Freshkills Park Development, Programs and Outreach
2008-2012. My work on the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation’s Freshkills Park development team was managing three major strategic initiatives. First was defining projects and seeking grant funding for relatively light near-term capital projects—visitor centers, bike and pedestrian paths, interpretive signage, sports fields, wetland restoration—that could engage visitors to peripheral areas of the park, in the interest of gradually building public familiarity with the site from the outside in as larger scale park development proceeded—as well as raising funds for programmatic needs and goals to support that growth agenda.
Next was to develop a set of programs to make more legible, concrete and inspiring the massive new park site for new and potential users. Along with other team members, I participated in extensive conversation and alliance-building with many, many civic and citizen groups, cultural organizations, schools, and individual residents of both Staten Island and New York City at large. Having developed a clearer understanding of the project's various constituencies, I conceived and collaborated to stage art performances, tours, lectures, field trips, an annual park preview day, and a mobile app all focused on on the goal of serving these various audiences and their desires for engaging with the site in advance of its full build-out.
To complement these programs, I developed and designed a range of print and digital materials clearly explaining the history and infrastructure of the Freshkills Park site, the regulations and process governing it and the park development projects underway within it, as well as materials that would connect the park project to other related and more near-term accessible projects and activities and keep it alive in public imagination as pre-construction proceeded.
The New Springville Greenway.A recently completed 3.3-mile bike path running along the east side of the park. Funded by a grant I scoped and adminstered. Photo by Michael Tatar, Staten Island Advance.
The Visitor Center. A temporary Visitor Center that currently serves as an educational stop on the site's bus tour and also as staging ground for events. I developed the content and managed the design for the exhibits.
Sneak Peak at Freshkills Park, 2010 and 2011: An annual event I conceived and co-directed, conceptualized as a park preview event to allow the public to experience and be inspired by a 233-acre sector of the 2,200-acre site as parkland for the day, with many of the normal limitations on access and activity suspended. A number of programming and funding partnerships were forged with local organizations and businesses. Attractions included kayaking and canoeing in the site’s creeks, biking its trails, walking tours, public art installations, kite making and flying, food vendors, craft markets, live music, information fairs, composting and craft workshops, birdhouse building, pony rides, e-waste recycling and more. Most of these were first-ever activities in the history of the site. The event was a huge success and has become an annual tradition and a cornerstone of fundraising and constituency building for the park project.
Sneak Peak brought the New York Water Taxi to the site—the first time a passenger ship had docked there in over 50 years. This photo and the one above it by Michael Anton/NYC Department of Sanitation.
I am Within/Without. A sculptural installation by D.B. Lampman. The first art installation ever on site. Photo by D.B. Lampman.
PARK.A performance developed by choreographer Kathy Westwater and her collaborators, me among them, over the course of several intensive site visits and performed on-site.
Educational Presentations. I developed a variety of educational presentations aimed at student groups from elementary school through college.
Freshkills Park Blog. I created, designed, wrote and edited the blog. Since the park is a limited-access, long-term development in a remote corner of New York City, it was important to offset by maintaining an active and frequent presence in the minds of its existing and potential advocates; the blog was part of the resulting strategy. It served as a hub for stories related to all of the intellectually interesting aspects of the park: landfills, recycling, landscape architecture, New York City development and history, art, renewable energy and more, in addition to any news and media relating to park development and programming. In conjunction with a lecture series I ran on related topics, the blog was one of the only ways for the general public to easily engage with—and virtually gain access to—the park on a regular basis.
Fresh Perspectives Newsletter. I served as primary editor and designer of every issue in addition to writing a large share of the content, producing illustrations and taking a number of the photos. PDF archives are availablehere.
Native Meadow Mix Seed Packets. Packets of native meadow seed that I conceived and co-developed as a giveaway to site visitors. As park development at the site is slow and long-term, the seed packets were conceptualized as a way to have something tangible, personal and positive for constituents to take home and engage with in relation to the in the near term. Another intention was to shift the site’s implicit identity from connotations of waste and environmental degradation to those of ecological restoration, sustainability and growth. Native, local species provided will be used in meadow restoration at the site as well used to cultivate even more seed at an on-site farm for further restoration efforts: planting these seeds at home, in gardens and pots, offer a preview of the park to come.
From the Ground Up
2010. ResilientCity.org held a design ideas competition to solicit new strategies from urban practitioners in planning and designing cities to be resilient to large-scale shocks like climate change and peak oil. Urban designer Michael Haggerty and I prepared a response to the prompt of designing for food self-sufficiency in an urban neighborhood.
Through study of the struggling West Side neighborhood in Newark, NJ, we developed a strategy that created a hierarchy of food production and processing facilities capitalizing on existing neighborhood assets, vacant properties, community history and workforce mobilization. Facilities were connected by a green corridor system designed to be a safe public space permitting distribution and exchange. We proposed networks of social and physical infrastructure to allow the neighborhood to generate and manage its own energy, water and heating and waste systems. The proposal won the competition’s grand prize.
Concept development and writing was a shared enterprise; I laid out and developed design language for the proposal and produced photo-illustrations and diagrams.
2007. My master’s thesis (PDF, 10MB) in urban planning focused on mobile user-generated and location-accessed digital annotation of physical places with text and media, and how this emerging field can be useful to urban planners and designers. The thesis establishes a taxonomy of modes of spatial annotation (both physical and virtual); catalogues annotations made in two neighborhoods each for the projects Yellow Arrow (in New York City) and [murmur] (in Toronto); and develops a preliminary methodology to analyze and compare trends in distribution, placement and content of annotations. So-called ‘placelogging’ content is found to distinguish itself from other forms of spatial annotation by its application a wide range of public and private places with predominantly subjective, first-person content.
Participant interviews and research on related technologies are used to support claims that placelogging could be used to identify sites of shared meaning in the city as well as to foster place attachment, claim to space and social connections among participants. Uses in community development are considered through three case studies of implementation. Uses for revealed meanings are proposed in preservation, identification of development priorities and sensitivity of response in urban development.