The Parks Department asked us to design and build a playground in a spot that had been abandoned for 10 years. We engineered a surfacing plan that would capture rainwater runoff and direct it toward the trees, while providing a velvety smooth surface for skateboarding, wheelchair sports, biking, and free play. Our architects worked with professional skateboarders to create a simple open layout, which was approved by Parks, and we were awarded an Adopt a Parks agreement. We brought in moveable equipment that we set up and took down each day. We stored the equipment and our clean-up supplies in the renovated parkhouse, we opened and supervised the bathrooms, and we kept Squibb open, all volunteer, for two years.
Following this successful experience, Parks opened Squibb to the public. Here are pictures of it all.
Contractors applying the Sports Coat according to our specifications
Our design captures rainwater runoff and directs it toward the trees, while providing a velvety smooth surface for scooters, bikes, skateboards and free play
Squibb was abandoned and shut down for 10 years, and looked like this (above) when we took on the design and stewardship of the project.
Photographs and Blog Post by Paula Hewitt. As the
school year begins we are continuing to work on FOOD, our advocacy program with
youth that improves fresh food and drinking water in NYC schools. We're working
in five zones all around NYC, and youth are making maps, art, and helping to
improve food gardens on NYC school land, park land, and community gardens. With
the election of Mayor Bill DeBlasio there are some new commissioners in the
city departments we work with, and also in the last few years there have been
some new people working at the city and state level related to our FOOD
is the DEP Commissioner:
Lloyd’s leadership, the federal government recognized DEP for its watershed
protection programs, earning New York City the status as one of only five
cities in the country where the majority of its water supply does not require
filtration—saving the city billions of dollars". Source: nyc.gov
She was Commissioner of the NYC Department of Santiation from '92 to '94,
during the time that Open Road youth leaders Nando Rodriguez, Raphael Santiago,
Lisa Rivera, and Melissa Ramos were working with Tom Outerbridge from DOS on
the design and construction of Open Road Park and the Hot Box composting bin. A
landfill liner and dozens of truckloads of compost from Fresh Kills, along with
expertise from Bill Young, made the remediation of contaminated soil at Open
Road Park successful.
In the summers of 2013 and 2014 we went on road trips with kids to NYC ponds and reservoirs and to watershed areas upstate. We traced our drinking water from bodies of water upstate to our water fountains and taps in the city. We made 2D and 3D water maps. We used Oasis maps as the base for NYC locations, and USGS maps and travel maps outside the city.
We added 3D topography to blueprints of NYC gardens and rooftops
This blueprint of the Seward Park roof (above) in lower manhattan shows gravity fed water tubes and rainwater harvest tanks.
This 3D model (above) shows an imaginary sinkhole, waterway, and reservoir with topographical elements exaggerated in a cartoonish way
This way we could understand the lines in the topo map above.
We made 3D digital models, using the elevations from a real garden, and showed the reservoirs, ponds, swales, streams and cement water holding tanks under the ground
We superimposed an aerial photo over the 3D digital map so it looks realistic
It's easy to make the topo maps with child safety scissors, a pencil and a rubber mat
Parts of the topographical water maps are moveable, so people can move, rearrange and replace parts of the maps. This helps them understand the map features, by playing with them.
On August 6 young urban farmers working with Open Road and the Bronx Enchanted Garden harvested fresh fruits and vegetables to serve in the school cafeteria. The next day the young farmers served the food themselves alongside cafeteria staff to hundreds of teenagers in the JFK school building in the Bronx. This is all part of FOOD, a program of Open Road in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and Garden to Cafe. Click here for our map of food gardens and summer meals. Danny Steiner of Bronx Theater High School guided the team in how to harvest carrots, tomatoes, peaches, sorrel, and many more fresh delicious vegetables and fruits. Open Road has worked with the Enchanted Garden since its beginnings as a trash filled vacant lot, and one of the original youth co-founders of the garden, Oz, led the team through a colorful history of the design and development of the Enchanted Garden. Stormwater ponds and swales run through the garden, and these are not working. We are working with the students at the JFK campus to redesign this system, and improve the garden for food growing. You can find photographs at these links. Photos by Paula Hewitt Amram of Open Road. Harvesting: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104921896947876024446/albums/6044521970942772801 Serving: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/104921896947876024446/albums/6044880985893343361 In each of five zones, FOOD youth have mapped sites where public meals are provided, entered data onto Google Maps, and surveyed locations to assure they were operating as advertised. Beyond the youth staff and volunteers, hundreds more youth and families are benefiting from improved gardens, increased rates of healthy fresh food in public feeding programs, and community art and architecture our youth are producing related to food. Our youth team has been advocating for improved menus at public feeding programs, and have met with SchoolFood officials and elected officials in the City Council to advance this work. This youth team has advocated for fresh food grown in the city and on nearby farms to be included in the menu of public feeding programs, and in each zone the team has intensively studied, assessed, and surveyed the menu of at least one public feeding program, to ensure improvements are made. Our youth team has held 10 events to alert the community to locations where food should be served to youth, to share food grown in gardens, and involve neighborhood people in our advocacy.