Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

a new f’ing wilderness

February 28, 2010

How do you envision urban wilderness? For me, this question brings to mind so many ideas and visions, of what’s wild and alive in the city today, of what was once wild and living in the city hundreds of years ago before the intensive “settling” by Europeans.

I answered this question on the Urban Wilderness Action Center (UWAC) website and will now be taking part in a UWAC Day put on by Eyebeam (et al) on March 20. Want to help out? Email me at: liz [at] raganella [dot] com

Learn more about the event here.

Below is my submission and a hint at how my action will go down:

The preservation, restoration, or natural succession of wild places in the city

24 Feb 2010 by Liz N, No Comments »

Brooklyn NY

What is Urban Wilderness and how do you envision it? : Wilderness is all around us though we’ve paved over much of it. It fights the asphalt, struggling to succeed. Finds its way through crack and crevice, planting itself in abandoned buildings, untended sidewalks and parking lots. Nature thrives in the edge. In the gravel live tiny microbes, under sidewalks in compacted street tree beds, mycorrhizae are at work on the roots of isolated trees.

Most immediately, there are fragmented patches of remnants of wilderness in the parks in which we find refuge from the urban hardscape. On a rare occasion, alone in Prospect Park on a trail in ‘the woods,’ I am no longer in the city, or not the city of 2010.

Wilderness is where we feel an unnameable pull, a call to our heritage, to the billion-year evolution of our inner flora. Where we feel more human and more part of the planet from which we’ve sprung. It can happen while crossing the street, maybe catching the flight of a bird or its song. Or we can try to make it happen, seeking a piece of earth to claim for an afternoon of reflection.

What type of interventions would love to see to help shape Urban Wilderness? We’re interested in both the practical and the fantastically impractical.: Reclaim riparian buffer zones. Take over the paved over. Dig up the pavement and concrete and build urbanite moss gardens in shady alleys and backyards. Plant trees, shrubs, wetland grasses where the pavement was.

Reconnect the urban forest. Have a ’stream’ of trees continuing from Wave Hill down to Central Park, down Park Avenue. A line of trees connecting all of the city’s parks, relinking the mycelial network that allows them to thrive. Migrating birds will find more sanctuary. Maybe we’ll begin to get a sense of the thickness of birds described by early settlers. The air will be a bit cleaner. A newfound sense of calm will fall upon even the most trafficked city neighborhoods.

How would you practically teach and perform such an intervention? (and Would you be interested in leading it?): To start: Hold public demonstrations of what was once present, before it was paved over, using data from the Mannahatta Project. Create giant posters covering the fronts of buildings with recreations of forest stands. Hang flocks of birds from wires between buildings.

Secondarily, convince city planning and officials that street trees should have continuous tree beds extending the length of city blocks. Dig away the sidewalk between trees and plant low-maintenance grasses and plants.

Optimistically, obtain parcels of land and get to replanting forests and riparian buffer zones. I know there would be many willing participants to dig in. There’s just the small matter of procuring the land. Maybe we could start with the 12,000 acres of vacant land in the city first.

I would love to lead this kind of intervention.

This post was submitted by Liz N.

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Image source: Hoggs Blog


milliontrees nyc announces volunteer opps

May 15, 2009

[Tree and me]
Just the other day as I stared out my apartment window, I thought about how lovely it was that the trees back there have grown closer our building. The lush green branches and perching birds were a great comfort to me, considering we have no outdoor space in our place. This morning I awoke to the sound of chainsaws. Half the tree is gone. I just hope they made a clean cut at the branch collar so the tree will “heal” properly (tomorrow I have my field day with the Trees NY Citizen Pruner course). 
If you appreciate trees and wildlife as much as I do, maybe you’ll be compelled to help the city take care of our little bits of green habitat. MillionTrees NYC just announced their upcoming schedule of events. Maybe I’ll see you at one of them…

Natural Resources Group: Forest Stewardship Days: Citywide
This spring take part in the restoration of forests in natural areas in NYC. We will be removing invasive weeds, watering and mulching. Volunteers will learn the history and ecology of the sites and help ensure the future of the forest!

