Happy first day of school, Greenpoint! This year, the local conservationists at Newtown Creek Alliance are bringing the creek to the curriculum as part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Greenpoint EcoSchools initiative.
NCA will pioneer its new STEM Urban Ecology curriculum in the four Greenpoint Public schools: PS 31, PS 34, PS 110, and MS 126. The learning modules and field trips, designed for elementary and middle school students, cover Flora and Fauna relationships, invasive and native species, topography, water and soil quality, ecological health and legacy and ongoing pollution sources.
Each lesson will culminate in a “design based applied learning project,” and NCA staff will serve as expert guides, leading classes through related activities and offering guest lecturers in the classroom. Continue reading →
Do you feel alive, Greenpoint? Well, the valiant conservationists at Newtown Creek Alliance certainly do. The good folks at NCA have announced plans for a second Living Dock in Newtown Creek. The Living Dock is a “floating structure designed to provide valuable marine habitat within a heavy polluted and largely bulkheaded waterway.”
The original Living Dock was installed here in Greenpoint at the North Henry Street Public Basin in 2015, and its brand-new sister dock will be built this month and installed in the English Kills tributary of the creek. Continue reading →
Warm weather brings many of us out to Greenpoint’s greenest spots for a bit of sunworshiping, but for the community organization Newtown Creek Alliance, greening Greenpoint through ecological stewardship is an everyday business. NCA’s focus is not only on making Greenpoint’s most infamous/beloved creek as green as can be today, but also on looking forward to the green future in North Brooklyn. To make the most of that green future, NCA partnered with the advocacy group River Keeper to produce a Long Term Vision Plan for Newtown Creek that sees the Creek not as a polluted border between Brooklyn and Queens, but instead as “1,000 acres of opportunity,” and a 3.8 mile community asset. Continue reading →
On May 21st, Newtown Creek Alliance sets sail on Newtown Creek in a NY Waterway ferry boat. Historian Mitch Waxman and NCA Program Manager Willis Elkins are hosting the boat ride, and participants are invited to learn about the Creek’s rich industrial history, lasting legacy of contamination and environmental damage and on-going efforts to revitalize and restore this unique waterway in the heart of New York City.
This is a unique and rare way to be able to tour Newtown Creek and learn about our neighborhood’s (tragic) environmental history.
Newtown Creek Boat Tour | India Street Ferry Dock, 10 India Street Sunday, May 21 | 2pm-4pm
Saturday, May 6th is the sixth annual Riverkeeper Sweep, which is Riverkeeper’s annual day of service for the Hudson River, with more than 90 cleanup events across NYC and the Hudson. At last year’s sweep, more than two thousand volunteers worked along hundreds of miles of shoreline to remove over 48 tons of debris, and plant or maintain 836 trees and native grasses. This year, North Brooklyn plays host to five of the sweeps. If you participate, you’re entitled to a free beer at Greenpoint Beer and Ale (7 N. 15th St) from 12pm till 2am. And also this weekend we have a few different environmental guided tours in the neighborhood, so there are lots of ways you can get your green on!
Transmitter Park Cleanup | Meet @ Transmitter Park radio building Saturday, May 6 | 10am-1pm | free, or $8.50 with t-shirt What: Help clean up Transmitter Park! More info
Newtown Creek Vista Point Cleanup | @ 1000 Meeker Ave. Saturday, May 6 | 11am-3pm | free, or $8.50 with t-shirt What: Debris removal, planting native flora and path making. More info | Facebook event
Newtown Creek Shoreline Cleanup By Canoe | @ HarborLAB at 53-21 Vernon Blvd Saturday, May 6 | 11am-6pm | free, or $8.50 with t-shirt What: Clean up Newtown Creek by boat! And help with a seed ball and planting project. The boat cleanup will stretch from the meeting point through 58th Road in Maspeth. More inf0
Bushwick Inlet Park Cleanup + Planting | @ Bushwick Inlet Park Dept of Parks building, 86 Kent Ave. @ N 9th St. Saturday, May 6 | 10am-1pm | free, or $8.50 with t-shirt What: Cleanup, gardening, and planting. More info
East River State Park Cleanup | Meet in front of the park @ 90 Kent Ave. Saturday, May 6 | 12pm-4pm | free, or $8.50 with t-shirt What: Cleanup and park maintenance More Info
ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDED WALKS: McGolrick Park: A Guided Tree Walk | Meet under the monument in McGolrick/Winthrop Park Saturday, May 6 | 1pm-2:30pm What: This walk will be led by a certified arborist. “McGolrick park is known for its dense canopy of mature, shady trees. Together we’ll look at these trees, learn the various species growing in the park, and share some tips for identifying trees in NYC. From towering London Plane trees to small, flowering Eastern Red Buds, we’ll take time to look at each leaf, flower, fruit and bud.” Dogs welcome! More infoContinue reading →
From 4 to 9pm this Thursday (March 9th) at LaGuardia Community College’s Little Theater (31-10 Thomson Ave., Queens), there’ll be an immersive set of talks about Newtown Creek, and a dialogue with Riverkeeper.
