Highlights from the Reclaimed Lands Conference

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Panel on pushing the boundaries and developing new strategies for reclaimed land sites with Ed Toth, Seth Wollney, Brian Staresnick, and Steven Handel, moderated by Chris Streb. (Photo: Andy Wanning)

The four-day Reclaimed Lands Conference brought together researchers, practitioners, planners, ecologists, artists, designers, community groups, and students to bridge the gaps between disciplines and productively explore the issues and initiatives surrounding these post-industrial reclaimed landscapes. With field trips and panels at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch, participants discussed topics like monitoring changes in biodiversity, designing ecologically sustainable re-development, engaging residents in stewardship, and transforming public perceptions.

Thursday, June 28

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Hon. ASLA gave the opening keynote. That morning, Freshkills Park Manager for Science and Research Cait Field moderated a panel on transforming perceptions of reclaimed lands with Denise Hoffman-Brandt, Melissa Zavala, Li Sumpter, Devin Mathis, and Lisa Manne. In the afternoon, Michelle Johnson moderated a panel on placemaking, education, and stewardship with Bonnie Ralston, Kelly O’Donnell, Isa Del Bello, and Christine Petro. The day concluded with a guided field trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park led by Isa Del Bello.

Friday, June 29

The following day started with a guided field trip to Freshkills Park, led by Cait Field and Eloise Hirsh. SCAPE Design Principal Gena Wirth gave the keynote that afternoon. Chris Streb moderated a panel on pushing the boundaries and developing new strategies for reclaimed land sites with Ed Toth, Seth Wollney, Brian Staresnick, and Steven Handel. The day concluded with a panel on ecological changes, moderated by Jen Krumins, with Jose Ramirez-Garofalo, Dwane Jones, Richard Pouyat, Pete Malinowski, and Justin Bowers.

Saturday, June 30

On Saturday morning, Jennifer Krumins led a tour of Liberty State Park. Lunch involved breakout sessions with special topics workshops: “With Wildlife in Mind,” moderated by Sunny Corrao; “Exploring Urban Environmental Justice,” moderated by Eugenia Naro-Maciel and Cait Field; “The Landfill Project: What if not a Park?” moderated by Sonya Gimon and Martha Wilson; and “Reflections on Freshkills Park: Field R/D,” moderated by Mariel Villeré, Joe Riley, Audrey Snyder, and Nancy Nowacek. Ecological Society of America (ESA) President Richard Pouyat gave the keynote that afternoon. The final panel, moderated by Richard Hallett, discussed the inherent possibilities presented by reclaimed landscapes, with Katy Sommo, Alexander Felson, George Leahy, Elizabeth Nichols, and Kristy King.

Sunday, July 1

The conference concluded with a tour of Penn & Fountain Landfills, led by John McLaughlin.

Thank you to all of our attendees and speakers, the conference planning committee, the NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program, our sponsors including lead sponsor AECOM, and NYC Parks.

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