Students celebrated a riot of new blooms in front of 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 at PS 46 Edward C. Blum School and advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks on Monday morning to discuss the importance of well-funded parks and playgrounds, calling for the city to dedicate just one percent of its annual budget to the city’s Parks Department to create better green spaces for all.
Hudson’s District 35, which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, is made up of less than 10 percent of park land, leaving constituents of all ages with limited options when they want to spend time outdoors.
Back in October, Hudson helped students plant daffodils in partnership with the Daffodil Project, a 20-year initiative started to remember victims of the 9/11 attacks. on Monday, the council member returned to see the bright yellow flowers finally springing from the dirt.
This morning, I had the opportunity to speak with Evangeline, a local fifth grade student, about what the City can do to improve Oracle Playground. Evangeline’s answer?
— Council Member Crystal Hudson (@CMCrystalHudson) April 11, 2022
“This is such a full circle moment,” Hudson said. “There are not many things and many opportunities you get to plant seeds, and watch them grow, … and become big and beautiful like these daffodils are today.”
Younger students stood fidgeting until speeches finished when they were allowed to enter the school yard, sitting in groups of four to paint rubber tires.
Fifth grader and Student Council President of PS 46 Evangeline Medrano stepped up to speak out in favor of more space to play for she and her fellow students. Last month, Medrano published an opinion article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, asking for funding for her school’s playground.
She said tires students painted at Monday’s event will be left outside “adding a little bit of color” to her school.
“The whole point of this was to show that everyone here is united,” Medrano said. “And lots of people don’t believe that because of how different people look.”
Lack of city funding for park development has had a “detrimental impact on the lives of New Yorkers,” according to Adam Ganser, Executive Director of NY4P. While parks popular with tourists are the city’s focus, Ganser said not-so-seen parks are still essential for community members.
“Particularly [impacted are] New Yorkers who live in places that don’t have a lot of green spaces,” Ganser said. “And those tend to be the boroughs with a lot of communities of color and lower on the socio-economic ladder, which is unfair and unjust.”
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 in the aftermath of 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 each fall.
NY4P has long advocated for ample and equitable park space in New York City, releasing policy recommendations and spurring 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 an online petition assembled by the organization calling on Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council to allocate money to the parks department.
Civic engagement and collaboration of all-aged New Yorkers will continue to be a major focus moving forward according to Sherrise Palomino, NY4P’s Director of Advocacy and Programs.
“We’re continuing our advocacy and our push for one percent of the city budget to be committed to the parks department so that we can create a 21st century park system that New Yorkers deserve,” Palomino said.