Freshkills Park Blog

Pondering plastics, pollution and purpose

Information and reflection on plastic marine pollution continues to increase: as if the Great Pacific Garbage Patch weren’t cause for enough distress,the Sea Education Association (SEA) recently completed a two-decade study on the Atlantic Ocean and  reports that a large volume of discarded plastic also floats in the North Atlantic Gyre, trapped together by ocean currents and causing harm to fish and bird species inhabiting the area.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dr. Marcus Eriksen, director of research and education at California’s Algalita Marine Research Foundation, will be speaking at the American Museum of Natural History this Sunday, March 14th, about his research and about the impact of plastic marine pollution in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Sunday, March 14, 12pm
Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, first floor
The American Museum of Natural History

Admission is free with museum admission

And for a more fable-like, existential take on the journey of plastic to this watery grave, filmmaker Ramin Bahrani’s short film Plastic Bag is now viewable online.  The film follows the lifetime of one plastic bag, from initial use to disposal and, eventually, out to sea.  At 18 minutes long, it’s not just a public service announcement but also an art film.  Fittingly, then, it features music by Sigur Ros‘s Kjartan Sveinsson and narration by German filmmaker Werner Herzog.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artists engaging the environment, at Wave Hill

Fresh Kills Landfill Percent for Art artist Mierle Ukeles will be moderating a panel discussion on “engaging the environment” through artistic practice, with Winter Workspace Artists Susan Benarcik, Eve Mosher and Anne Katrin Spiess, Sunday at Wave Hill in the Bronx.  Winter Workspace, which started in January and runs through March 21st, has allowed seven visual artists to develop new work at Wave Hill, making use of the site’s garden and woodland while reflecting on the Hudson River.

Sunday, March 7th, 2pm
Wave Hill House
West 249th St. and Independence Ave., Bronx
Reservations are recommended through the website

or by calling 718.549.3200 x 305.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Utopias, art and Freshkills Park at Snug Harbor

Currently on view at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor in Staten Island is Hope-A-Holic, a group exhibition of 21 artists exploring Utopian ideas in contemporary work. The show features installation, drawing, painting, video, performance and interactive works.

The Freshkills Park team will take part in a program in conjunction with Hope-A-Holic called Trash to Treasure, this Tuesday, February 23rd at 6pm. Trash to Treasure will feature a presentation about the Freshkills Park project, including a history of the site, details about the park’s master plan and our current projects and programs. This presentation will be followed by a workshop given by the Staten Island Compost Project outlining the simple steps involved in composting at home.

Trash to Treasure
Tuesday, February 23rd, 6pm
FREE | to RSVP, please email or call (718) 425-3557.

Hope-A-Holic will run until April 4th. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students and free for kids 12 and under.

February 22, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC waterfront panel discussions

CUNY’s Institute for Sustainable Cities is hosting a four-part series of free public seminars starting this Wednesday, February 24th.  Turning the Tide: New York’s Waterfront in Transition aims to address topics and issues related to the City’s relationship with its coastline and to review its history and future of waterfront development.  The City’s waterfront has been its most contentious and most transformed frontier over the past ten years; with panelists from the Bronx River Alliance, the New York Restoration Project, Sustainable South Bronx and the Departments of Parks & Recreation and City Planning, this should be an interesting and active set of conversations.  Registration is recommended–space is limited.

Wed. Feb. 24, 2010: “Opening Out Towards the Water”– The Big Picture
Wed. March 17, 2010: Waterfront Parks: Old, New, Green, Blue
Wed. April 7, 2010: Seizing Opportunities: Waterfront Works in Progress
Wed. April 28, 2010: Reviving the Estuary: Science, Politics, and Education

February 22, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Figment casts open call for artists

Figment, the participatory public arts project on Governor’s Island, is preparing for its fourth annual summer event and has released its call for art and architecture proposals.  There are three open competitions:

  1. Design an individual hole to compose part of an 18-hole mini-golf course. This year’s theme is World’s Fair.  This was a very popular installation last year.  Proposals are due by March 1.
  2. Proposals for artworks works to be featured in the City of Dreams Sculpture Garden.  16 works were featured last year.  Proposals are due by March 1.
  3. Design and construct an architectural pavilion for the 2010 summer season which will serve as a gathering and performance space as well as a venue for learning about arts programs on the Island.  Registration deadline for this one is February 16th.

