As I’ve continued to conduct interviews, the value of this experience has become increasingly apparent. I’ve been finding myself anxious for each workday to begin so that I can learn from the people with whom I might never have crossed paths were it not for this project. The lens through which I view the park has been shifting as well, with memories of conversations directing my eye to previously overlooked qualities. I hope your views on Fort Greene Park have been similarly affected, and if not, keep reading!
My second round of interviews did not disappoint. I never fail to be pleasantly surprised by how open and willing to chat Fort Greene Park users are. The passion they have for this space clearly comes across in a desire to share thoughts on the park with me, a perfect stranger. Some common threads are beginning to emerge regarding values that resonate with Fort Greene Park and parks in general, so consider whether these ring true with yourself as you read my next blog post.
One of most notable qualities of Fort Greene Park is the diverse and inclusive community of park users. The individuals who spend time here, both frequenters and newbies, truly paint the character of this space. With the hopes of getting a glimpse into the relationships visitors across all walks of life have with Fort Greene Park, I’ve set out on a "Humans of New York"-esque mission to interview randomly selected park goers. My objective is to encourage readers to discover meaningful connections with Fort Greene Park through the inspiring anecdotes of park community members that will in-turn improve environmentally friendly behavior and community engagement. I hope you as a reader find these blog posts both engaging and revealing about the values held by community members who all share an appreciation for Fort Greene Park.
All that glitters is not gold — sometimes it’s glass! One Map of Many Moments, the newly-completed glass mosaic map of the park, celebrates volunteerism and stewardship in Fort Greene Park. With the help of many neighborhood hands and minds, we worked together with local artist Amanda Patenaude to transform park trash into our community’s newest treasure.
We’ve got a lot to be thankful for in 2016—new partnerships with great neighbors like Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Kickstarter, and The Brooklyn Hospital; our biggest programming season ever, with over 60 free events; and the completion of our first capital project on Washington Park. All of this, in what was just our first year as a staffed organization. As a new year approaches, we know that we will still need to provide critical resources for the work that needs to be done in Fort Greene Park in 2017. So at our Third Annual Tree Lighting this weekend with the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, we asked Santa for a few things below that we would really, really love to find under the tree this year.
Our community has a lot to celebrate as the year draws to a close. Before we jump into 2017, here’s a reflection on a year of landscape changes at Fort Greene Park.
Installed in late May 2016, Outer Seed Shadow (OSS) #02 serves as a green space to discuss issues of coexistence, immigration, and cultural identity. It is the second of five gardens to be installed in each of the boroughs of New York City. The term “outer seed shadow” relates to plant migration, and is the region where there exists an influx of seeds from a species’ reproductive core, but where—due to adverse conditions—seed germination and seedling reproduction are complicated, causing a decrease of those species’ representatives in this region.
On June 30th, the Fort Greene Park Conservancy and the Brooklyn Hospital partnered to beautify the corridor between Dekalb Avenue and Fort Greene Place, connecting the hospital campus to the park both aesthetically and physically. Staff members at the Brooklyn Hospital—as part of their annual community day of service—generously volunteered their time and worked with the FGPC to create a beautiful mural for the fence. The hospital worked on the mural as part of its Good Neighbors campaign, designed to support community-focused programs—and to celebrate a joint artistic endeavor with its park neighbors.
The many jubilant children, parents, and caretakers who attended Fort Greene Park's weekly Kids Concert on June 29th were treated to the musical stylings of one of Brooklyn's most popular children's artists, Mil's Trills. Over 500 people filled into the grove of London Planes by the Monument Plaza, creating a palpable energy that permeated through all who were present and only increased as the performance went on.
Fort Greene Park’s garden beds need your help. We are launching the Fort Greene Park Volunteer Gardener program today to give area residents the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of horticulture while playing an active role in developing and nurturing the more than 35 gardens spread across the park.
Many of you may be familiar with Fort Greene Park’s remarkable place in American history. Formerly a strategic outpost in the American Revolution and War of 1812, our park played a critical role in the founding of our nation. On February 20th—with the help of the NYC Parks and Boy Scout Troop 237—Fort Greene Park was transformed once again into an early American stronghold, regalia and all.
Fort Greene Park faces an existential crisis; with each rainstorm, a little bit of the park washes away. Our park’s hill has been eroding ever since it was formed by glacial deposits of silt and debris some 20,000 years ago. The erosion accelerated on Feb. 16 when an inch of rain fell, including an unusually heavy amount in the late afternoon.
