Monday, October 4, 2021

Sustainable Urbanism, Stories and the War on the Trees #SaveEastRiverPark


JK at the mud ball!!! Pic by Dee Dee

Kappo Brennan and Friends. Pic by Kevin Dann
The Mudball was an ideal place for a book reading. 

@randolfewicker holding court, telling stories about fighting to desegregate Austin in 1958 and Mattachine and Sylvia and Marsha P Johnson and the SexFreedom league and on and on and on. We love you Randy!!! Thank you for your activism and memories and fights against the prudes and sex negative ideology and your sense of joy and fun throughout it all.

"Our body, our choice," they screamed, marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. 

I was riding along the new Brooklyn Bridge bike path on my way to the meeting over East River Park. 

Everyone was meeting, the anarchists met at La Plaza Cultural.

The public space protectors met at De Colores Community Yard and Garden on 8th. 

And the storytellers  at the Mud Ball for the "culmination of the village plaza, a wide open spacious  Plaza Efimera.  A bustling village center that also creates beneficial succession of air, water, soil, and selves" at El Jardin Paraiso, 10 E 5th Street."

It had been a weird week, with fixtures moving, shifting. 

Earlier in the week, Greg and Caroline and I chatted on the stoop, before he made his way out of the neighborhood. 

A good neighbor for almost a decade, change constant.

from questions about knowing to feeling, 

Wondering where we can play, where can we dream?

Can we transform senses into thoughts?

How are we going to be?

Its not what you did, its what you do with what you did.

Rupture and repeat. 
Lets beyond the eternal return.

Lets figure it out together.

Can we play through it, to figure it out?

People have a lot on their chests. 

So we told stories, all afternoon at El Jardin. 

Friends from Extinction Rebellion, the battles over Governor's Island, so many challenges. 

We spent the week thinking about East River Park and the war on the trees, extending from East River Park to Governor's Island to Elizabeth Street Garden. 

So many changes...

but can the city sustain it?

Giselle, from Cameroon, told us about the ingredients in the Shock Thermal:

Heat, water, dirt, and air... ever evolving, along with mother nature. 

When you have dimensions, five senses multiplying, extending outward, all part of a poem, 

for the Shockamal for the Earth, a rainbow of colors in the tomato's, a new shock ra.

More and more of us showed up. 

"The respectable folks, where they dwell?" asked Kevin, reciting the words from Henry David Thoreau.

"They answer in the oaks,

They sigh in the oaks. 

Summer and winter, night and day,

Out on the meadow, there dwell they.

They never die....

And so their good cheer never ends,

For all are their debtors, all are their friends."

What are they, asked Kevin.

I've recited the poem, up and down the Island of Manhattan, biking from here to there. 

No one really knows.

They are on boats, on the ocean, along the shore, in the forests, the nature beings. 

I followed, telling stories about pills and childhood, wondering what is fantasy, and what is real. 

What is synthetic and what will endure?

Do we take the red pills or the blue?

Welcome to the desert of the real.

The city wants to bulldoze the gardens, pull the trees out from the ground, and pave it all with concrete. 

Yet, here we stand in a green space on 5th street, within this concrete jungle, a space where stories flow.  Yet, threats are coming from all sides. A war on trees is only increasing.  

Marie stood up to talk about the Myth of Gilgamesh.

"The dream was marvelous, but the terror was great."

Fast forward to 2021 and the city is planning to bulldoze the East River Park. 

Allow trees to grow. 

Don't cut the trees.

 Humbaba was a guardian of the forest, protecting it from the invasion.

My heart is with the forests, says JK, who locked herself to a tree on Tuesday, compelling the city to protect the trees. Twenty years ago, we fought to save Esperanza.  We battled pipelines. Then came the fight for East River Park. 

I was locked so close; I was almost with the tree. 

Aresh wanted us to do the action together.  Then he told me he wasn't going to do the action. 

It was sooo uncomfortable. 

And then it started to rain. 

All day, we kept calling Corey Johnson's office, asking for an oversite hearing, asking what was going to happen to the trees.

Wendy went on about what was at stake.

If the new city plan happens, we lose the esplanade.

The East River Park is a source for migration, for birds coming in from Mexico to the Arctic. 

If you kill the trees, you kill the nesting site for the birds. 

We lose the esplanade.

We lose the composting. 

We lose the trees, making the city hotter and dirtier, less susceptible to rain. 

Increasingly, we recognize cities need more trees, not less, more green infrastructure, not less, more green space and less concrete.  Its an idea that has caught the administration's eye. 

The City of Cleveland has called for supporting 30% canopy coverage, recognizing reforestation helps us fight climate change. 

But not this city.

   Instead of the biodiversity plan mapped out by rebuild by design, they city plans to bulldoze the trees and raise a sea wall. 

Allow the open space to be a sponge.

Instead the city wants to pour more concrete. 

We want Corey Johnson to allow these questions to be aired.

IDA taught us about four inches of rain. 

All afternoon we talked.

Why do you care about the park, asked one journalist.

Do you jog there?

Isn't there more to consciousness than that?

Anne read from "Feathered Garden."

"To make a refuge for a bird and its merry wings

a moment of repose, a pause in phrasing light

in sun that dapples swimming leaves

ombre globes of red and green

do delight these eyes in flight

to sit a sec and take a bit of respite

some sugar lumps of sate, third slaked,

and so it sings some news that's good

come one, come all, to relax and chat,

in our neighborhood

And Dee Dee talked about beneficial succession.

From microbes to metropolis, toward betterment,

toward an empathic world, a collaborative world, 

against a competitive world... 

Better the supply chain.

How can we leave a better trace?

Can we protect us from ourselves, wonders Lynn Margulis.

We kept on talking. 

Into the evening, we chatted. 

At Judson we talked about a world of flux. 

And I walked down to Christopher Street to the path train, which hurled me under the river, Eastward toward Hoboken, where Randy resides. 

Posters of Sylvia and Marsha greeted me. 

And Randy told me about Sylvia and Marsha and his struggles for a more sustainable world, where women have a right to choose and we respect biodiversity in bodies and minds and a realm of genders. 

And Tim told me about his adventures, driving from Athens to NYC to see the B52's, piece of his life story, one afternoon at a time. 

And Brennan read poems from his new collection, #Blessed=Death... we like our poets, he explained. 

JK told us about Spain and Ann talked about canopy coverage. 

And the struggle for sustainable urbanism swirled about us, dueling forces between those who hope to pave paradise and those who see another city.  

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