(via Governor’s Island Blog)

February 11, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

John McLaughlin on Penn and Fountain Landfills

John McLaughlin gave a rich and informative talk Tuesday night at the Metropolitan Exchange, discussing the development of his ecological design for the Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue Landfills along Brooklyn’s Jamaica Bay coast.  Our thanks to the many folks who came out to hear John talk about his work, and, of course, to John himself.

Much of the discussion focused on the takeaway lessons of ecological restoration on landfills.  Among them:

  • trees roots did not penetrate the landfill cap but spread laterally;
  • when you need to make use of an enormous volume of soil, it’s cheapest to generate that soil yourself–in Penn and Fountain’s case, by mixing compost with sand;
  • careful attention to soil composition, and to its variation for different plant communities, is critical; so is contractor familiarity with restoration practices.

Urban Omnibus has also posted a brief recap of the talk.  A PDF of the full presentation is available here.  No audio from this talk, but if you’re interested in hearing John speak about the project, WNYC recorded this interview with him in 2007.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birdwatching tour in New York Times

This past Sunday’s birdwatching tour at the Freshkills Park site is featured in today’s New York Times (and also on the City Room blog, where you can read and post comments).  The sky was overcast and hazy, but we still spotted a dozen or more red-tailed hawks and several northern harriers in addition to meadowlarks, buffleheads, hooded mergansers and great black backed gulls.  We’ve been operating these four-season tours in conjunction with the Staten Island Museum for the last year; our next birdwatching tour is at the end of March, just before the April relaunch of the general public tour season.  If you’re not already on our e-mail newsgroup list, you can sign up to receive biweekly updates on upcoming public programs and RSVP-only opportunities, including the next birdwatching tour.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Next Freshkills Park Talk: Tuesday, January 26th

The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues on Tuesday with John McLaughlin, Director of Ecological Services for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  John designed and oversees the ecological reclamation of the Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue landfills, sited along Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn.  Together, the two landfills, which operated from the late 1950s and early 1960s through the early 1980s, comprise 400 acres and contain millions of tons of waste–primarily residential waste and construction and demolition debris.  As with other landfills in the City and elsewhere, there grew concern about the impact of the landfill on adjoining populations and ecosystems.   After a commitment from the City to address these concerns, ecological rehabilitation began in 2004, under John’s managment.  The sites will ultimately be opened to public access as natural areas.

The rehabilitation work has been a massive and fascinating undertaking–it was featured in The New York Times in September.  John will discuss the history of the two landfill sites, the development of their reclamation plans and the lessons learned from the project.  The talk will be co-hosted by the Metropolitan Exchange, an architecture, urban planning and research cooperative in downtown Brooklyn.

Tuesday, January 26, 6:30 p.m. @ the Metropolitan Exchange
33 Flatbush Avenue, 6th floor, Brooklyn

January 22, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unnatural History of Salt Marshes

A lecture on the biology of salt marshes, tonight at the Arsenal.

Natural habitats and ecosystems are delicate things, and in this lecture, you’ll learn the natural history of salt marshes and their plants and animals, along with the “unnatural history” of how humans have altered and damaged them physically, chemically, and biologically. The presentation is given by Judith Weiss, a professor of biological science at Rutgers University and an expert on estuarine biology. She recently co-authored the book Salt Marshes: A Natural and Unnatural History, and it will be available for purchase at the event.

Wednesday, January 13, 6pm
Central Park Arsenal, 3rd Floor
64th St. at 5th Ave.
Admission is free

January 13, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Restorative Landscapes panel discussion

The New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects is hosting a panel discussion on Restorative Landscapes tomorrow evening, January 14th.  The panel will be comprised of:

Restorative Landscapes
Thursday, January 14th, 6:30 pm
The Arsenal, Fifth Avenue & 65th Street
Admission $20, $15 for NYASLA members
RSVP in advance:

January 13, 2010 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment