Field Note: It’s My Park!

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By L. Freeland and Emma Morini

The authors are 10th grade high school community service participants in Hell's Kitchen, volunteering alongside their trained Care Captains schoolmates Katelyn Chen, Jasper Griffo, Kenny Li, Bellina Trocchio, and Maya Warshaw. They are also preparing a stormwater plan for the area.

No matter what borough you live in you can make an impact, and we want to get help from anyone who is willing to learn how to take care of their parks.

During a time when the environment is being neglected, we have to come together, no matter where we are from, to beautify and aid the nature surrounding us. Community beautifying events like this one can be turning points for a neighborhood. We hope to continue the greening of Hell's Kitchen with this event along with compost and mulch events at the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project. 

In the fall we planted bulbs in McCaffrey Park, and are now seeing them sprout up! We aim to get people out, create a sense of community, and motivate neighbors to better our area.

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Even though we're trained by NYC Parks now, no experience is necessary to join the “It's My Park” event. Local volunteer NYC Parks tree stewards (a.k.a. Care Captains, that's us!) and neighbors will gather to share knowledge and support Partnership for Parks, a unique partnership between The City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks that coordinates volunteers to improve parks and the local green areas through events like “It's My Park.”

Care Captains learning at the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project. Photo: Liz Young

Jason Stein, Advanced Volunteer Coordinator, NYC Parks Super Stewards, Environment & Planning, encourages us Care Captains to engage and share our knowledge with the community: “Some Care Captains build tree guards, create pollinator gardens, water, weed, and cultivate tree beds; while others advocate, educate, and organize their communities around the benefits of a thriving urban forest.” Since NYC Parks manages over 30,000 acres of land, they need our volunteer help!

At the “It's My Park” event participants will care for the playground by aerating the tree bed soil, removing litter from the beds, installing native pollinator plants in garden areas, distributing mulch to protect and enrich the soil, and repainting a decorative screen in the planted area. There will be training and presentations for everyone in attendance to further the community's knowledge, so be sure to sign up so we have enough tools for all! To RSVP, email: [email protected].If you want to be a Care Captain or tree steward yourself, click here to learn more about the Super Steward program, where we trained online and in-person to learn the ropes.

Once you volunteer you might become passionate about having an event of your own for the parks or green spaces in your area. “It’s My Park” is a growing gateway for people to help the environment in their everyday lives and to become more conscious of the natural world. Learn how to host your own “It's My Park” event here. As we learned from the “It's My Park” organizer course presented by Partnerships for Parks, “Green and open spaces are crucial.” Our parks need us!

Caring for parks and the environment around us improves our quality of life and makes our green areas more healthy spaces of refuge. If we want to come out of this winter with a beautiful spring and summer, then we contribute now to make our world what we want it to be. “It’s My Park” is the perfect place to start.

The 10th grade Care Captains ready to green Hell's Kitchen and beyond. Photo: Liz Young

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