Registration is currently open to volunteer with MillionTreesNYC in our reforestation areas!
  • Saturday, May 30, 2009, 9:00am-2:00pm: Ocean Breeze, Staten Island Kissena Corridor Park, Queens
  • Saturday, June 20, 2009, 9:00am-2:00pm: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx Canarsie Park, Brooklyn Idlewild Park, Queens Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island Mt. Loretto Unique Area, Staten Island Randall’s Island, Manhattan

Sign up at
Children under 16 must be accompanied by a guardian. Not recommended for children under age 12.
Contact Ellen Arnstein with questions

Conference House Park, Staten Island: Forest Stewardship Volunteering
Looking for interesting and meaningful activities in the great outdoors? Experience nature, learn plant and animal species and volunteer at Conference House Park. Activities will include planting, invasive plant removal, and tree-care activities.

  • Saturday, May 16th, 2:00-5:00pm 
  • Wednesday, May 20th, 9:00am-12:00pm 
  • Saturday, May 30th, 2:00-5:00pm 
  • Saturday, June 27th, 2:00-5:00pm 
  • Wednesday, July 8th, 5:00-7:30pm 
  • Sunday, July 26th, 9:00am-12:00pm 
  • Monday, July 27th, 9:00am-12:00pm

Stewardship events begin at the Conference House Park Visitors’ Center. For questions, directions, and to RSVP, contact Cheri or 718-390-8021.

rally to stop coal plant financing

May 15, 2009

Join Dozens of activists with the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and New York Public Interest Research Group this coming Tuesday – May 19 – to rally against the financing of dirty coal by JPMorgan Chase. Be sure to bring your banners, signs, and voice to let CEO Jamie Dimon and other JPMorgan Chase shareholders know you won’t stand for dirty coal plants and mountaintop removal coal mining. Full details below:

Groups to Rally at JPMorgan Chase Shareholder Meeting on May 19th
New Yorkers Ask CEO Jamie Dimon to Stop Financing Coal Plants

WHEN: May 19th,
Rally, 9:30 am – 10:30 am
JPMorgan Chase Shareholder Meeting – 10 am

WHERE: One Chase Manhattan Plaza, New York, NY [map]

WHAT: Rally outside the JPMorgan Chase annual shareholder meeting, questioning Jamie Dimon, one of the leading financiers of coal plants and mountaintop removal coal mining. Despite Mr. Dimon’s rhetoric on the need for clean energy and strong environmental policies, JPMorgan Chase continues to underwrite Massey Energy, one of the biggest and most heavily criticized mountaintop removal coal mining companies in the country. JP Morgan Chase also continues to fund expensive and highly polluting coal plants throughout the United States, including the proposed AMP-Ohio coal plant, one of the most financially risky coal proposals in the country.

WHO: Dozens of activists with the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, and New York Public Interest Research Group.
– Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director of Ohio Citizen Action,
– Larry Gibson, President of Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
– Dana Clark, Director of Global Finance for Rainforest Action Network

go plant a tree!

April 23, 2009

Did you know that tomorrow is Arbor Day? I hadn’t a clue until I just got this email from MillionTreesNYC. If I didn’t have to work tomorrow, I’d be doing this (boo to work!):

Still looking to do something green this Arbor Day – Friday, April 24?

Join New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in celebrating MillionTreesNYC Month with presenting sponsor BNP Paribas by planting over 200 trees in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday, April 24. By volunteering, you will be helping MillionTreesNYC create a cleaner, greener New York City, while also having some fun under the Brooklyn sun! So dig in and demonstrate just how green you can be by registering today!

Only 100 volunteer opportunities remain available for our Arbor Day celebration tomorrow. So, register today.

