gathering around the boathouse

On Saturday I hung out with a great group of people! I had soooo much fun!! I joined Green Shores NYC, the L.I.C. Boathouse, Riverkeepers, and the Friends of Gantry at the local East River shoreline in Long Island City in the Gantry State Park for the 2014 Riverkeeper Sweep.

It’s a quick commute for me on the 7 train so I arrive early and enjoy my homemade granola bar and coffee on the benches by the waterfront enjoying the view of Manhattan that I LOVE so much. The forecast had predicted rain but the clouds seem to be clearing and the sun is peeking through the leftover clouds. The L.I.C. Flea is already in full swing with music, food vendors cooking, and booths set up. It’s a great place to try different food, enjoy the waterfront in Queens, and buy some antiques or homemade items.

RiverKeeper_logoI had volunteered with Green Shores NYC a few years ago at a waterfront clean-up in Astoria Park. This not-for-profit organization is run by volunteers only and maintains the eight miles of the Astoria-Long Island City Waterfront from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay. If you want to get involved with a local organization to participate in community clean-ups or other projects along the waterfront in Queens – THIS IS IT! 

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I am pictured above with Katie Ellman, President and Director of Green Shores NYC at the beginning of the volunteer event and, as you can see I am wearing my “Fight Like A Girl” t-shirt today!

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 We started off the day helping the volunteers from New York Cares and the Friends of Gantry to remove excess mulch off the plants in the garden. Apparently the city used too much of the mulch in this area in the garden beds and it is suffocating the plants and trees.

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As we are working in the garden removing the excess mulch we are also picking up small bits of litter which consist mostly of cigarette butts, food wrappers or small plastic pieces which can blow into the river and kill fish and birds. I’ve noticed a lot of dog walkers and smokers stopping in this park and they should be aware of the damage that pollution can cause. I really wish the city would install cigarette butt receptacles, do not pollute signs or more trash cans in this area. The signs don’t look nice but litter does NOT look nice either.

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After a short break, Martha and I move over to the L.I.C. Boathouse dock to check if there is litter for us to pick up. We notice that this area is full of broken glass (pictured above) because the old double paned windows on the building next to the dock are breaking. There is also some trash stuck to the fence which is blowing over from the L.I.C Flea. Once again, I just think that people should be aware of the dangers of litter when they are eating by the waterfront. I’m hoping that anyone who saw us that day cleaning up will take a moment to think about it.

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We managed to fill only 1 large garbage of trash through-out the day which is a good thing. It is nice to see that this park is relatively clean and well maintained. Most of the litter was scattered on the street under cars and stuck to the fencing.

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After the event we hung out by the Long Island Community Boathouse, which offers FREE kayaking or canoeing! What more can you ask for! If you want to explore the area by water or try a fun summer water sport then I highly recommend kayaking with the L.I.C. Boathouse! The boathouse is run by volunteers also so if you are looking for a FUN place to volunteer you could check this out also!

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The view of the river is spectacular at any time. It was a great day to be outdoors enjoying it. It was my first time meeting everyone from the L.I.C Boathouse and being inside their facility.

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After the event, we got beers from the Rockaway Brewing Company next door. And you know I LOVE anyways Rockaways and this brewery was originated in the backyard of a bungalow in Far Rockaway! They brew the beer in the back and sell it in a small room in the front. A friendly staff, good locally brewed beer, and free potato chips – what a deal!

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Like I said before, I had a fun day. Excuse my lack of writing skills but what else can I say. There are moments such as this at a volunteer event where you feel like you are a part of something bigger than what you had signed up for. You meet local community groups with great people who are passionate about similar interests as you. You are sitting in the boathouse with a group of people drinking a beer laughing, talking and enjoying a summer afternoon like you are old friends. You skip home with a smile on your face. Like I said before, what more can you ask for.

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planting beach grass at far rockaway

When I leave the apartment the sidewalk is wet from the early morning rain. The sky is now clear and the sun is peaking out from behind a cloud. I am hoping it turns out to be good weather today! I am on my way out to the Rockaways to plant beach grass on the dunes of Beach 180- 115 with the New York City Parks Department.

