September 2009
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Archive for September, 2009

When Young People Talk…People Listen

youth neighborhood planners

MAS recently sat down with four young people from the Bronx and Brooklyn who are confronting neighborhood planning challenges head-on. Armed with information, enthusiasm and a supportive network of adults, these young people are taking the lead in addressing critical neighborhood issues.

In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Caesar Alcaite and Celeste Del Brey (pictured at left) have been working with UPROSE, a community-based environmental justice organization. When they came to UPROSE, neither had much knowledge of environmental justice issues. However, after spending more time at the organization and working with youth organizers, these teens quickly learned that there is a connection between their local environment and their quality of life. Since coming to UPROSE these teens have developed strong leadership skills — reaching out to neighbors to inform them of local environmental concerns; helping middle school students map neighborhood assets and burdens; and leading neighborhood environmental justice tours for city officials, other youth groups, and most recently, a group of 50 Columbia University graduate planning students.

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2009 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal

On Monday, October 26, the Municipal Art Society of New York will present its highest honor to two New Yorkers who have made extraordinary contributions to the city of New York. Peter L. Malkin and Robert A.M. Stern. The Medal is named for our former MAS board member as a tribute to her tireless efforts to protect New York’s great architecture. As the “voice for the future of our city,” MAS awards the Medal to individuals whose work and deeds have had an extraordinary impact on New York will continue to shape the city for years to come.

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Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil

high line

Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil an exhibition co-sponsored by PennDesign opens at The Municipal Art Society of New York with a reception on Thursday, October 1, at 6:30 p.m. It stretches thinking about both sustainability and livability even further by boldly considering strategies from around the world. We New Yorkers can be provincial at times — this exhibition gives us an opportunity to glimpse what the rest of the world is doing in response to climate change and the complex movement toward increased urbanization.

Join us for the opening reception, including a glass of local wine and sampling of canapés made from local foods. Limited space is now open to non-MAS members. Entry is free, but reservations are required. RSVP online or call Katie Skelly on 212-935-2075.

The exhibition will be on display at MAS from Friday, October 2, through Friday, December 4.

Wrestling with Moses

perry street west village people crossing street

Last Monday evening, MAS welcomed Anthony Flint, author of the new book Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City, who gave an engaging lecture on the clash between these two influential figures.

Flint portrays their battle as the ultimate David-and-Goliath story: Jacobs was the quirky “girl from Scranton” who shunned academics and would later turn down an honorary degree from Harvard. Moses was the “master builder” who graduated from Yale, continued his studies at Oxford, and returned from England with an affected English accent. He wielded his power through appointed positions, while she used savvy activism to mobilize the community and to court both the media and up-and-coming politicians like Ed Koch.

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Where is Manhattan’s Largest Green Roof?

matt postal nyt

This was a question tour leader Matt Postal asked about half-way through last Saturday’s Sustainable Design in Midtown walking tour. We were standing at the S.E. corner of 42nd St. and Sixth Ave., looking at skyscrapers in three directions, but the green roof was behind us — Bryant Park. In the early 1990s, 86 miles of underground book stacks were constructed behind the New York Public Library and underneath the park which was itself being redesigned and reconstructed.

The rest of the stops on the tour were more expected. We began at The New York Times Building, which has a number of sustainable features, but didn’t try for LEED certification. (LEED is a green building certification process, which is time-consuming and can be costly.) The owners of The Times contend that they didn’t want to pay $100,000 for the honor. For other buildings, LEED status can be advantageous as proof of their commitment to sustainability.

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