The annual New Green City fair, presented by GrowNYC, brought an array of eco-conscious products and programs to the South Plaza of Union Square for the largest green event in Manhattan. Yesterday from 10-4pm, around 200,000 visitors attended the event. In an ongoing effort to move New York towards a greener future, visitors had the chance to learn about government agencies, non-profits, entrepreneurs and community and corporate partners who are helping to make this possible. In addition, there you could test recipes made with local produce, treat the little ones to some fun the fun in the Kids Corner, and see the Mobile Textile Lab brewing up yet another round of natural dyes.
Among the various offerings on display, a particularly unique project was the Bed-Stuy CommUnity Quilt Project for Peace. Initiated thanks in part to a grant from the Davis Projects for Peace, organizer Kioka Williams has mobilized her local community to get involved. The Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn based project is an effort to deal with the gentrification process that is rapidly changing the local landscape and creating deep divides. Williams has lived in the neighborhood for over six years and was a regular participant in the local clothing swaps. Seeing many articles unclaimed after the swaps, she decided to recycle them in a way that would have a social impact.
With the help of friends, the Bed-Stuy Community Quilt Project has now almost completed its first project. Teens and adults participated to help sew clothing scraps into beautiful mural-like pieces. The project ran from April to August 2011 and the individual squares are now ready to be joined together and displayed as a gigantic piece. The hope is to display it outside in various locations. A brownstone in the neighborhood has already been selected as a potential host to display the piece of recycled ingenuity.
On a different note, Learn It, Grow It, Eat It (LGE) was also on site to demonstrate the results of their summer program. A program of GrowNYC, LGE works with four high schools in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx and serves over 300 students throughout the year. In the summer, 15 students are selected to earn money working to make the local Youthmarket possible. Students split into three groups and go through a 2-week training session in the garden. They then sell farm fresh produce at the market while also offering cooking demonstrations of healthy recipes that may not be so common in the community. In addition, each year there is a nutritional theme that the students research. This year’s theme was sugar and the program culminated in students producing dioramas and visual aids made of recycled materials that help residents understand the consequences of their food choices.
In a similar vein, ioby was present to let people know about the possibility of bringing community environmental projects to life. It presents a virtual platform where community members can post projects that are in need of funding or volunteers and fellow residents can donate or get involved. Since its founding in 2008 it has grown immensely and has been able to raise more than $110,000 to fund over 80 projects. The hope is that the small, site-based projects will inspire change block by block.
With many community and governmental initiatives to move the city in a more eco-friendly direction, it is up to residents to select the ones they feel most passionate about and commit to the cause. Small changes in daily habits and decisions are the first step towards efficiency on a larger scale.
Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat