UNION SQUARE PARK is a national historic landmark recognized for its role as a gathering place for civic demonstrations. It is also a successful neighborhood “backyard” and a crossroads situated above a busy transportation hub. A key contribution to the park’s and neighborhood’s current vibrancy was the creation of a farmers’ market there in 1976 (the Union Square Greenmarket) which is now Manhattan’s largest and longest running greenmarket. In this workshop you are asked to consider how Union Square, with its already successful greenmarket, became the venue that pioneered the next level of sustainable behavior for a neighborhood and a city: food waste recycling. CLICK here for extra info and quiz.
NARRATOR: Christine Datz Romero is the Co-founder and Executive Director, Lower East Side Ecology Center who has shown her environmental activism by developing innovative, community based recycling programs over the last three decades. She is a true compost pioneer, inspiring people to compost in their own homes and communities as well as creating a Compost Collection program in 1990, which has introduced the idea of composting to countless New Yorkers. Christine has also been at the forefront of the Ecology Center’s innovative Electronics Waste Recycling program. A 2014 interview in biocycle.net elaborated on some of the themes you’ll hear in Datz Romero’s audio files below.
NARRATOR: Renee Crowley, Project Manager of the NYC Compost Project hosted by Lower East Side Ecology Center (LESEC), is a community planner with a passion for urban sustainability and social equity. She has been committed to reducing waste and building strong communities through composting for over a decade; her experiences run the gamut from backyard composting to participating in food scrap drop-off sites and managing the composting efforts at her local community garden.
Podcast I Renee Crowley – Location, Location, Location (4:12)
Renee Crowley, manager of the NYC Compost Project of the Lower East Side Ecology Center (LESEC), explains the significance of the food scrap collection depot at Union Square Park.
Podcast II Christine Datz-Romero – How to Begin Collecting Food Scraps in a City (5:20)
Christine welcomes you to Union Square Park and tells the story of how the organization set about doing something no one had done before—creating an organized food scrap collection system in New York City. Among the ideas they considered: circulating free buckets to each household. Over time, the efforts of the LESEC and its early affiliation with Union Square Park would have implications for sustainable waste collection in the city as a whole.
Podcast III Renee Crowley—Composting and Urban Planning (1:40)
Renee sees the task of composting as part urban planning, part waste management and part of the effort to make New York City a more sustainable place.
Podcast IV Christine Datz-Romero —”A Resource that can be used to beautify urban landscapes” (1:58)
Christine recorded this podcast outside the Lower East Side Ecology Center offices at the newly renovated Fireboat House. A combination of Canadian Geese and subway and truck traffic –sounds along the East River under the Williamsburg Bridge–provide the background as she reflects on sustainable practices in a city and on the link between composting and open space.