Friday, April 24
9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Volunteer sign-in begins at 8:30 am

Sternberg Park – East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(On Lorimer Street, between Montrose Ave and Boerum Street)

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION: All volunteers must be 18 years or older. To volunteer you must register in advance by contacting Olivia Chen at Upon registration, you will receive an e-mail confirming your participation.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for registered volunteers. Tree-planting will end at 3:00 pm and culminate with an ice cream social in NYRP’s Heckscher Foundation’s Children Garden.

Not in NYC? Find Arbor Day activities in your neck of the woods.

tomorrow’s earth day

April 21, 2009

(If the sun hugged a tree you could kiss that tree goodbye… sizzle sizzle. Ok, maybe I’m being too literal.)

Yeah, big deal, tomorrow’s Earth Day. I kind of agree with the sentiment expressed by environmental mag Grist: “Screw Earth Day.” By now we should all be doing our part, or at least trying to take small steps daily toward cultivating a healthier planet (and selves). I guess it’s easy for me to have this attitude since I’m one of those people who’s trying her darndest to lighten her impact on the planet. But there are plenty of people and policies that haven’t been infected by the green bug that’s been sweeping the nation over the last few years. It’s really for them that we still need Earth Day.

Not sure how to honor Earth Day #39? Here are a few ideas:

get outside!
Been cooped up inside so long you’ve forgotten how? Listen to the Nature Conservancy’s urging to Spring Outside! and learn about ways to find nature near you.

bid on Leo’s stuff
Leonardo DiCaprio is auctioning off some of his goods, and his time, on eBay to benefit Global Green USA.

Global Green USA is greening America’s schools, affordable housing, and cities to combat global warming, lower energy bills, and create green jobs. Global Green is the US affiliate of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International, and is leading the green rebuilding of New Orleans.

A few great ways to do so, via Grist (with a few edits):

get on the bus – to Albany

Join the Audubon Society of NY for a big environmental lobbying event, Tuesday, May 5th from 9:30am to 4pm.

Earth Day Lobby Day is New York’s largest annual environmental event, bringing together people from all over New York to hear from government and environment leaders, learn about current legislation, and lobby elected officials on environmental issues that are important to you. We’ll be focusing on global warming, e-waste recycling, wetlands protection, and SEQRA standing (aka the “environmental access to justice act”).

The all-day event is free and open to all, but you must pre-register by Friday, May 1st.

Please put “Audubon New York” in the organization line when filling out the form. We will send out directions and more detailed information to all registrants in advance of the event. Sign up for Earth Day Lobby Day today by clicking here!

clean out the closets and recycle your e-waste
Two events in NYC are coming up –

Sunday, April 26th, 10AM – 4PM, Central Park, Manhattan
W 67th Street and Central Park West

Saturday, May 2nd, 10AM – 4PM, at Tekserve, Manhattan
119 W 23rd Street (btwn 6th and 7th Aves)

Not in NYC, not to worry. Check out Earth 911 for electronics recycling in your area.

support local recycling efforts (Park Slope, Brooklyn)
The Park Slope 5th Avenue BID has partnered with the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce to launch a new recycling campaign. Green Grows in Brooklyn, will take place from April 20th-April 22nd — right in time for Earth Day. For more info on this initiative, check out Green Brooklyn.

spreading love in the form of flowers in bed stuy

March 11, 2009

I’ve been wanting to throw some seed bombs since I wrote about Green Guerrillas last summer (and maybe even before that). Well now I’m going to have the chance to live the dream, and you can too, if you’re interested.

Here’s the opportunity — it’s called Bed Stuy Meadow and it’s a project being put on by 21st Century Plowshare, who describe themselves as:

… an inspiration-station and resource hub for anyone who wants to deploy environmental actions that matter–actions that prompt an ecstatic recognition of people’s surroundings. Do your part! Join the discourse, participate in the actions here and make your own actions happen!

