Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Day at SSBx

City Semester’s day started out in Nature with Mr. Waldman, where we had an interesting conversation about sustainability and resources. We had all researched a particular research on, and some had a chance to present to the class. After science, we walked outside to the rock to await our bus to Sustainable South Bronx. Unfortunately, it was nowhere in sight, and we had to wait for about 20 minutes. However, after a late start, the day went smoothly. We arrived at SSBx at 10, and were welcomed warmly by Nina and Miranda.
            We had been wondering why exactly tree guards were needed, and that was the first thing they addressed. Miranda explained that it wasn’t just to prevent trucks from hitting the trees; people often throw trash, walk on the soil, and train their dogs on the trees, causing the bark to get scratched off and the tree to die. Tree guards will protect the trees, and the signage we make will help make the neighborhood understand the importance of the trees. We also discussed the idea of community involvement and ownership of the project. Upon urging from Rachel, Danny read a paragraph that he, AJ, Jacob, and Kate wrote, describing the project and our goals. After our brief discussion, we left SSBx to take a walk around Hunts Point and find locations for tree guards.
            It was cold and rainy, but we braved the weather and walked through a community park near SSBx. There, we saw examples of tree guards and litter surrounding many trees.
Photo credit to Tashi

We split up into three groups to evaluate nearby blocks and their need for tree guards. My group went to Costner Street. It was a residential, low-traffic street with 39 trees. Many had well-maintained iron tree guards, but were still littered on. The group came to a consensus that it was not a priority to build tree guards on Costner Street, since the neighborhood seemed to be able to maintain the trees fairly well on its own. We returned to SSBx for lunch and met up with the other groups, who had gone to Bryant Street and Menida Street, to compare notes. Jeremy and Jacob H. reported on Costner Street. Ruby reported that Menida Street was close to a school, but its trees were mostly full grown and did not need protection, and Erika told us that Bryant Street had young trees which were getting damaged, and was near the school we want to work with. In a nearly unanimous vote, we decided to make building tree guards on Bryant Street a priority.
            Next, we discussed what kind of signage to put on the trees. We decided to use the laser cutter that SSBx has in their Fab Lab, and make stencils for neighborhood children to paint in. Finally, we arranged for our upcoming visit on March 14th, and chose group members to communicate with SSBx. We said goodbye to Miranda and Nina, and boarded the bus for Fieldston.
            We arrived with seconds to spare before H Band, and many of us sprinted for math. In math, we watched an interesting movie about natural resource consumption, which was very relevant to our discussions in Nature about sustainability. After math, a few members of City Semester (including me) went to rehearsal for Cabaret, and the rest went to English to discuss our new book Netherland. All in all, it was an great day in City Semester.  

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