An upcoming documentary entitled Landfill Harmonic chronicles the work of Favio Chavez, who is using trash to inspire his local community in Cateura, Paraguay. The documentary follows Chavez, landfill technician and director of the appropriately named Recycled Orchestra, as he constructs musical instruments made of trash sourced directly from the landfill. He provides these instruments to local youth both to inspire them and to try to keep them out of gangs – an unfortunate and all-too-common fate for many in Cateura. He also hopes to use the Recycled Orchestra as a platform from which to teach the importance of recycling, conservation, and the hazards of wastefulness.
At first, building the instruments was a difficult task for Chavez, a landfill technician with only basic carpentry skills. But over the course of four years, Chavez has perfected his craft, discovering which materials works best for each instrument. The film depicts how an oil drum and meat tenderizers can sound as deep and rich as a cello, and that music can be a force to change the lives of a marginalized community.
Like Freshkills Park, Favio Chavez and his Recycled Orchestra are finding opportunities in what is, to many, simply a blighted landscape.
Stapleton, a neighborhood of Denver, Colorado has released an innovative plan to turn the decommissioned Stapleton Airport into a 4,700 acre mixed-use sustainable development. The planning for this development started more than 10 years ago after the completion of the nearby Denver International Airport, which effectively replaced Stapleton International Airport. Currently, even with less than half of the construction complete, 4,000 of the 8,000 single-family homes and 4,000 apartments have already been purchased. Alongside the housing developments are 12 million square feet of office and retail space, nine schools, and 1,100 acres of reserved park space with 36 miles of trails.
Working with developer ForestCity, the Stapleton community has reinvented a problematic site. Stapleton will provide the city of Denver with a major infusion of residential, commercial, and green space. The redevelopment of Stapleton International Airport is part of a global phenomenon – around the world, from Austin, Texas to Hong Kong, cities are creatively reusing old airports.
Though Stapleton Airport and Freshkills Park have much different histories, they share the mission of writing an alternate future by transforming overlooked and underutilized spaces into local and regional destinations.
The thirtieth annual “Wreath Interpretations” exhibition is on view through Thursday at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park (at Fifth Avenue and 64th Street). The exhibit features over 40 different interpretations of the holiday tradition. Among the many artists featured in the exhibition is Freshkills Park Capital Program Manager Angelyn Chandler, whose contribution, “Salad Days,” was one of the wreaths singled out in a recent review of the show in the New York Times. As the author noted, “[Salad Days] manages to cull beauty from a metal garbage pail, a salad spinner and LEDs.”
Freshkills Park just received a great write-up in the New York Times! The piece, available in print today and online here, written by architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, emphasizes the Park’s role in buffering surrounding communities from the impact of Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge. As a site still in-progress, Freshkills Park is already proving itself to be an important asset for local Staten Islanders, and for New Yorkers in general.
The article is accompanied by a great seven-minute video that features Freshkills Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh touring the site with Kimmelman. The video tour provides an opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
The Freshkills Park Development Team would like to acknowledge the dozens of volunteers who came out on Sunday, October 28th to help with the Schmul Park Clean-up. Even though Superstorm Sandy loomed on the horizon, members of the local Travis Civic Association, along with New York Cares volunteers from throughout the Five Boroughs, and even middle schoolers from IS 72′s Green Team program, came out for a day of public service. The focus of the Clean-up was debris along the southeastern edge of Schmul and was a great success. Such projects are indicative of how critical community partnerships are to the continued stewardship of New York’s great public spaces. Now that Staten Island is facing a daunting clean-up we’ve seen that the energy and dedication that typifies our partners in Travis is indeed borough-wide.
So THANK YOU to all of our volunteers! We hope to see all of you, along with some new faces, at the clean-up we’re planning for Spring 2013 (date TBC)!
We would also like to wish everyone, particularly our neighbors on Staten Island, a happy, restful Thanksgiving after such a difficult month.
As habitat is restored in Freshkills Park, many animal species have already returned to the site, including foxes, turtles, egrets, rabbits, deer, and, as of recently, a coyote. In fact, coyotes are becoming increasingly prevalent in urbanized areas across the U.S., leading to conflicts over how to handle these wild animals when they come into contact with humans.
