Thursday, July 1, 2010

this is awesome

In the last couple years I have met a fantastic woman named Jaqueline, who until just recently worked at the Museum of the City of New York in their education department. Jaqueline coordinated a program called Neighborhood Explorers, a group of bright, self motivating high school students who wanted to learn more about their neighborhood, city, and the world around them. The students meet after school with Jaqueline and other educators through the winter and into the spring, learning everything from urban planning to gardening. In addition to weekly classes and projects part of the Explorers program every year is to take a local space, study it, and help to transform and improve it. Some time last winter Jaqueline asked me if I would teach a class for her and introduce the kids to plants and horticulture. Thinking back to a program that had a huge impact on my life as a junior in high school (thank you Mountain School of Milton Academy!), I was honored and excited to see if I could connect with these kids and pass on the green bug. We set a date for some time in April and after work one Wednesday I walked into Jaqueline's class for my own two-hour session. Even though I have taught plenty of horticultural classes the over two dozen teens instantly had me very nervous. But in no time I was getting to know these young men and women and they were curious to know about me and how I came to do what I do in this gritty city. The time flew by as we walked and talked, about horticulture, about life and careers, about goals and how to achieve them. These kids were so impressive with their questions, curiosity, and creativity. Months later I was invited to the museum to the Neighborhood Explorers graduation and celebration. For the finale of their ceremony they made a killer video documentary of the 2009/2010 program. This is it. Such a great concept and program, such a great group of coordinators, educators and kids. Not to mention so refreshing to find youth that is not painfully obese and troubled and introverted like so many pour souls I see on the streets today. Active and driven and articulate, I'm still just so impressed by these 27 engaging individuals. It's about 13 minutes, and very uplifting. Enjoy.

The Museum of the City of New York’s Neighborhood Explorers 2009/2010 from Museum of the City of New York on Vimeo.

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