Staying Afloat During COVID-19: Three Stories from the Brooklyn Waterfront

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The Brooklyn waterfront is blessed with many cultural institutions, but three of the most unique are led by three dynamic cultural entrepreneurs. The Brooklyn waterfront is richer because of Andrew Gustafson, Carolina Salguero, and David Sharps, who lead Turnstile Tours, PortSide NewYork, and the Waterfront Museum, respectively. Join the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center for a virtual Breakfast Talk with these entrepreneurs as they speak about how they have been navigating their institutions through the pandemic. After each explains their unique mission, they will tell us what they did to carry on during COVID, how they did it, and which of the changes they have made will be carried into post-pandemic Brooklyn.

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Documenting the Gowanus Canal Cleanup with Nathan Kensinger | Episode 188

In late 2020, as part of the long-overdue cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn, dredging of the toxic sediment began, and photographer, filmmaker, and writer Nathan Kensinger has been there to document it. For more than a decade, Nathan has been recording images and stories of New York City’s waterfront, with a special focus on the industrial landscapes, hidden ecosystems, and environmental challenges of coastal communities. In this conversation, Nathan will show some of his photography and film about the Gowanus and discuss the canal’s environmental history, the cleanup process, and the changing neighborhood around it.

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Winter Birding with the Brooklyn Bird Club | Episode 186

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While winter can seem like a slow time for birdwatching, many migratory species can be seen in New York only at this time of year. Join us for a discussion with experts from the Brooklyn Bird Club, where they will share some of the notable species currently found in the city, how to identify them, and tips for where to to find them. We will also have a birder joining us live from the field showing some of these spots in Prospect Park.

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Holiday Plants at Urban Garden Center | Episode 169

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Urban Garden Center has been a fixture of Spanish Harlem since the 1950’s, and today their beautiful shop occupies a massive two-block stretch along Park Avenue in the historic La Marqueta. We interviewed third-generation owner Dimitri Gatanas earlier this year to discuss spring plants, and now we’re back to discuss the plants that make the holiday season special. We’ll take a virtual tour of their seasonally-decorated space, learn about Christmas trees and other holiday plants (plus share tips on maintaining them), and discuss how this holiday season will be different from any other.

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Potatoes: Digging in the Dirt with Agronomist Bob Leiby | Virtual Program | Episode 154

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Potatoes are a staple of the American diet, and a lot of them grow within commuting distance of New York City. On this program, we will connect with Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where Bob Leiby, an agronomist for the Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers, joins us to discuss what goes into producing potatoes, the challenges of climate change, and new potato varieties and farming techniques under development to meet the challenges of today and the future. Bob Leiby spent his lifetime studying potatoes, raising his first crop as a 10-year-old 4-H member. He received his BS in Agronomy from Delaware Valley College and his Master’s from Penn State studying population dynamics of the Colorado Potato Beetle. He worked for Penn State Extension as a County Agricultural Agent for 36 years. At Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers, he continues to test new potato varieties and growing techniques, and he has also traveled to China and Kyrgyzstan to work on potato issues.

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Prospect Park Waterways | Free Virtual Program | Episode 152

Prospect Park Well House A one-story brick structure with windows and an ornamental portico painted in pastel colors and brown with trees in the background

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Join us for a virtual exploration of Prospect Park’s waterways. We will look closely at the ingenious drainage system and chain of manmade streams and ponds that terminate in Brooklyn’s largest lake, follow the park’s scenic watercourse, and go inside one of the most unique features of the park: the 1869 Wellhouse, the park’s last remaining building by park designer Calvert Vaux, which once housed the machinery that fueled the watercourse and was recently restored by the Prospect Park Alliance and converted into the first composting restrooms in a NYC park.

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Cycling for All New Yorkers: Adaptive Bicycles with Adapt Ability | Episode 141

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As New Yorkers are riding their bicycles more than ever, new Brooklyn-based nonprofit Adapt Ability is on a mission to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy cycling in the city’s parks and streets. During this virtual program, we will interview Sunset Park entrepreneur Sandra Alfonzo about her journey from being a bicycle shop owner to running a nonprofit that makes and rents adaptive bicycles to children and adults with disabilities. We’ll also go live to Michael Cairl (check out his blog On Foot, On Wheels) in Prospect Park to see the trike he uses from AdaptAbility in action and to hear about his experience transitioning to adaptive cycling.

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Climate Week: Tackling Climate Change in Prospect Park | Episode 140

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Celebrate Climate Week NYC and learn how climate change has affected Prospect Park and other natural areas in New York City and the projections for the future, including how Prospect Park Alliance and the Natural Areas Conservancy is using the best available science to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and preserve our urban forests. We will again be joined by Prospect Park Alliance forest ecologist Howard Goldstein and Natural Areas Conservancy’s Justin Bowers, program manager for Natural Areas Restoration and the creator of Forest Identification and Restoration Selection Tool (FIRST), which helps forest restoration practitioners manage for and adapt to geographic and climate conditions.

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Climate Week: Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Virtual Tour | Episode 137

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Like many cities around the world, New York City is facing the reality of climate change and its severe impacts on the urban environment. In Lower Manhattan, high tides with sea level rise are projected to flood multiple city blocks on regular basis in this generation. If we don’t take action, climate threats to this area will put our transit system, critical infrastructure and jobs serving all of New York City and the region at risk. On this virtual walk with the NYCEDC, we’ll explore how the City is taking action by investing over $500 million in climate adaptation projects to protect Lower Manhattan now, as well as planning for long-term climate adaptation to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The program will discuss Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency and the investments happening now, as well as the ongoing planning work to define the right type of infrastructure needed for the Financial District and Seaport neighborhoods and study the potential to extend the existing shoreline. Much work is still left to be done, and public engagement is critical to ensuring a successful plan to adapt these neighborhoods for current and future generations of New Yorkers.

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Planting for Pollinators and Native Plant Gardening | Episode 133

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Learn how Prospect Park restores and manages habitat for pollinator conservation, why invertebrates are so important to Brooklyn, how managers choose plants, why native plants are critical to pollinator survival, and how anyone with a little bit of space can plant a pollinator-friendly native garden. We will again be joined by Prospect Park Alliance forest ecologist Howard Goldstein.

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