Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park : June to September 2017

Roosevelt Island Day, June 17, 2017 at Roosevelt Island, NYC

The Native Americans called Roosevelt Island, Minnehanonck, meaning ‘It’s nice to be on the island’. Once infamous for its prisons and asylums, the two-mile-long island in New York City’s East River, located between Manhattan Island and the borough of Queens on Long Island has slowly emerged as a home to high-rise residential buildings. Right in the middle of the town, on an L-shaped plot just south of 504 Main Street, there lies a beautiful patch of green — the Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park, an ecological artwork created by Bonnie Ora Sherk, her non-profit organization Life Frames, Inc., and community members that engages the local schools and adults; educating them about gardening, ecology, multi-arts, literacy, nutrition, and local history through hands-on, standards-based Common Core learning programs.

Bonnie Ora Sherk with a group of enthusiastic kids and their parents on Roosevelt Island Day, June 17, 2017 at Roosevelt Island, NYC

Bonnie Ora Sherk came to Roosevelt Island in 2001, and the Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park emerged after a community planning process funded by the Ford Foundation, which supported developing a Master Plan for Roosevelt Island with the community.  After some planning meetings people said:  We don’t want to just plan.  Let’s do something that shows immediate results.  So, at the invitation of the then Principal of the  Roosevelt Island School (P.S./I.S.217), Bonnie and Principal, Sherry Gregory were determinated to develop a positive, creative, and life-affirming environment for the children, youth, and adults of Roosevelt Island, after the brutality and trauma of 9/11. Later funded by the RIOC Public Purpose Fund, the first RI Living Library Garden & Think Park witnessed a long history of involvement; students participating during the school day and after school as part of the Beacon Program,;patients visiting from the Coler-Goldwater Hospital, and enthusiastic parents participating in various activities around the Garden. A Community Master Plan for Southpoint was also developed in those early years.

On their way to RI Living Library & Think Park; Roosevelt Island Day, June 17, 2017 at Roosevelt Island, NYC

When the school was under construction for many years, beginning in 2011, RIOC offered another location for the RI Living Library Gardens – behind 504 Main Street, adjacent to the building where the new RI Library will be moving when its renovations are completed in 2020. This new site is more accessible to the whole community and is also wheelchair accessible, so the Gardens are often visited by many from the large RI disabled community, including members from the Senior and Disabled Associations.   The late, Virginia Granato, former President of RI Disabled Association was a frequent visitor to the Gardens to pick up bunches of her favorite herbs. Every summer, the RI Living Library & Think Park shares its produce, mainly herbs and vegetables, with the participating Beacon children and their parents, seniors and disabled residents.

Bonnie Ora Sherk instructing the group before planting; Roosevelt Island Day, June 17, 2017 on Roosevelt Island, NYC

The RI Living Library & Think Park has emerged as a powerful green center and learning landscape for the whole community. Accessible daily throughout the week, the quiet ambience of the Living Library Gardens have been instrumental in bringing together children and their parents, school groups, families, seniors, and disabled residents of the community, thereby successfully Cultivating The Human & Ecological Garden. Currently, the RI Living Library & Think Park has been working with many children year-around, encouraging them to exercise their science and art skills in the Gardens, while introducing them to science and other subjects. Regarding the project’s future plans, Bonnie Ora hopes to plant an Orchard, reflecting RI’s history of orchards, and develop International Gardens in conjunction with the diverse community of RI and the Library.

Kids planting the trees in RI Living Library & Think Park on Roosevelt Island Day, June 17, 2017 at Roosevelt Island, NYC

Shown below are some pictures from Roosevelt Island Day in June, 2017 and pictures of the Living Library & Think Park Gardens in September, 2017.

Facebook : Roosevelt Island Living Library Planting 2017, NYC, RI Day

Volunteers planting trees in RI Living Library & Think Park on Roosevelt Island Day, June 17, 2017

 

Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park

 

Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park

 

Roosevelt Island

 

Roosevelt Island

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