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Growing within this concrete jungle is an oasis of community, escape, and nature. See how New York Restoration Project is giving life back to the city's dense urban spaces. Sponsored by REI #optoutside

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- We're not the only living things on this earth. - Everyone is constantly moving, constantly going. - We kind of have our blinders on. - What they call the concrete jungle. - And it overwhelms people. - This city is intense. - Parks and green spaces-- - Show people that-- - We get to utilize the EarthCorps. - One with nature. - Even though you may hear planes flying overhead. - It creates communities. - It's a way to escape the chaos that the city is. - [Sara] Today we're gonna do some restoration work near the shore line, and as we start picking up stuff, checking on one another, and see if we're ready to kind of move on to another section. - [Annel] Ideally, pie in the sky is that when you hear of in New York City, you think green. You know, where you see a building, you see green. Where you see a bike path, you see grass, but it's no longer, we're no longer isolated to these little patches where parks used to be, but that we're really integrated into the city, and that every New Yorker is fighting for their community to be cleaner. We're the Big Apple, with a massive tree right behind it. My name is Annel Cabrera-Marus, and I'm the Senior Director of Engagement and Programming for the New York Restoration Project. - New York Restoration Project was founded by Bette Midler to clean up neglected parks. She was driving past parks on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and just saw the profound neglect, and literally pulled over her car, got out, and started picking up garbage, started working with the parks department to identify parks that were in need of care, under-resourced but had tremendous potential. I think Sherman Creek, Swindler Cove have shown that dense, urban spaces can be filled with life. To me, it suggests a more personal relationship with caring for the land, and this is one of the largest leveling complexes in Manhattan. Urban stewardship don't always go together, but when you have a personal relationship with caring for the public space, a green space in the city, you think about the land holistically, and do what you need to do to take care of it. From MRP's founding, we've been working with AmeriCorps, and the program's central to our mission and our culture. - My name is Sara. - Tess. - Edward. - Tilia. - Environmental Educator. ♪ I know when I'm here I need some space ♪ - [Jason] That kind of engagement with young people is critical to spreading the word for what we do. - I think that spaces like this really bring people together. - It's a perfect spot right in the heart of the city that feels like it's not. - [Catarina] Since I've been living in New York City, nature and the outdoors have taken a completely different meaning in my life. When you're in the city-- you're not really connecting with the earth. Whoever conserved land to create parks had a lot of foresight as to what people need. I'm Catarina Rivera. I'm a Community Organizer. - How are you? - Hi there, baby. - [Catarina] Swindler Cove is in East Inwood, and today, it's a beautiful park. In the last decade, it wasn't a place people would come and gather and spend time at. It's absolutely amazing to see it today be a park with a community garden, so there's always kind of a lot of surprise and excitement to find that there's a green space that's so beautiful over here tucked away in this corner. - This is the best place in Inwood. Yes it is, I'm so proud. Mamey. - [Catarina] Being in a city with a lot of immigrants, and in a neighborhood especially that has a lot of people who had access to land in their home country. There's such a change when you move to New York City, so I've had people come into the garden and feel that sense of home again. The garden in Swindler Cove can be a space that connects people to the land that they feel they may have lost, and also seeing it for the young people how exciting it can be. - [Annel] It's about letting those kids actually feel, and see and explore places that oftentimes they only see in books. They get to see that there's so much beyond this concrete jungle. - [Woman] Does everybody see the tomatoes that are hiding in the garden bed? - [Annel] That there is so much nature, that they can enjoy, and it's here for them. It's not just about the restoration, but it's about bringing community in and showing them that they're a part of this world, and they're a part of nature. - [Tess] Well, the outdoors to me, I guess it's being, well, not in silence, but in this kind of unique silence where you're in your own thoughts, and you're kind of surrounded by natural things. You're surrounded by fresh air. You're surrounded by bugs. You're surrounded by yourself. They get to understand that they're a part of this bigger thing that is in their backyard. - I mean, big picture, cities are growing, and so when we start to get stressed about all of the problems and demands of the world, it's important to have a sense of possibility. - [Catarina] I'm excited about the sense of possibility about what we can achieve together. - [Annel] When you get back in nature, it is a really good fit. It makes all these other things possible.