Oh man, if that doesn’t make you want to get involved, I don’t know what will.

Full details are below. If you want to get in on the action, email them at

If you want to make your own seed bomb, get instructions here [via FunTimeHappyGardenExplosion].

Project Description

The goal is to sow wildflower seeds on every single patch of abandoned soil in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed Stuy this April. By early summer, there should be so many wildflowers growing in the untended treepits, vacant lots, half-built developments and other tiny scraps of neglected soil in Bed Stuy that the whole neighborhood effectively turns into a meadow.

Wildflower seeds are very easy to plant, and they grow well in poor, shallow soils without human attention, so it’s going to be relatively easy to make a huge visual impact over the entire neighborhood. The profusion of wildflowers that result from this minimal effort will probably be relentless and visually unifying, and this relentless unity of wildflowers will probably make anyone walking down the street feel good.

I want there to be so many wildflowers on the streets that the summer of 2009 is remembered very fondly every single resident of the neighborhood. I want the continuity of the Meadow to be so strong that Google Earth is compelled to re-photograph Bed Stuy. I want people who don’t even live within the five boroughs to visit Bed Stuy for the first time so that they can see the Meadow with their own eyes, and I want people who will never even come to be so inspired by the Bed Stuy Meadow that they make their own amazing neighborhood project and share it on 21st Century Plowshare.

Bed Stuy is a neighborhood of contradictions. There is a lot of crime here, but it’s also by far the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in. It’s got a litter problem and the landscape is dotted with empty lots and condemned houses. But this is also a neighborhood of seriously tended front yards with a rich history of community gardening. Bed Stuy claims as its own Hattie Carthan and the Notorious B.I.G. I think the Meadow is going to work because it doesn’t work against what Bed Stuy is. Bed Stuy’s low-slung, long-blocked character and the expansiveness of its territory are not like an urban jungle or forest as much as an urban prairie. The effort of the meadow is another chapter in the community gardening history of the neighborhood. Wildflowers are beautiful in the way that the architecture here is beautiful, the way the people who go out of their way to say good morning on the streets here are beautiful. And wildflowers are tough enough to grow wherever the seeds are cast.

Get Involved

1. Plant Seed in April. If you live in NYC and want to spend an afternoon scattering seed in April, email 21stcenturyplowshare-at-gmail-dot-com to get on the list of volunteers.

2. The total budget for this project is about $2000. Donate a few dollars by clicking this button:

5 actions you can take right now

January 14, 2009

A message from Michelle Obama

1. Get involved in bettering your community and country: organize or join a National Day of Service event (with the Sierra Club)
President-elect Obama is calling on all Americans to participate in service projects over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, January 17 through 19. The Sierra Club is answering the call and asking its members and supporters to organize service events in the name of the Club.

More info on the National Day of Service, organized by Michelle and president-elect Barack Obama, here.


2. Protect national forests: sign a petition to president-elect Obama
The Bush Administration removed it, so please, Mr. Obama, reinstate protection on more than 58 million acres of pristine, roadless national forests.

3. Support green schools to help the economy: sign a letter to your representatives
Greening America’s schools must be a priority to help: 1) stimulate a new clean energy economy, creating millions of new jobs in green technology and energy-efficient school construction; 2) help strengthen America’s global competitiveness by providing safer, healthier, and better overall learning environments; 3) help schools become more energy efficient – saving schools enough money to hire two additional teachers – while protecting our environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Protect NY state farmland: sign an email alert to your legislator
The Governor is proposing staggering cuts of almost 40% to agricultural programs in the Environmental Protection Fund, like the Farmland Protection Program, meaning that almost 90% of farmers interested in protecting their land this year will be turned away.

5. Tell the EPA to regulate nanosilver: sign a petition
Hundreds of consumer products incorporating nanomaterials are now on the market, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging, many of which contain nano-silver. Help ensure that these products are safe by supporting a petition to the EPA.