for more details.   

Reach out to me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with questions or ideas on how you can become #RootedinNYC with NYRP.  I hope to see you in one our gardens soon!