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The bus stops right in front of Surfside Bagels – the cheese and spinach topped bagel is 4000 calories and delicious and the coffee will give you a jolt to  last the entire day! I wanted to stop here first to get coffee – of course, and then walk to Beach 108 to meet up with the City Parks Department and the other volunteers.

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There are some luxury condos for rent here on the Rockaway Beach – I wish I could rent one for the summer! Anyone who pays the rent can join me!

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The staff for the City Parks Department are really friendly, organized, and ready to get the volunteers working right away. We are armed with one little shovel and beach grass. We are instructed to dig a small hole and plop in two shoots and fill in. It’s simple, easy, and everyone seems eager to start.

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There are a lot of big groups of volunteers so the process goes quickly and soon we have a huge area covered in grass. The beach grass is said to take root and start growing within the month.

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 After event I decide to walk back down to Beach 86th to relax and eat my lunch. The sun has been creeping out slowly all morning and by mid afternoon I’m in my tank top and applying sunscreen. It’s a great opportunity to relax on the beach. As you can see (below) there is a lot of construction along the way. The Rockaway Beach Restoration project has been an ongoing effort since Hurricane Sandy hit the coast and a lot of work has to be done. If you want to read more information about the restoration project please click here.

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I notice that Beach 106 rest area is almost complete. They are installing the cement pathway to the pavilion and new New York City recycling bins have arrived! Thankfully these bins have a cover. There are several trash bins on the beach here at the Rockaways but they are open on the top for birds to dig in and high winds cause litter to fly around on the beach.

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I love going to the beach during this time of year. It’s a peaceful place to unwind. I love watching the surfers and paddle boaters in the water. A few weeks ago I a cute surfer had stopped to chat with me- too bad I can’t find HIM again! :) That was the first time I thought a wet suit was sexy.

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As I was sitting there relaxing I set my phone to record five minutes of the ocean, just to have a reminder to carry with me every day. Some days I could use the sound of the ocean in my headphones from the place I love the most during my chaotic commute on the subway.

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one thing that’s green

Today I am attending the 7th Annual “One Thing That’s Green” event hosted by JetBlue Airlines and New York Restoration Project and its MillionTreesNYC initiative! This is a BIG event and I am happy to participate! 

I’ve been eager to volunteer with MillionTreesNYC. It is a citywide program with one HUGE ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s all five boroughs over the next decade. They plant trees. Trees are good. 

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It’s early Saturday morning, the sun is shining – it’s supposed to be 65 deg today! I walk over to 48th Street and jump on the Q104 bus for a quick ten minute ride to the Woodside Houses, where the event is taking place. I read that 250 volunteers have signed up today to plant 100 trees in the neighborhood during this event.

I arrive at the event by 9 am. I get a wrist band, a raffle ticket, and a free JetBlue t-shirt. I wonder over to the breakfast brunch table set up with bagels and coffee from Panera Bread. There is COFFEE!!!! :) I LOVE when volunteer events supply us with coffee! I spend some time chatting with JetBlue crew members that are volunteering today. They all seem really happy to have an opportunity to give back to their community.

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I meet Susan, the Program Manager for the NYC Compost Project (see picture below). The NYC Compost Project was created by the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling, which provides compost education and outreach to NYC residents, community groups, government agencies, and nonprofits. I think that every volunteer event should have a compost and/or recycling bin on premises to constantly remind us to do the right thing. Susan gives me information on how to find compost bins around NYC and we chat for a while. If you see Susan at any event say HELLO and don’t forget to THANK her for all her hard work!

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After breakfast, a radio DJ announces that we are having a fitness workout by a celebrity trainer…I make it through the first part of the workout that involves stretching and squats. When he started doing push ups I quickly ran off pretending I needed more coffee.

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We break off into groups organized by colored flags and our wrist bands and walk over to different areas of the neighborhood. I decide to plant the big trees on the sidewalks and after a quick demonstration we move over to our first tree planting! Digging the first hole is easy until we reach a root left behind from a tree that was removed last year. We have to break out the saw and pick ax and put some sweat and muscle into removing it.

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Our first tree is in the ground – success! :)

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We move on to a grassy area to plant another tree. The time goes by really quickly. After our second tree we are ushered back to our meeting grounds for lunch and a raffle.

