Freshkills Park Blog

Landfill Harmonic, a documentary on making music from trash



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.

January 29, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freshkills Park featured in the New York Times!


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.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

City of Systems: Waste Removal

A recent video on Urban Omnibus, featuring Garbage Land and Bottlemania author Elizabeth Royte, offers a glimpse behind the complex process of everyday garbage collection in New York City. Combining interview, animated graphics, and often poetic archival and present-day footage, the video tells a succinct story of one citizen’s look into the past, present, and possible future of municipal solid waste management. It’s a refreshing first-person perspective on a universal element of daily life for city dwellers.

The video is one of four in their City of Systems series, a suite of videos taking a behind the scenes look at some of the complex systems that enable New York City to function.

January 26, 2012 Posted by | FKP | , , , | 4 Comments

Here and there

A clear and compelling promotional video by the Dan Region of Towns in Tel-Aviv for their transformation of the Hiriya Landfill into a 2000-acre park focused on environmental sustainability.  Sound like a familiar type of project? The many folks involved in planning, building and educating about the site and the lessons it can teach have been great supporters of the Freshkills Park project.  It is exciting to have these twin projects moving forward simultaneously.

December 15, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing the Freshkills Park+ smartphone app

We’re excited to introduce a new way of engaging with the Freshkills Park site: Freshkills Park+, an augmented-reality guide to the site’s many facilities, vistas, natural and manmade features.  The experience, which is available to users of iPhone 4, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices, was constructed using the Layar browser, which makes use of a phone’s camera, GPS, compass and accelerometer to enhance what is seen with a layer of digital information.  Users are able to view the landscape through their phone, and Freshkills Park+ provides relevant information, audio, video, links and downloads in real time.

Freshkills Park+ was developed by Carlos J. Gomez de Llarena of the New York-based media architecture studio Med44 in partnership with the the Freshkills Park outreach team.  The use of a smartphone app to provide information to site visitors doesn’t just provide the opportunity for a handheld self-guide–it also responds to site constraints.  Physical, foundation-supported signs are not currently a viable option on site due to the vast network of underground landfill infrastructure.

The layer is now live and can be used to identify art, infrastructure, landmarks and more this Sunday, October 2nd, at Sneak Peak.  We’ll continue to update it as time goes on and park development proceeds.

September 26, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

How my junk mail turned into this NYC pizza box

A clip from 2008 History Channel program “The Works” features Staten Island’s Pratt Industries, where more than half of New York City’s paper is recycled.  This is a terrific clip that explains the infrastructure required for paper collection and processing as well as spelling out the steps of paper recycling.  Some excellent names for equipment in this process:

  • A Grappler grabs a handful of paper, weighing about 10 tons;
  • The paper is dropped into the Pulper, which douses paper in 30,000 gallons of water, breaking it down into individual fibers;
  • The paper pulp continues to break down in the Dump Chest, filtering out all plastic and metal contaminants;
  • The pulp is poured into Drier Cans:  steel drums, heated to about 350 degrees F, that evaporate all moisture and create sheets of paper about 20 miles long.

(via everydaytrash)

July 1, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | 2 Comments

Reusing building materials in park construction

Another animated video in the American Society for Landscape Architects (ASLA)’s sustainable design series demonstrates how to sustainably reclaim building materials for use in new park construction.  The clip highlights ways to convert a former building site into a new open space while minimizing waste and maximizing use of recycled materials.

(via The Dirt)

March 8, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , , , | 2 Comments

Wind energy without the turbines

Among the features in the New York Times 2010 Year in Ideas was a short animated video illustrating vibro-wind technology, which harvests wind energy without the use of traditionally large, bladed turbines.  Instead, wind causes an array of lightweight members in a vibro-wind installation to oscillate; connection to a piezoelectric transducer converts the mechanical energy of that oscillation into electricity.  The technology is young, but a research group at  Columbia University developed and built a vibro-wind prototype last year.  If successful, it could be installed on building facades, rooftops, and various other urban infrastructure, purportedly at lower cost than larger-scale turbines.

(via Jetson Green)

February 11, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , | Leave a comment

Department of Energy wind energy webinars

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently held the first 2011 webinar in their series Wind Powering America, through which energy experts present and discuss current issues relating to wind power.  These online conferences are free to the public and take place on the third Wednesday of every month. The next webinar, on February 16th, will examine wind power financing options.  If you can’t make it, or if you have missed any others, the DOE keeps an archive in both podcast and text formats.

(via Inhabitat)

February 9, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , | Leave a comment

Sustainable stormwater management, animated

A follow-up (or preface) to Dana Gumb’s lecture: as part of its series of sustainable design videos (including the brownfield remediation piece we featured recently), the American Society of Landscape Architects has produced an animated video on designing landscapes to assist in stormwater management.  The clip communicates the benefits of green roofs, permeable pavement, and bioswales—three of the most important infrastructural components in sustainable stormwater management.  It’s a short and clear introduction to the topic.

(via The Dirt)

February 1, 2011 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | 2 Comments


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