Archives for posts with tag: volunteer

For one day, we brought the Gowanus Canal to the middle of Park Slope.  On Saturday, May 21, GCC held the second annual EXPO Gowanus, a free, outdoor event where 350 community members learned in depth about problems facing the Gowanus Canal and how everyone can help to improve water quality and access to waterfront public space.

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We were happy to see and talk to hundreds of Park Slope residents at EXPO Gowanus. The upland neighborhoods of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Prospect Heights all make up the Gowanus Watershed. Each year about 377 million gallons of polluted water end up in the Canal from street runoff and raw sewage from 120,000 Watershed residents when the combined sewer system overflows during rain storms. Pollutants from Combined Sewage Overflow (CSOs) hurt water quality and biodiversity and continue to be a nuisance to the neighborhood.

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At EXPO Gowanus, visitors learned in depth about why CSOs are a problem and the many ways we can all help reduce the volume of polluted water that enters the Canal every year.

Visitors of all ages flowed through 20 interactive stations and activities exploring the Gowanus Canal, Edge and Watershed.  Each station highlighted exciting projects that are underway by volunteers, designers, schools, organizations and public agencies.

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The newest generation of Gowanus student scientists reported on their investigations into Canal water and soil quality and proposed their ideas for a cleaner Canal and waterfront, which included impressive physical models of proposed green infrastructure and public space.

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Our bioswale volunteers-in-training explained how public dollars are being invested in NYC Green Infrastructure, including thousands of bioswales across the city that will mitigate sewage overflow in the Gowanus Canal and other polluted waterbodies.

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Visitors collaged waterfront designs for Gowanus Greenscape, an emerging master plan for parks and public spaces that will center on the Canal.

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Additionally GCC led volunteers from National Grid and neighbors who deployed across the adjacent Washington Park and weeded, mulched and re-planted several areas in need of stewardship.

Don’t miss next year’s EXPO!

2016 Exhibitors: ArtBuilt; ArtLab Gowanus; Balmori Associates; Climate Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP); Decades Out; dlandstudio; Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG); Gowanus Creek Scene Investigation (CSI); GrowNYC; the Open Sewer Atlas; NYC Parks; NYC City Councilmember Brad Lander Participatory Budgeting Committee; NYC Department of Sanitation; Parsons Architecture Department; POOP Project; thread collective; and local schools: PS 32; MS 51; MS 88; MS 839 and Brooklyn Urban Garden School (BUGS);. See the full EXPO program here.

EXPO Gowanus 2016 was developed in partnership with Old Stone House and MS 51 and sponsored by AECOM, National Grid and Con Edison.

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On May 19 6:30-8PM, our Living Things in an Urban Ecosystem series ended on a high note with Beyond the Honeybee: Exploring Critical Pollinators where we explored the role pollinators play in urban ecosystems and the ways in which individuals and community groups can support their habitats.

Ecologist Howard Ginsberg, Ph.D. from United States Geological Survey first presented a brief survey of native and non-native bee species typically found in NYC.  He found that our city has approximately 50 different species of bumble bees, compared to 100 found in more natural environments which is great news for our urban ecosystem. One fun fact is that bees tend to pollinate on specific seasons because they favor flowers in bloom during that time.  One example is Halictus ligatus, a communal or non-territorial summer bumblebee whose nests are typically found in holes in the ground and their workers are daughters of the queen, unlike honeybees whose workers are typically male.

Summer bee

Halictus ligatus – Summer bee

Our second panelist Tina Harrison, Ph.D. candidate from Rutger’s University Department of Ecology, presented some key ways to support our pollinators here in NYC.

Pesticides used in gardens

Chlorantranilliprole kills less worker bumble bees in a 2013 study

Gardeners and horticulturists should be mindful of the primary chemical used in the pesticide. For example, a study by Larson, Redmond and Potter showed that pesticides containing chlorantraniliprole kills only a small amount of worker bees, especially compared to clothianidin. So be sure to read those labels!

Effects of pesticides on bumble bee populations

Effects of pesticides on bumble bee populations

And finally, biologist Sam Droege, also from USGS, focused his presentation on the challenges of studying bumble bee populations.  He not only highlighted his work on cataloguing bee species (view the beautiful photography here), he spoke on the challenges scientists face when studying bees. One fascinating example was the attempt to study the Bombus bimaculatus, a bee species that, in natural settings, kicks out and takes over nests built by chickadee birds.  After scientists recreated these nests to attract this bee species, they were unable to replicate this occurrence in a controlled setting. Clearly there is more to be studied on attractive bee habitats, which, once successful, would lead to more effective methods of attracting and keeping them within our city.

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We then segued into the panel discussion, moderated by landscape architect Hans Hesselein, where we were truly able to unpack the issue of bee colony collapse (which actually does not effect bumblebees), action steps we can take to support their survival, and the potential for future on bee habitats studies .  Listen here for the entire discussion.

We at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy send our heartfelt thanks to our venue sponsor Threes Brewing for generously offering their event space, our panelists, volunteer coordinators and most of all our audience for being part of such a vibrant season.  Stay tuned for the fall schedule!

Join us on our next Clean & Green July 18 11AM-3PM by signing up at volunteer@gowanuscanalconservancy.org where volunteers will participate in the Tree Census and other stewardship activities.

Follow us on Twitter at @GowanusGreen and on Instagram @gowanuscanalconservancy for GCC news, volunteer events and trivia.

Native and Not Panel pic

Left to right – Katerli Bounds, Uli Lorimer, Kristy King, Leila Mougoui Bakhtiari

 

On April 28 6:30-8PM, we had our third panel discussion on Native and Not: NYC’s Dynamic Flora as part of our spring theme Living Things in an Urban Environment, where panelists from NYC Parks and Brooklyn Botanic Garden discussed the state of native flora, invasive species management and what we as a community can do to increase floral biodiversity.

Uli Lorimer, Curator of Native Flora from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, brought us beautiful photos alongside sobering news about the declining trend of urban flora in our region.

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Native Flora – Arethusa bulbosa

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NY Metropolitan Flora Project Native Flora Survey Results

 

Kristy King, Director of Forest Restoration of NYC Parks, revealed the surprising number of urban forests, salt marshes and other natural landscapes in NYC while revealing NYC Parks goals for forest restoration.

NYC Parks Goals for Forest Restoration

NYC Parks Goals for Forest Restoration

NYC's Surprising Amount of  Natural Areas

NYC’s Surprising Amount of Natural Areas

 

And Katerli Bounds, Director of Stewardship of NYC Parks, presented us with fantastic ways the NYC community can get involved in stewardship activities through both NYC Parks and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy.  A great upcoming project being TreesCount! 2015 where NYC Parks enlists the help of the NYC community to map and catalogue every tree in NYC.

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Trees Count! 2015

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Stewardship Opportunities in Forestry, Salt Marshes, Fresh Water Wetland and Bioswales

 

Then Leila Mougoui Bakhtiari, our very own volunteer coordinator of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s Urban Forestry program moderated the discussion, bringing up fascinating questions such as:

At what point is a plant species considered to be invasive?

Can invasive species be used to our benefit?

And what are everyones thoughts on the controversial book Wild Urban Plants by Peter Del Tredici?

To listen to the entire panel discussion click here for our audio player.

The evening ended with the quote “if you build it, they will come”, a great segue into our next panel where we delve into urban pollinators. Join us on May 19 6:30-8PM at Threes Brewing for Beyond the Honeybee: Exploring Critical Pollinators where we expand our idea of pollinators, why they are particularly important in an urban setting and action steps the NYC community can take to support their survival.  We will be joined by Sam Droege, head of the bee inventory and monitoring program at the US Geological Survey (click here to see his beautiful bee species photographs), Howard Ginsberg, entomologist for USGS who studies the impact of invertebrates on natural systems and Tina Harrison, Ph.D. candidate for ecology at Rutgers University who is studying the impact on bee genetic diversity in disturbed sites compared to undisturbed sites. Click here to RSVP.

Follow us on Twitter at @GowanusGreen and on Instagram @gowanuscanalconservancy for GCC news, volunteer events and trivia.

On March 24 6:30PM we kicked off the second lecture of our 4-part Urban Ecology Lecture Series series where we continue to unpack the theme Living Things in an Urban Environment, with our first panel discussion, Oysters: Limits and Possibilities.

Our panelists included, Chester Zarnoch, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Baruch College presented his current research on the potential effects of oyster reef restoration on nitrogen cycling, an overabundant nutrient that impacts water quality, and its implications on our waterway systems.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y.

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y.

Marit Larson, Director of Wetland and Riparian Restoration of NYC Parks, spoke on salt marsh and shoreline restoration projects where she highlighted, the Oyster Reef Restoration Program , a partnership with NY-NJ Baykeepers to install oyster reefs and stocks as an oyster larvae attachment source.

Director of Wetland and Riparian Restoration at NYC Parks

Director of Wetland and Riparian Restoration at NYC Parks

Pete Malinowski, Director of the Billion Oyster Project, presented the mission of Billion Oyster Project, their partnership with the New York Harbor School, and the impact made not only on water quality but on the hundreds of thousands of student volunteers who otherwise would not have been exposed to our waterways, potential career opportunities and most of all the ecology of New York Harbor.

Director of Billion Oyster Project

Director of Billion Oyster Project

The panel discussion, moderated by Gena Wirth, our very own GCC Volunteer Coordinator and landscape designer, urban planner and horticulturalist at SCAPE Landscape Architecture.

Landscape architect, horticulturist and volunteer coordinator of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy

Moderator for the Oyster: Limits and Possibilities panel discussion

By opening the discussion on how the history of oysters in NYC influenced the panelists, each touched on the pride of being a native or transplant New Yorker, the desire to reach its ecological potential and the need to create healthier spaces for our community, a theme carried throughout the entire evening. Click here to listen.

It was a dynamic, thought-provoking evening, beers and all and we could not have done it without our venue sponsor Threes Brewing who generously provides their event space for our lectures.

If you are now all fired up about all things ecology and want to put your passion into action, here is a list of resources to help you get started as a volunteer:

www.gowanuscanalconservancy.org

www.billionoysterproject.org

www.nycgovparks.org/opportunities/volunteer

Continue the conversation and join us on:

April 28, 6:30-8PM for Native and Not: NYC’s Dynamic Flora, a conversation moderated by Leila Mougoui Bakhtiari of NYC Parks. We will unravel native and invasive urban plants, stewardship practices, and their ecological implications.

May 18, 6:30-8PM for Beyond the Honeybee: Exploring Critical Pollinators, a conversation moderated by Hans Hesselein of Apiary Studio.  We will discover the critical role insects play in urban ecology and the ways we can support their survival.

Follow us on Twitter at @GowanusGreen and on Instagram @gowanuscanalconservancy for GCC news, volunteer events and trivia.

May 17 marked the installation of our Wildflower Corridor on 9th Street! After a long, humid and wet week in Brooklyn, the sun came out on Saturday accompanied by a light breeze — perfect weather for a volunteer day. Not only were the 24 wildflower planters installed, but volunteers also participated in tree stewardship activities along 8th and 9th Street and Milo’s Garden in Carroll Park.

You can download a plant care guide with names and pictures of the wildflowers used in the corridor here. (PDF, 2.4 MB)

You can also download a map of the wildflower corridor here. (PDF, 241 KB)

Executive Director Hans Hesselein explains the work day to volunteers.

Executive Director Hans Hesselein explains the work day to volunteers.

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American Legion Post 1636 graciously allowed us to set up our home base next to their building on 193 9th Street. The central location of the post also made for a great place to treat our volunteers to a grilling session after the work day.

Volunteers eat some burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill after a long day of work.

Volunteers eat some burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill after a long day of work.

Installed and watered!

Installed and watered!

Over a hundred volunteers and volunteer coordinators participated not only in the installation, but the design and fabrication of the Wildflower Corridor project since it was first proposed in February. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this project from its conception through its realization.

Special thanks to our organizers:
Andrea Parker, GCC Board
Sarah Snow, GCC Staff
Alexandria Donati, GCC Volunteer Coordinator
Zenobia Meckley, Future Green Studio
Cecil Howell, Future Green Studio
David Seiter, Future Green Studio
Marielle Anzelone, NYC Wildflower Week

We would also like to thank our sponsors for the support and materials they provided and donated:

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Restoring the environment in a post-industrial landscape involves finding ways to attract animals and insects to the neighborhood. In other words, real estate for the birds and the bees. While ground for new residential complexes on the Canal, we’ve been busy with smaller residential complexes of our own: Introducing the Wildflower Corridor!

A row of planters.

A row of Wildflower planters.

The Wildflower Corridor project aims to install wildflowers down 9th Street from 2nd Avenue to Prospect Park. May 17 will see the installation of 24 planters between 2nd and 5th Avenue. The plants were adopted by residents and businesses who are volunteering their services to keep the plants alive and healthy.

The Salt Lot has been really busy lately.

The Salt Lot has been really busy lately.

During April’s Clean & Greens on the 12th, 13th and 27th, volunteers put together the 24 wildflower planters with the help of Future Green Studio. Plants and materials were donated by The Home Depot, North Creek Nurseries, Greenbelt Native Plant Center, Quadrozzi Enterprises, Build it Green!NYC, and Scout + Gather.

Assembly line!

Assembly line!

Volunteers install cladding on a planter.

Volunteers install cladding on a planter.

The wildflowers will hang out and grow in our nursery until May 17.

The wildflowers will hang out at the Salt Lot nursery until May 17.

The planters are looking great, and we can’t wait to finally install them in a few weeks. We’ll even be celebrating after the event with a block party on 8th Street! We hope to see everyone there. Save the date – May 17!

If you’re interested in signing up for a Clean & Green event, our schedule for 2014 is posted up on our website.
As always, check our events page for more goings on at the Conservancy!

[Photos by Jason Diaz]

Thanks again to the Wildflower Corridor’s fantastic sponsors for helping us make this project a reality:

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The Conservancy celebrated this year’s Earth Day (April 22) with National Grid! 40 employee volunteers spent a few hours composting, caring for street trees along 2nd Avenue, and stewarding the guerrilla garden by the new Whole Foods Market on 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue.

Let these photos tell the rest of the story!

The Salt Lot underwent a little decorating to set a stage for the morning's speeches.

The Salt Lot underwent a little decorating to set a stage for the morning’s speeches.

L-R: Conservancy Executive Director Hans Hesselein, D39 Councilmember Brad Lander, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Conservancy Board Chairman Andy Simons, National Grid President Rudy Wynter

L-R: Conservancy Executive Director Hans Hesselein, D39 Councilmember Brad Lander, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Conservancy Board Chairman Andy Simons, National Grid President Rudy Wynter

Clockwise from upper-left: Director Hesselein, President Wynter, Congresswoman Velasquez and Councilmember Lander  delivered opening speeches introducing the Canal, praising the two organizations' 6 year partnership, lauding the volunteers for their service, and emphasizing the push for more environmental education.

Clockwise from upper-left: Director Hesselein, President Wynter, Congresswoman Velasquez and Councilmember Lander delivered opening speeches introducing the Canal, praising the two organizations’ 6 year partnership, lauding the volunteers for their service, and emphasizing the push for increaesd environmental education.

National Grid employee volunteers were briefed on safety before breaking out into groups.

National Grid employee volunteers were briefed on safety before breaking out into groups.

Director of Education Programs Christine Petro assists a volunteer by the soil and compost sifting area.

Director of Education Programs Christine Petro assists a volunteer by the soil and compost sifting area.

Mr. Wynter lending a hand in turning the compost windrow.

Mr. Wynter lending a hand in turning the compost windrow.

Shoveling compost for the nursery and windrow.

Gathering compost to be distributed to tree beds and the 3rd Street Garden.

Sifting out fine soil and compost for use in our wildflower planters!

Sifting out fine soil and compost for use in our wildflower planters!

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Adding compost to tree beds to treat the soil and cultivate tree growth for the new spring season.

Adding compost to tree beds to treat the soil and cultivate tree growth for the new spring season.

Smile, everyone!

Smile, everyone!

Photos by Jason Diaz.

Want to see pictures from this event and more? Check out our Flickr, follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook!

New York City’s 2014 began with a great snowstorm. The Conservancy’s 2014, however, began under a warm winter sun that welcomed volunteers, members and staff back to the Salt Lot for the first time since December 22’s Composting Gowanus event. The warmth presided over what became a productive day of service centered around the collection and mulching of discarded Christmas trees around the watershed – Mulchfest!

With the assistance of our sponsors Arborpolitan and Urban Arborists, volunteers collected 460 trees and turned it into mulch. Meanwhile, our younger volunteers worked to sift .5 cubic yards of compost, while our tree stewards pruned 4 street trees and returned 100 lbs of pruned material back to the Salt Lot.

After the majority of our 26 volunteers assisted in turning our November and December windrows, the newly harvested mulch was spread around the compost area and on top of our windrows. Volunteers left the Salt Lot not with the all-too familiar smell of compost, but with the fresh piney smell of Christmas morning in their noses.

On this sunny day, hundreds of discarded trees helped breathe back life into the Salt Lot after the snowstorm that delayed Mulchfest for one week. January 12 was the perfect day  to beautify the Salt Lot just before the chilling polar vortex and its snowstorms descended upon Gowanus for the rest of the month.

Arborpolitan unloads the trees they collected.

Volunteer Committee Compost Co-Chair John Craver and Director of Education Programs Christine Petro biked around the neighborhood collecting trees!

John diligently binding the trees together so they don’t roll off the wagons.

Volunteers loaded up collected trees onto Urban Arborists’ truck…

…where they were ferried to the far end of the Salt Lot to be turned into mulch.

The fresh mulch was brought back to the main work area, where it was spread over the deep, muddy puddles formed after the snowstorm that kicked off the year.

Busy at work!

Volunteer Markley Boyer walks across the freshly placed green mulch.

Interested in volunteering at the Salt Lot before Clean & Green kicks off in March? E-mail volunteer@gowanuscanalconservancy.org and ask for opportunities such as weekly windrow turns!

50 Volunteers came out to the Salt Lot this Sunday to help the Conservancy create our monthly windrow. Along with creating our compost windrow, volunteers did some much needed garden stewardship in our 2nd Avenue Garden. It was also the first prototyping day for our Floating Gardens Designers. The Conservancy gives a big thanks to everyone who came and spent their morning with us!

Composting
Volunteers from the Kabbalah Centre helped us incorporate over 8,000 pounds of food scraps from GrowNYC Greenmarket collections. They were fantastic volunteers and we loved how fully they embraced the idea of promoting life in the watershed through the repurposing of food-scraps. It was a pleasure to host them and we thank them for working hard and staying enthusiastic through the midday drizzle of rain. We hope you can come back and volunteer with us again!

Volunteer Coordinator Christine explaining the science of compost:Untitled Browns, like sawdust and wood chips, are important to add between the layers of food scraps.20130728_113746 Volunteers working hard to even out the food scraps as it gets larger!20130728_130138 While the windrow was being built, we also had other volunteers sifting our finished compost. Sifted compost can be used for other projects like our tree and garden stewardship and for sealing our freshly-built windrow.

20130728_111019 After two weeks, the compost pile will host much beneficial bacteria that will generate heat and  break down the food-scraps. The windrow will then be turned weekly, for 5 weeks, then left to cure (or cool down) until it is ready to be sifted! We are constantly in need of compost windrow turners–you’ll use pitchforks and “turn” the pile systematically, to promote an aerobic environment and food-scrap decomposition. For more information on turning, contact info@gowanuscanalconservancy.org. For more information on composting workshops, other project sites, composting at home, and/or how to be a Master Composter, visit the NYC Compost Project’s website. For opportunities to build a compost windrow with the Conservancy, visit our website!

Tree Mapping
Tree mappers Judy and Talia completed some loose ends in our Tree Mapping Project. Stay tuned for more updates!

Garden Stewardship
We collected about 120 pounds of weeds from our 2nd Avenue Garden. Regular maintenance removes unwanted species and improves the garden’s ability to prevent erosion, absorb water, and preserves native plants.

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Floating Garden Prototyping
This year, we have 6 designers for Floating Gardens. Designs range from a bamboo structure that will serve as a seaweed habitat to a concrete “rock garden”. It was a largely experimental day, with all the designers testing different materials and methods for creating their prototypes. They all discovered new ways to refine their floating garden constructions and by the end of the day, we even launched a prototype!

Designers at work:20130728_124615
FG Designer Sarah learning about another prototype20130728_125804
Our Landscape Architect Summer Intern Jin weaving bamboo: 20130728_114946
Here are some photos of the first prototype launch! This design serves as both a plant and “stick garden”.

Designers Christine and Sarah getting ready to take it to the waterfront:UntitledUntitled And now, it’s in the Canal!Untitled
And after a few hours, everyone was able to enjoy some great grilled food, thanks to Whole Foods!

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For more images from the day, check out our Flickr!

Thanks to the Kabbalah Centre and everyone else who came to ¡Composting Gowanus! We hope to see you soon!

Over 60 volunteers joined us this weekend for our monthly volunteer day; we had guests from all over the city, tri-state area, and even from Massachusetts! This Clean & Green was especially exciting for the Conservancy as we hosted a special event: a community mural installation! In addition to the mural, volunteers also helped the Conservancy do some tree stewardship and tree mapping.

A big thanks goes out to Tonci Antunovic for his amazing photos (on our Flickr and on this blog post)! Though the day was packed with a lot of activities, it was a huge success due to the time and effort given by volunteer groups from NYCares, Whole Foods, and everyone else who spent their Saturday with us!

Tree Stewardship and Mapping
With our volunteers, we were able to clean and weed 15 trees, mulch 8 tree beds, and pull about 260 pounds of weeds and unwanted species. This goes a long way in helping keep our trees healthy!

Our Mapping Stewards finished up the southwest and southeast portions of the Forestry Study Area. We are currently 95% finished mapping, thanks to the hard work of all of our tree mappers! Look out for more details regarding when the TreeKIT map will be online for public viewing.

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Mural Installation
The Conservancy installed a mural depicting fruits and vegetables along Huntington Street.  It was designed by a volunteer artist, Ruth Hofheimer, and is meant to be a humorous contrast to its location within such an industrial neighborhood and alongside the Canal. A big thanks goes out to Build It Green!NYC for donating 20 gallons of exterior primer, Home Depot for contributing brushes, rollers, trays and 10 gallons of exterior paint, and to all those who made financial contributions to the project.  Here are some photos taken throughout the day:IMG_4630IMG_4828IMG_4821 (1)IMG_4735IMG_4723 (1)IMG_4739
And a shot of the finished product! 20130727_155149
There are plenty of pictures, so please check them out on our Flickr!
Also, don’t forget to take a look at these awesome articles about the mural from NY1 and The Brooklyn Paper!

After a long summer day, there’s nothing better than a good grill sesh, with food graciously given to us by Whole Foods. Thanks again to everyone who came on Saturday and we hope to see you at our next Clean & Green in August!