Reclaimed Lands Conference_Day One

Registration Eligibility
Preference to Parks employees rsvp:
Start Date
End Date
Creative reuses of disturbed lands are critical in the quest to add ecological functions to our urban regions. In brownfield and former landfill sites, a return to the original state of the land is not possible and so alternative restoration strategies are used to return function to the landscape. Furthermore, within our rapidly changing ecology, the original state may no longer be the ideal from an ecological perspective.

Freshkills Park in Staten Island, NY, the site of what was the world’s largest landfill, is a prime example of a site where a return to the original ecological state is not possible, but the ability to add ecological functions beyond stabilizing is feasible. The needs of our collective environments necessitate new strategies that consider disturbed urban landscapes, such as landfills and brownfields, as sites for ecological reclamation that not only stabilize the disturbed landscape but also add ecological functions to the region, for humans and wildlife. Whether transforming degraded infrastructure into productive wildlife habitat, re-defining what a public park looks like, or adapting these lands for urban farming, it is clear that we must continue to examine the opportunities in our reclaimed lands from multiple perspectives and disciplines.

This four-day conference brings together researchers, practitioners, planners, ecologists, artists, landscape architects and other designers, as well as community groups, and students to bridge the gaps between disciplines and productively explore the issues and initiatives surrounding these reclaimed lands, such as monitoring changes in biodiversity, designing ecologically sustainable re-development, engaging residents in stewardship, transforming public perceptions, and inspiring future projects.

Day One. Morning Session
Reclaimed lands often suffer from a perception problem. It can be hard to shake the labels of damaged, wasteland, dump, or destroyed, and many prefer to leave these disturbed landscapes out of sight and out of mind. How do we go about changing minds? What compelling experience and evidence do we have? Specific discussion points;
1. Witnessing the beauty of the changing ecosystem.
2. Seeing what’s possible: A sense of pride for area residents.
3. Hurdles: regulatory, generational.

Afternoon Session and Field Trip
In recent years, new iterations of green space have emerged throughout New York City. Developed on disused infrastructure, sites like Brooklyn Bridge Park and Freshkills Park occupy a dichotomous space in the public landscape. They are intersections of ecological ruination and subsequent restoration; products of industrial negligence and resultant models for community activism and stewardship. The unique landscape, history, and mandate of these parks challenge us as practitioners to foster/facilitate lasting community bonds with natural urban spaces.

Using the sense of place framework as a lens, this panel will examine the impact of education, public programming and stewardship on the reclamation of and care for urban green spaces. In conversation, four key questions will be addressed:

• How is the way we currently teach/facilitate programs shaped by our sites’ histories in mobilizing for stewardship and sense of place?
• How might these histories, coupled with continued community engagement, impact future approaches?
• How can environmental education and public programming be leveraged to foster enduring environmental stewardship among urban populations?
• What do current educational stewardship models look like?
New York, NY
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Parks & Recreation
Remediation / Brownfields
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
- Participants will learn to develop interdisciplinary models for research on reclaimed lands sites.
- Participants will learn cross-disciplinary approaches to their work on reclaimed lands towards comprehensive problem solving.
- Participants will learn new strategies that are being used in reclaimed lands ecological restoration and re-development.
- Field trips to formerly disturbed sites will allow participants to learn from direct observation the results of the approaches and methods of transforming degraded infrastructure into.
Mitchell J. Silver, Cait Field, Denise Hoffman-Brandt, Lindsay Campbell, others
Website Registration
Course Codes
NYCParks and REC
NYC Parks & Recreation Department

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