NYRP

4I spent the afternoon today in a gorgeous Northern Manhattan park called Swindler Cove. The park has been one of many many success stories of the hard work of volunteers and staff of the New York Restoration Project. NYRP is an environmental care organization started by Bette Midler when she came to New York and was put out by how much trash there was and in what a sorry state the parks and community gardens were. She and friends in 1995 started taking it upon themselves to clean up green spaces in the city.

The organization now has projects with parks, gardens, and trash cleanup in many many sections of New York. Over 875 tons of garbage has been removed from parkland by NYRP teams of volunteers and staff.

Swindler Cove is the “jewel in the crown” for NYRP. It is 5 acres on the Harlem River up at the northern tip of Manhattan. Where once locals pulled over at the side of a busy road and pushed their trash bags, shopping carts, decrepit cars, and who can guess what else over the edge…is now a relaxing respite from the city. There’s a children’s garden, groomed paths through forested sections, a waterfall, art installation birdhouses, benches in the shade, and a floating boathouse where neighborhood kids and adults come to learn rowing and kayaking on the river. Birdsong and the rustle of leaves is the soundscape of what was once a de facto dump. swindler4

core_boathouse

I was there with the US Publicist for my book, 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, so we could shoot some on-the-fly video of a volunteer program in the city for promotion. Bette wasn’t there (though she is in New York on hiatus from her Vegas show), but I got to interview the wonderful Angela Michie, NYRP’s Community Outreach and Volunteer Manager. Incredible work is being done in this oasis of calm as well as other parks and gardens around the boroughs. Look them up and give them an afternoon’s worth of sweat.

It makes an enormous difference–as Bette Midler believes, we all have a right to a green city, and should take on being an active partner in the “Conservancy of Forgotten Places.”

http://www.nyrp.org swindler1

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