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It was a great volunteer event! I was really glad I had a chance to volunteer with NYRP once again and MillionTreesNYC for the first time. I’m always happy to see big companies such as JetBlue using their resources to sponsor volunteer events that make a difference. And, as always, volunteers make it all come together!

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sign up for “one thing that’s green” day

I just signed up for the seventh annual One Thing That’s Green on Saturday, April 19th in Highland Park hosted by JetBlue Airlines and New York Restoration Project and its MillionTreesNYC initiative! This tree-planting event is estimated to plant over 100 trees with the help of more than 250 volunteers in the garden space in New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Woodside Houses in Woodside, Queens! That is great! I can’t wait to be a part of this event. 

If you haven’t participated in a volunteer event this year then sign up! I will be there! I love big sponsored volunteer events. We get FREE t-shirts, training, and fun activities through-out the day. Usually breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided to volunteers as well. It’s a fun day to get out and meet new people, gain experience, and make a positive difference in the community you live in.

See you there! :)

 

 

at far rockaway beach….again

It’s supposed to be 71 deg today so I have decided to pack my beach bag and go to Far Rockaway Beach! My plan to do my laundry on a Saturday morning was not as FUN as going to the beach! :)

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I can hear the waves crashing on shore from across the street and I’m eager to get onto the sand. I take off my shoes and the sand is hot on the bottom of my feet – which feels amazing! It’s quiet out here today – just a few dog walkers and surfers again.

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I spend a few hours combing the beach looking for seashells and picking litter, stopping to watch dogs happily splashing in the ocean fetching sticks and the surfers braving the freezing water to catch a wave.

I had a few beach goers approach me today asking me what I was doing and appreciating my efforts. A dog walker ran up to me with his hands full of trash to put into the bags, eager to help. A surfer stopped to chat and thank me for cleaning up. One lady said “We all have to do our part in keeping this beach clean, I think it’s amazing that you are here today picking litter. Thank you so much for doing that.” YOU ARE WELCOME! I was so HAPPY that people noticed what I was doing and talked to me about it.

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DANGER: There may be litter on the beach that your child or dog will step on and get hurt! Please take your trash with you when you leave the beach. Thank you! :)

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I filled 9 small shopping bags with litter from the beach in two hours. I found some really large pieces of styrofoam and metal that have blown in from the construction sites.

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I wandered past Beach 90 where the boardwalk is under construction and closed off to the public. The sand is accessible and that is where I found most of the litter. I couldn’t fit all of it in my bags and there was no garbage cans for me to dispose of what I found so I had to carry all the bags back to the nearest trash bin.

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A list of SOME items I found on the beach today:

12 cigarette butts
38 plastic bags/plastic film pieces
25 plastic bottle caps
9 pieces of cloth
4 large styrofoam pieces
1 construction Danger sign
3 balloons
3 cig lighters
9 random obects
8 pieces rope/cord
1 black styrofoam piece
17 bags of chips/snacks
3 snickers bars wrapper
1 blue plastic kids sand shovel
3 large corona beer glass bottles
3 beer cans
2 tampons
7 piles of doggie poop
1 glove
10 random plastic pieces
and the list goes on…

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The bright pink balloon I found on the beach this morning – and my birthday is coming up in a few days! Is that a coincidence??

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I’m not sure why these mountain bikers are taking their bikes on the break wall rocks but I’m curious if they are doing some extreme rock jumping. Also hoping nobody gets hurt!

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If you want more motivation to get out and make a difference I found this great video last night on the Daily Ocean blog. Sara Bayles has done 365 beach cleanups in her local area with a mission to inspire others all around the world to care about our oceans and their beaches. And she is quite an INSPIRATION to me! Read all about it!

Thank you for reading my blog post. If you have any questions or comments write em down! I’d love to hear from you!

in need of beach therapy

It’s 42° out and I am taking the bus to Far Rockaway for some “beach therapy” this morning. I’ve spent the last few weeks at home lying on the couch recovering from surgery. The most excitement I’ve had is walking six … Continue reading

raking leaves in astoria park

Brrrr! It is a cold November morning but I am eager to get to Astoria Park to volunteer with New York Cares and the Astoria Park Alliance. Astoria Park is 59.96-acres city park that runs along the East River in Queens that has many beautiful trees which means ALOT of leaves to rake in the Fall!

