Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project – Revitalizing Parks, Gardens, Community and Public Spaces

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Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project – Revitalizing Parks, Gardens and Community and Public Spaces. Learn about the amazing public spaces and gardens transformed by the actress’s New York Restoration Project.

When Bette Midler moved to New York from Los Angeles in 1995, she was horrified by the litter strewn across the landscape. The singer and actress not only launched a one-woman pickup operation, but also founded the enormously successful New York Restoration Project (NYRP) to revitalize neglected green spaces. Just two decades later, NYRP has acquired 52 community gardens in underserved communities across the five boroughs and redesigned nearly half of them, enlisting residents in all phases of the work, from design to ongoing maintenance.

Working in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, NYRP staff, AmeriCorps members and countless corporate and community volunteers have planted hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers to support the restoration and maintenance of NYRP’s community gardens, as well as four New York City parks – resulting in the removal of nearly 133,000 bags of trash removed from the city’s green spaces. NYRP also continues to effectively engage New York City residents in the long-term stewardship of their open spaces, instilling in them – and generations to come – a desire to ensure that all the beautiful green gains made since our founding do not fall into new neglect.

In addition to gardens, NYRP has expanded its mission to include planting more than 840,000 trees in partnership with the city, with a goal of one million by 2015. The nonprofit also teamed up with Urban Air Foundation, TEN Arquitectos, and Buro Happold to design low-cost kits for modular casitas that can serve as sun- and rainproof gathering spots and also, by way of roof-mounted photovoltaic energy collectors, provide off-the-grid community nodes where neighbors can charge phones in the wake of a blackout. And, with support from the Thompson Family Foundation and innovative porous design by architectural firm Bade Stageberg Cox, NYRP will build a boat storage facility and an outdoor classroom and science cove along the Harlem River that will host environmental-education classes. Beginning this June, it will launch a green-space takeover of an entire neighborhood, revitalizing everything from its parks and schoolyards to street trees and median strips.

“We want to build stronger communities,” says NYRP executive director Deborah Marton, “and public open spaces are places where people can encounter each other in ways that can do that.” NYRP’s gardens, which range in size from 2,000 to 15,000 square feet, are the perfect low-stakes opportunity, she says. “It’s not the workplace; it’s just a place of beauty and pleasure. You go there to plant some stuff, grow some stuff, and get to know your neighbors.”

Source: Architectural Digest

New York Restoration Project

Learn more about outdoor fitness, health and revitalizing your community park, garden or open space at


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