North Brooklyn community residents came out to 520 Kingsland Ave. for the first annual Kingsland Wildflowers Festival on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in Greenpoint this past weekend. The event marked the public inauguration of the new green roof that will serve as a wildlife refuge and community space for educational programming.
Attendees enjoyed free food and beer from New York’s first organic beer maker, Smart Beer and musicians entertained the crowd of friends and family. The littlest Greenpointers (and future conservationists) danced, enjoyed educational activities, face painting and frolicking in the rooftop meadow. This new green space is an oasis in this industrial area that was at one time a rich ecological habitat. “That’s what this project is all about, greening Greenpoint,” said property owner Tony Argento.
Please join the Newtown Creek Alliance in helping to clean up and improve the North Henry Street shoreline site this Sunday. Volunteers can assist with tasks like garbage pickup, weed removal, planting and path making. Gloves will be provided, and please dress accordingly. No RSVP required.
The North Henry Street site is host to the NCA Living Dock. With money from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, NCA created the Living Dock; a 200-sq foot floating habitat structure for marine organisms. Despite poor environmental conditions, wildlife is returning to the Creek. The Living Dock is a way to encourage and document this trend. Come see the site, visit the Living Dock and lend a hand!
Thanks to Newtown Creek Alliance and North Brooklyn Boat Club for organizing this fun canoe trip on the Newtown Creek. While nature in the way of lush forests and crystal clear running streams is far from the scenery along this industrial waterway, “nature has returned to the creek,” our guides explained, which is a good sign.
Among the many birds we spotted were cormorants, swallows, cardinals, a great egret, an entire flocks of cormorants, a catbird and a few geese who were demonstrating a curious behavior of swimming along the creek’s edge with their necks down low on the water.
We were very excited to also see blue crabs, oysters, small fish and jelly fish!
I won’t say it didn’t smell, in some parts worse than others. Mostly they were industrial gas and crude oil smells. There was a lot of garbage floating, capri sun containers, potato chips bags, tampons, and I won’t say that I didn’t cringe every time even the most minuscule drop splashed on my arm or even worse right near my lips.
When I asked Jens of NBBC what would be the protocol if someone fell in and swallowed a mouthful of water, he said he would recommend getting a Hepatitis test since the biggest pollutant on the creek nowadays is human excrement.
The most striking feature of the tour was when we canoed up to a partition between the creek and a combined sewage overflow, CSO area. That is where rainwater mixed with sewage from the treatment plant overflows after heavy rain. The water on our side of the partition was very clear, protected from – wait for it – “floatables.” On the other side, where an unknowing egret was hunting, was thick putrid sludge leading from the huge overflow pipe.
When we returned to the boat club dock I was never so excited to wash my hands, especially the spot of water that turned brown on my arm.
Canoeing up the creek is something that everyone should experience, at least once. If not for the birds – for the reality check. Modern conveniences like toilets and sanitation make us forget the impact we have on our own environment. While the creek is on its way to becoming a less vile place, it’s still the toilet of NYC, and we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it, especially since it is becoming a viable place for our own native fauna.
Bonus:Laura Hoffman, locally famous environmental hero for Greenpoint, who was a plaintiff in a 2004 lawsuit against ExxonMobil for contamination of Greenpoint and the Newtown Creek that won $19million for an environmental projects fund, was on the same canoe trip! I was honored to finally meet her.