Soil Contamination and Remediation

Join Lisa Bloodgood, Director of Horticulture and Stewardship at North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, to learn about legacy toxins in New York City – and to unpack what it means for the soil to be contaminated by these toxins. How does the health of soil and parks, much like air quality, serve as an indicator to how well the city is addressing the ongoing legacies of environmental injustices and environmental racism?

Discussion and questions are enthusiastically encouraged – bring questions along with you! Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Join Nando Rodriguez, one of the co-creators of the Hot Box Composting system, to learn about how this innovative method for urban composting came to be – and how his 30+ years of experience in environmental education continues to connect youth in Harlem to the soil hands-on. With a focus in restorative justice, Nando is working to take local composting to another level of community support and push local representatives to deepen participation in NYC.

Discussion and questions are enthusiastically encouraged – bring questions along with you! Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Nando Rodriguez was born and raised in the Lower East Side and the Dominican Republic. Raised in a single-parent household, his mother raised 6 children (older sisters helped with the little ones) and he was the youngest. His mother’s reasoning to send him away for a portion of his life was her fear of Nando following in the footsteps of his elder brothers, who were caught between the street life of Alphabet City. Nando spent 5 years in Bonao, D.R. He always felt the need to help others, especially his peers who were less fortunate, and in D.R. he would create spaces for his peers to play games, often inviting youth from other communities to join.

Nando eventually returned to NYC and enrolled in East Side Community High School. It was there that he was introduced to Open Road of NY, as well as The Brotherhood Sister Sol. With Open Road of NY, Nando started to connect his purpose on Earth with Mother Earth and began to assist Open Road with the development of the HotBox. Nando also worked on green space designing with participants of these selected communities using the Participatory Designed process and developing or redesigning green spaces for community engagement.

With The Brotherhood Sister Sol, Nando continues to empower youth to become leaders in their communities. Through love, support, resources and guidance, The Brotherhood Sister Sol team is able to create a Rites of Passage experience for all youth to question what’s not clear to them and speak up when they feel their voice is not being heard.

Instagram: @HotBox.Composting

Join Sashti Balasundaram, a social entrepreneur, innovator, and educator. He founded WeRadiate LLC, an AgTech company that develops smart sensors that digitally track data variables such as compost temperature and humidity. This technology makes it easier for operators to ensure healthy, high-quality standards. Sashti has vast knowledge in community composting; he was a teacher of the NYC Master Composter program, co-founded a community garden in Brooklyn, worked at the Lower East Side Ecology Center in NYC, and the Mayor’s Office in the City of Buffalo. We will dig deep into the importance and process of monitoring soil health, how compost can improve soil quality, and explore policy and opportunities for actionable change.

Discussion and questions are enthusiastically encouraged – bring questions along with you! Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Website: WeRadiate 
Instagram: @WeRadiateNY  
Linked-In: WeRadiate


Come celebrate Earth Day in Riverside Park! Dr. Robin Lovell, Ph.D. will be leading an interactive lecture exploring the ways that gender and identity intersect with food justice.

This casual event enthusiastically encourages participation and discussion amongst attendees – come with questions! Light snacks and refreshments are provided.

Robin Lovell, Ph.D. is a Professor of Geography in the Sociology Department at Manhattan College. His US-based research explores sustainable agriculture in the Hudson River Valley of New York. His research outside the US examines gender in agroecosystems of the Vietnamese Mekong River Delta. Dr. Lovell also has remote sensing and geography projects in the US and abroad, and a new project exploring how gender, climate change, and armed conflict interact. He is a dedicated teacher and researcher in the  food system and looks forward to sharing how we can all get involved in making NYC a more sustainable place.

Linked-In: Robin Lovell 
Twitter: @DrRobinJLovell 
Instagram: @dr.robin.lovell 

January 13, 2023

The Mayor’s Office of the City of New York has released its preliminary 2024 budget, which includes $62.3 million in funding for the restoration of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Plaza in Riverside Park.

This huge milestone comes after years of advocacy from Riverside Park Conservancy, elected officials and the public. Among the project’s most active champions has been Council Member Gale Brewer, who launched a petition to save the monument last year that garnered thousands of signatures.

Located at 89th Street and Riverside Drive, the 20,000-square-foot, white marble monument commemorates the 370,000 servicemembers from New York who fought on behalf of the Union in the Civil War. A 2017 survey commissioned by the NYC Parks Department found the structure to be in a near-catastrophic state of decay and identified an urgent need to stabilize the surrounding hillside, embankments, and ceremonial plaza comprising nearly two acres of Riverside Park.

A unique piece of history and one of only five monuments in the New York City Parks System with landmark status, the proposed restoration project has significant support from numerous City officials including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, and Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi.

“Investing in the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is deeply meaningful to New Yorkers, and we are thrilled that Mayor Adams has made this commitment to its full restoration,” said Merritt Birnbaum, President & CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy. “As both a place of remembrance and an homage to those who continue to serve our country, the memorial is not just a piece of history, it is a unique contributor to the active life and character of our Park – and a treasure for our entire City.”

Work started on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Plaza in 1900, and the structure was completed and unveiled to the public in 1902. Then-president Theodore Roosevelt officiated at the dedication ceremony. With an enduring message that continues to resonate today, during the ceremony, orator General Albert Shaw commented that it was not a “memorial of conquest, but signifies the Nation’s appreciation of the victors who saved it in the supreme crisis of fate.”

“This is a historic moment for this historic monument, which was last restored in 1962, and has fallen into grave disrepair in the decades since,” said Micah Lasher, Chair of Riverside Park Conservancy’s Board of Trustees. “The countless New Yorkers for whom the Soldiers and Sailors Monument has been a place to remember, recreate, and repose are incredibly grateful to Mayor Adams, Commissioner Donoghue, and their teams for recognizing the need so quickly upon taking office and acting on it.”

“We are grateful to the City and its leadership for preserving this monument completed more than 120 years ago to memorialize the Union soldiers and sailors who bravely served in the Civil War,” said USN Commander Peter Galasinao (ret), President of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Association of Riverside Park Conservancy. “Over the decades, this community has expanded to memorialize all men and women who have served our country and who have paid with their lives. We will never forget their and their families’ sacrifice. It is befitting that this monument stands to help us carry on the tradition and to remember those no longer with us.”

Read more from the Mayor’s Office here.

About Riverside Park Conservancy
From 59th Street to 181st Street, from riverfront to city-side, Riverside Park Conservancy cares for and enhances six miles of parkland for present and future generations. Working together with the New York City Parks Department, we make improvements as diverse as the park itself and the city it serves.