520 miles of NYC waterfront. Map courtesy of Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance

After much hype (and a little bit of secrecy at the Bronx Parks Speak Up! meeting) the Vision 2020 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan for New York City has finally been released.  The plan consists of projects to revitalize NYC’s 520 miles of waterfront on two different time scales: a three-year action agenda comprised of 130 funded projects and the more complete Vision 2020 which will guide shoreline development for the next decade.  Some of the ecological highlights include  $50 million in ecological restoration projects, restored tidal wetlands and marshland in Bronx and Brooklyn parks, and a large scale oyster restoration project.  The City aims to complete many of the short-term projects by 2013, so keep a look out for changes along the waterfront near you.

If you’d like to see the complete Vision 2020 Plan, you can check it out on the Dept. of City Planning website here.


A free lecture about urban agriculture and rooftop agriculture will be held at the NYBG on Thursday March 17th from 10pm-noon.  It is going to be really really cool!  Check it out here:


Food Justice

Food, ecology, cities, health, science, equity, access, life, green space, nature, nourishment. These and many other concepts were infused with new life and meaning during a recent conference at the University of Oregon on Food Justice. Rather than attempt an explanation of the many, varied concepts and challenges surrounding issues of agriculture, food access, and equality addressed at the conference, I have listed below some of my own questions that arose from this three-day interdisciplinary discussion.

  • What are the non-negotiables for the new food system?
  • What role does urban farming play in the regional food system?
  • What are the global systems connections to local and regional systems?
  • How doe neighbors respond to urban/suburban farms?
  • What is the relationship between farmers and the urban poor?
  • Is land ownership a right in the minds of farmers? How does this relate to the lack of land ownership for many urban residents, renters, and poor rural residents?

Resources from the conference:

  • Food Justice – Conference website
  • Food System Analysis for New York – Dr. Christian Peters, professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
  • The Greenhorns – A community organizing initiative supporting young American farmers
  • Civil Eats – Blog promoting critical thought about sustainable agriculture and food systems as part of building economically and socially just communities
  • Garden Maps – An interactive map of urban farms and gardens in New York City

Paul serves as the Executive Director of the Gaia Institute and leads the staff in pursuing the Institute’s mission of exploring through research, development, design and education the interrelationship between human communities and natural systems.  They are located on City Island, Bronx!  BX Pride!

Our next meeting is Monday, February 28 at 8 pm in Larkin 150.  Hope everyone can make it!

Red honey in Red Hook. Photo courtesy of New York Times.

It can be a huge disappointment when the things that we understand to be wild abandon their natural lifestyle to operate within the realm of human development.  We want to see grizzly bears tramping through the forest, foraging on berries or capturing salmon, not picking through landfills, gorging themselves on our refuse.  We expect more from our wildlife; at the very least we expect them to serve as proof that we haven’t totally ruined nature.  Seeing wildlife behave under our human influence feels like both a betrayal and a source of guilt.  This wonderful story in the New York Times provides a fascinating example of wildlife adjusting to city life.  Of particular interest is the reaction of the Brooklynites, whose efforts to incorporate ecology into their urban lives are hindered by the very bees they try to raise.  Thanks Jamie!

A few of us went out to Jamaica Bay on Thursday 2/10. We did not see too many species compared to a normal Jamaica Bay trip because of high winds and the two main ponds being frozen over, but below it was still a good time! The highlights were 2 northern harriers (A NYS threatened species) hunting over the marsh, and a single fox sparrow hanging out at the ranger station feeder (a rare sight since we are at the northern edge of their normal range). The white throats were practicing their singing and were able to belt out partial songs…. spring is on the way!

We’ll be making at least 2 more trips in the spring, once early on during shorebird migration, and again in May for warblers. Below is the complete (yet small)  list:

mallard x black duck
northern harrier
slate colored junco
black capped chickadee
song sparrow
white throated sparrow
surf scoter
red breasted merganser
fox sparrow
canada goose
ring billed gull
herring gull
greater black backed gull