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Contribute Your Memories of Greenpoint’s Natural Environment in Upcoming Library Project

Monsignor McGolrick Park / Winthrop Park in 1934 (NYC Municipal Archives)

May 10, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Residents will have a chance to participate in a project organized by the Greenpoint Library that aims to capture the environmental history of north Brooklyn.

The Greenpoint Oral History and Community Scanning Project, the name of the initiative, aims to document and preserve the neighborhood’s environmental history through voice recordings and by scanning a range of personal items brought in by residents.

“Because we’re going to have a new library, we thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to create a project where we really tell the environmental story of the neighborhood,” said Acacia Thompson, the library’s Outreach Archivist.

Thompson said Greenpoint’s environmental history, ranging from the longstanding industrial factories along Newtown Creek, the massive Greenpoint oil spill, and even an Asian long-horned beetle invasion in the ’90s, lends itself to such a project.

“It’s really to document and preserve that memory,” she said.

The library will hold six events throughout the neighborhood beginning in late June, where residents can bring items to be photographed or scanned ranging from flyers, photos, and other personal ephemera that can document the relationship between environment and self.

Residents can also sit and have an interview with a library staff member on a particular memory relating to the neighborhood’s natural environment.

The upcoming Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center rendering by Marble Fairbanks

While the standout portions of Greenpoint’s environmental history relate to disasters and their ongoing effects on the neighborhood’s health and quality of life, the project is certainly not limited to that.

“We also want to make sure we show the other side to that,” Thompson said. She listed old photos of children playing in the park or an outdoor music event of the past as examples of what can be brought in.

The project’s first event will be on June 23 from 10 a.m. to midday at Bushwick Inlet Park at 86 Kent Ave., and includes a lecture on the Asian Longhorn Beetle invasion of 1996 that resulted in the neighborhood losing 650 trees. Attendees are invited to bring anything having to do with the infestation, and can also sit down for an interview with Thompson.

The next oral history and scanning event will take place in September, with its time and location to be determined. The remaining four events are also yet to be scheduled.

All of the oral histories and scanned items will be digitized and available online at the conclusion of the project, Thompson said. The library, however, is still determining how to physically display the project at the new library, scheduled to open late 2018.

The project is funded through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, and is part of a $49,428 grant towards the environmental education center that will be situated in the new library.

For more information on events or to schedule an oral history interview, contact Acacia Thompson, Outreach Archivist, at 718-230-2069 or email [email protected]

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