August 10, 2014

Water Maps

Photographs and Blog Post by Paula Hewitt

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.

Growing Food in the Bronx

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. 


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.