From Behind the Mounds: Building the Freshkills Park Community
“I see green as far as I can see,” a third grader said as he stood on top of North Mound. One of the 495 students who visited Freshkills Park this fall, this child readily grasped the mission of the park: to turn what once was the world’s largest landfill into one of the largest green areas in New York City.
Eighteen schools and 495 students, ranging from third graders to seniors in high school, have taken advantage of the free field trips offered this fall by Freshkills Park. The students assume the role of park planners, naturalists, and adventurers. They trek up to the top of North Mound, observe local flora and fauna, and jot down or sketch suggestions for future park development on their clipboards. Through these activities, students become personally invested in the planning and development of the park.
Many times, the students ask, “when can I come back?” This question demonstrates that the school tours are a vital component of our outreach. When students start to learn and care about the park, they are more motivated to attend events at Freshkills, start weighing trash in classrooms, and spread the word about this exciting project.
By the time all of Freshkills Park opens to the public, that third grader will be thirty years old. Through school tours and community outreach, we hope to involve this child and his peers in the whole park development process. This way the enthusiasm, imagination, and wonder of this younger generation will be an integral part of the growing park.