As the sun works its way to melt the two feet of snow that fell on Fort Greene Park last weekend, we wanted to take a moment to relive the wonder of the snow and community. With the chatter of an impending and possible record-breaking winter storm on our radar, the staff at Fort Greene Park prepared for the snow and the sledders to follow suit. Neither failed to disappoint. Hundreds of people came out to the Park over the weekend and took advantage of the slopes created tens and thousands of years ago from the retreat of the Wisconsin ice sheet. People went to all corners of the Park bringing, not only wooden and plastic sleds, but snowboards, surf boards, snowshoes, and a variety of homemade contraptions.
Christmas came slightly early to Fort Greene Park this year when the gates to the long-awaited Willoughby Avenue Entrance capital project were opened to the public on the evening of December 24. The $2.5 million capital project had some delays earlier in the year primarily due to necessary engineering redesigns crucial to protecting several major city water mains that run beneath the park. Last Monday, after a meeting between the contractors, representatives from Nancy Owens Studio, Fort Green Park Conservancy, and NYC Parks, the entrance and pathways of the project were deemed ready for public use a week before the New Year.
For many of us at Fort Greene Park, including myself, this is the first time all 30 acres of the park have been open to the public since we started working here, and it has been a thrill to explore a new part of our beloved park. Here are some things to check out the next time you walk through the Willoughby Avenue capital project area.
Last month, NYC Parks officially launched Parks Without Borders — an agency-level initiative “to make parks mroe open, welcoming and beautiful by improving entrances, edges, and park-adjacent spaces. First announced as part of Vision 3 in Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC, Parks Without is backed by $50 Million in Mayoral funding to make transformative changes that make parks more accessible, improve neighborhoods, and create vibrant public places. It’s something that’s been on our radar for quite some time — even though Fort Greene Park has some lovely, historic walls, it also has plenty of perimeter space outside those walls that we think could benefit tremendously from the Parks Without Borders treatment. Now that the program is live, we’re excited to share with you how we’re working towards ensuring that Fort Greene Park receives some of the funding that’s out there.
This is my first holiday season as a part of the Fort Greene Park community. For whatever reason, I’m mostly a sucker for all kinds of year-end cheer, and this neighborhood has not disappointed in the way of spirit or enthusiasm for the most wonderful time of the year. I get giddy walking down Myrtle Avenue and Fulton Streets all aglow with holiday decorations. Passing by storefronts on sidewalks flanked with firs and other festive wares generally has me pining that December’s olfactory features were a little more present during the other months of the year. It’s been an amazing ten months in Fort Greene, and I’ve been grateful to have a new home for the holidays.
The Conservancy’s own annual tree lighting with Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project was slated to be our final event of the year, and something I had been looking forward to for quite some time. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect (I wasn’t present at last year’s inaugural affair), but stories of frigid weather from last year had me hoping for at least slightly kinder conditions. We had been talking with MARP’s team for months about what we could add to the program this year — a taller tree, local carolers, better management of the line to meet Santa, and a toy drive organized by Fort Greene SNAP and the Whitman Resident Association were all new for this year. Another idea was to round up some ornaments for our tree. The set we found were perfectly close-to-home, profoundly and beautifully so.
It’s been one of the busiest years of restoration work on record in Fort Greene Park. As his first year at the helm comes to a close, I sat down with David to discuss some recent restoration work around the park, and reflect on what’s been an amazing twelve months of landscape restoration, team-building, and leadership.
The excavation at the Willoughby Avenue entrance construction project has unearthed a few secrets. Surprising information about the location of a major water main forced multiple redesigns to the ADA-accessible staircase, and will extend the project into spring 2016. Some of the more pleasant treasures unearthed by the contractor, Fredante Construction, included many boulders.
At our Scope Meeting two months ago, one thing everyone wanted to know was what was going on behind the fences of the Willoughby entrance construction project. Since then, the dark green veils on the fence have come down and now everyone can look inside to see the change happen day by day. Here is some additional information to whet your capital project appetite.
Hello (internet) world!
It's been a long time coming, and we're so very excited to announce the official launch of our new website. Here at our new web home, you'll find resources and information on the Park's history, the Conservancy, current park happenings, and ways to stay connected to all things Fort Greene Park and get involved in the work we're doing.
We hope you'll love it as much as we do, but don't let that mean that we're too attached to any particular feature of it. If you've got any feedback on things you'd like to see here, or things we can improve on, don't hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or your Conservancy at email@example.com. LIke after any moving project, we'll probably be making a lot of changes to the website as we figure out what works and what doesn't, and bring in what you want to see. So please, speak up!
So explore, learn, and discover more ways to be proud in Fort Greene Park through this new web experience. There are plenty more events coming to Fort Greene throughout the coming months, and stay tuned to learn more. Find us on social media, and show us how you're #parkproud.
See you in the Park,
Programming and Development Coordinator
Fort Greene Park Conservancy