Coyotes find suburban areas particularly attractive for the abundant availability of food sources, including pet food, human food scraps, fruit trees, rodents, and even small pets. An article in the New York Times today highlights the difficulties that can arise in coexisting with these large predators. However, the article also noted the proactive approach that Denver has taken to prevent and safely manage conflicts with coyotes.
Founded in 2008, Project Coyote works with communities to develop “coexistence plans” that focus on strategic hazing, or training residents, animal control officers and parks staff to use consistent and persistent deterrents like loud noises, water spraying, bright lights, throwing objects, shouting and chasing coyotes.
Denver adopted a hazing-based management plan three years ago, sending out teams, for example, to scare off coyotes that had taken to trotting after joggers in a public park. And according to a case study prepared by wildlife specialists with the Humane Society and Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department, officials report that hazing has successfully reversed “aggressive and undesirable behaviors in coyote family groups and solitary coyotes, reducing pet attacks in neighborhoods and reducing the overall number of complaints from residents.”
In Denver, the killing of coyotes was reserved as a last resort — an action to be taken only in response to human attacks — but no lethal control has been used since the hazing program began in 2009. According to the case study, “one of the novel and cost-savings aspects of the program is its hands-on and empowering nature — it gives local residents the ability and confidence to address coyote conflicts in their own backyards, without outside help.” Similar programs are being developed or put into effect around the country.
Hopefully, the coyote spotted at Freshkills Park will be content to have the whole the park to himself for the time being, but the Denver example shows that education and local empowerment can play an important role in learning to live with urban coyotes.
(via New York Times)
If you’ve been to Sneak Peak, perhaps you’ve noticed your own reflection in the side of a Department of Sanitation garbage truck.
This 20 cubic-yard garbage truck faced with hand-tempered mirror is The Social Mirror by artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles. The Social Mirror debuted in the grand finale of the first NYC Art Parade in 1983 and was most recently exhibited at the 2007 Armory Show. According to Ukeles, “This project allowed citizens to see themselves linked with the handlers of their waste.”
Since publishing Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969!, Ukeles’s work has revolved around the role of the artist and our relationship to maintenance and service work, and most importantly the workers who perform these essential, everyday tasks for the rest of society. She has worked as the first and only official artist-in-residence for the New York City Department of Sanitation since 1977, where her projects have included Touch Sanitation (1978-1984) and Flow City (1983-1996) .
Not surprisingly, Ukeles has also played an important role in the Freshkills Park project, advocating for a public park on the site since 1989. She has produced several gallery installations on Freshkills and was a contributor to the Draft Master Plan for the park. Ukeles is currently designing a permanent nature viewing platform and two related earth works in South Park as part of the City’s Percent for Art program.
Find out more about maintenance art and Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s work in this video from the 2011 Creative Time Summit.
On September 23rd, Freshkills Park hosted our biggest Sneak Peak event yet. The third annual Sneak Peak drew over 2,500 visitors to the North Park section of the future park.
This year’s Sneak Peak featured free bicycle rentals for the first time as a fun way to get around the site more quickly. Also new this year, visitors helped decorate the bridge over Main Creek by creating a mural with Council on the Arts and Humanities of Staten Island.
And, as always, visitors were able to take in the incredible view and fly kites on the top of North Mound, watch for birds, kayak in Main Creek, explore a hike and bike loop, and participate in a variety of fun and educational activities throughout the day along the main event path. Plus, the Department of Transportation’s free bike helmet fitting station gave away 511 more brand-new helmets this year!
The day was a great success and next year’s Sneak Peak will be even bigger and better! As Staten Island resident Richie Ignazio remarked, “Everybody should experience this, it’s unbelievable!”
Schmul Park was officially opened yesterday. This reconstructed neighborhood park is the first portion of Freshkills Park to open to the public. The reconstructed Schmul Park now features a colorful playground, new handball and basketball courts, a grass lawn, and a modern comfort station. The park design incorporated many sustainable elements including low maintenance landscaping with native plant species, reduced energy and water consumption in the comfort station, and stormwater best management practices, including permeable pavements and a rain garden. Schmul Park will serve as the neighborhood entrance to Freshkills Park for the Travis community.