For each of our Brooklyn Waterfront, Past & Present Tours, our guides will be joined by different guest speakers who have worked in some capacity along the New York City waterfront, sharing their perspectives on topics ranging from industry and manufacturing to resiliency planning to marine ecology. For our tour on Saturday, August 15, our guest will be Emily Manley, managing editor of the New York Environment Report. If you can’t make that tour, her NYER colleague Sarah Crean will be joining the tours on September 19 and October 10 (see a complete list of guest speakers).
Launched just over one year ago, NYER is an independent, non-profit news organization that covers environmental issues affecting New York City and State. By covering a wide range of topics like food systems, energy, government policy, public services, and the natural wonders of our region, NYER connects environmental issues to the every day lives of New Yorkers.
On this weekend’s tour, we will be heading south from Brooklyn Bridge Park, exploring the waterways of Red Hook, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, where Emily will discuss here reporting on lead contamination of the Red Hook Ball Fields, the ongoing cleanup (and pollution) of the Gowanus Canal, and efforts to protect the region’s unique marine ecosystems. We asked Emily a few questions about how and why she became an environmental reporter.
How did you get involved with NYER?
Emily Manley: My friend Jeff Tancil (the publisher of NYER) approached me with the idea when it was still in its nascent stage, and it just ticked all the boxes for a project that I wanted to be part of. How could I say no to such an exciting opportunity?
What were you doing before environmental reporting?
EM: After college, I spent four years working in the communications department for The Nature Conservancy (right here in New York City). My background is in biology and environmental science, but TNC is where I really learned about the importance of connecting people to the vital (but not always accessible) work that scientists and policy makers are doing.
After that, I worked with a start-up nonprofit in Charlottesville, VA that helps family farmers access new markets for their food: schools, hospitals, grocers, and other institutions.
Why is an outlet like NYER important?
EM: I truly believe that the health of our environment and how we deal with the effects of climate change will be defining issues for our generation. And I know I’m not the only one out there that thinks that way.
But these are heavy, complicated issues that aren’t always given the attention and space they deserve. There’s no single, dedicated source of environmental news for NYC and New York State … but there should be.
So that’s our goal —raise the profile of environmental issues and be the trusted news source, but make the stories accessible, interesting, and not so darn depressing…at least when we can help it.
What has been the impact of / response to NYER since you launched?
EM: Amazing! We have a great network of dedicated, smart readers and it’s growing all the time. It’s been very inspiring to see that, yes, people do care about the environment! And yes, they will read something longer than a Buzzfeed listicle! We’ve also had a great response from members of City Council and other state agencies, too.
What have you been working on lately, and what are some stories we might see in the near future?
EM: There’s always something fascinating in the works: the plastic bag ban (not dead yet!), fish counts in the Hudson River, surfing in the Rockaways, solar energy in NYC and New York State are just a few that come to mind.
Also, we’re always taking suggestions – we want to know more about local environmental issues in your neighborhood. Shoot us an email if you have ideas, and we are always looking for story leads and new writers: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can people follow and support NYER?
Turnstile Tours is offering the Brooklyn Waterfront, Past & Present Tour in partnership with Classic Harbor Line every Saturday at 11am, August 8–October 10. These tours depart from Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5 and will offer a unique perspective on this historical and contemporary changes taking place along Brooklyn’s shoreline. Advance ticket purchase is recommended. Turnstile offers several tours that highlight New York’s waterfront, past and present, including weekly tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal.