Students celebrated a riot of new flowers outside their Fort Greene elementary school this week and advocated for more park space in their neighborhood in partnership with The Daffodil Project.
Councilmember Crystal Hudson joined students from PS 46 Edward C. Blum School and the New Yorkers 4 Parks advocacy group Monday morning to discuss the importance of well-funded parks and playgrounds, calling on the city to spend just 1% of its annual budget on the city’s parks department to create better green spaces for everyone.
Hudson’s District 35, which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, is made up of less than 10% of park land, leaving voters of all ages with limited options when they want to spend time outdoors. .
Last October, Hudson helped college students plant daffodils in partnership with the Daffodil Project, a 20-year-old initiative launched in memory of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, the council member returned to see the bright yellow flowers finally spring from the ground.
This morning I had the opportunity to speak with Evangeline, a local fifth grader, about what the city can do to improve Oracle Playground. Evangeline’s response?
—Crystal Hudson, Board Member (@CMCrystalHudson) April 11, 2022
“It’s such a complete moment,” Hudson said. “There aren’t many things and many opportunities to plant seeds and watch them grow, … and grow big and beautiful like these daffodils are today.”
The younger pupils remained restless until the end of the speeches when they were allowed into the schoolyard, seated in groups of four to paint rubber tires.
Evangeline Medrano, a fifth-grade student and student council president at PS 46, spoke out in favor of more room to play for herself and her classmates. Last month, Medrano published a opinion piece in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, asking for funding for his school’s playground.
She said students in painted tires at Monday’s event will be left outside “adding some color” to her school.
“The whole point of this was to show that everyone here is united,” Medrano said. “And a lot of people don’t believe that because of how different people look.”
The city’s lack of funding for the park’s development has had a “detrimental impact on the lives of New Yorkers,” according to NY4P executive director Adam Ganser. While parks popular with tourists are central to the city, Ganser said lesser-known parks are still essential for community members.
“Particularly [impacted are] New Yorkers who live in places that don’t have a lot of green space,” Ganser said. “And it’s usually the boroughs with a lot of communities of color and lower on the socio-economic scale, which is unfair and unfair.”
Organizers hope the Daffodil Project will continue to serve as both a living memorial and an active advocacy platform for communities. The 20-year tradition began the day after 9/11, when a Dutch daffodil bulb supplier donated one million bulbs to NY4P. Since then, the organization has distributed 8 million daffodil bulbs to volunteers, who plant the flowers in parks, schoolyards, and more. every fall.
NY4P has a long history of advocating for sufficient and equitable park space in New York City, publishing policy recommendations and stimulating community advocacy. Hudson’s visit to PS 46 was just one step in an ongoing campaign to secure more funding for city parks in this year’s budget cycle. More than 2,000 people have signed a online petition brought together by the organization calling on Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council to allocate funds to the Parks Department.
Civic engagement and collaboration for New Yorkers of all ages will continue to be a top priority moving forward, according to NY4P Director of Advocacy and Programs Sherrise Palomino.
“We continue to advocate and push for one percent of the city’s budget to be committed to the parks department so we can create a 21st century park system that New Yorkers deserve,” Palomino said.