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The Astoria Park Alliance is a GREAT organization that was started in 2007 to create a bridge between the community surrounding Astoria Park and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Volunteers and supporters assist in keeping the park maintained and clean and bring awareness to the community. They hold many fun events such as Leaf Fest and the NY Cupcake Run to encourage people to become more involved in Astoria Park and the community.
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Even though the weather was chilly that morning, a large group of volunteers arrived and within a few hours we filled over 100 bags of leaves! And it was nice to hear that most of the black garbage bags we used to fill with leaves are re-used from previous volunteer events in the park.

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Build It Green! NYC is a nonprofit that takes in salvaged material such as doors, windows, and wood from construction sights, supplier, and other sources to stop these items from going in the landfill. Most of these items are sold in their warehouse and some are donated. This is a GREAT idea! Reuse! Recycle! AND Build It Green! NYC has a program called BIG!Compost that works very hard to increase the participation and acceptance of composting. They supplied a truck and driver on Saturday to come pick up all the leaves we raked to compost at their facility. This compost will later on be used as mulch for city parks.

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It had been a really stressful week for me so it was great to get outdoors and enjoy being outside in my favorite park and participate in a fun volunteer event! :) HAPPY!

a polluted parking lot

On my way to the grocery story I walk past a parking lot that is really polluted. I found out last week that this parking lot belongs to a used car dealership called Major World. Their main entrance is on 43-40 Northern Boulevard in  Long Island City and appears to be very clean and organized. But, the back parking lot is full of litter and debris such as empty oil cans and soda bottles.

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The image below is taken at the back parking lot. Unfortunately, this parking lot fits over 3000 used cars so the amount of pollution is astounding.

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The image below is the parking lot on the side on 37th Avenue. I am not sure who is responsible for the sidewalk or grassy area but it is overgrown and full of trash. A large shopping center and Stop n Shop grocery story is directly across the street and hundreds of people walk through this every every single day. Has nobody seriously complained about this before?

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a day at far rockaway beach

On Sunday morning a friend and I packed our beach bags and traveled out to Far Rockaway for the day. After a few days of rain we were relieved to see the sun shining and were hoping to enjoy a day at the beach. I love going to the beach and since the Atlantic Ocean is a quick subway ride away I spend a lot of time here in the summer.

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Upon arrival in Far Rockaway from the A train stop we did notice the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still very evident in this area. The boardwalk is still under heavy construction and some of the beach is not accessible. Some of the bathrooms and concession stands are still being repaired.

I did read in one article that the beach repair has been quite complex and costing $270 million. Almost 430,000 tons of debris had to be removed after the hurricane damage before construction could begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed four and a half million cubic yards of new sand on the beach. Hundreds of independent contractors were hired to work day and night, and the Parks Department had to hire 1,000 extra employees and used 8,000 volunteers. The entire project has been non-stop for less than 5 months which is a record time.

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I noticed a few new signage on the beach designed by a Graphic Design Studio in Manhattan called Pentagram that clearly marks the beach areas and some have warnings about dangerous ocean tides. I read that 35 lifeguard stations have been built and extra lifeguards were out on full watch. I did get a chance to talk to Park Security as well which I had never seen at the beach before. They have been out since the beach reopened to monitor conditions and the safety of the beach-goers.

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Even though we arrived early the beach was getting crowded and it was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves on this beach once again.

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Afterwards, we decided to search for a place to eat and unfortunately had to walk a few blocks on Rockaway Beach Boulevard before we found an open establishment. Most of businesses are still boarded up, damaged and empty. The narrow streets were lined with construction equipment making it hard for cars to drive through.

Our search brought us to the famous taco stand and it was great to see business was flourishing with a hour long wait for delicious tacos so we opted to walk back down to Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria. We ordered a chicken parmigiana which was large enough for both of us to share and it was worth raving about the entire ride home! It was the best marinara sauce I’ve ever had! We had a moment to talk to the Co-Owner, Frank Amato and our waitress about their struggle to rebuild the restaurant after Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately they are still waiting for relief aid and had to take a huge financial risk to reopen their business by maxing out credit cards and loans. I think the entire community is glad they reopened because we heard that Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria has the best pizza in town! We were treated like family from the moment we walked in the door and we wish them all the best and we will visit next time we go to the beach!