Native Americans in NYC Today.

On this Native American Heritage Day let’s be mindful that the human settlement of two continents that began at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch is a cultural story that continues today. Most relevant to HarborLAB is today’s New York City, ancestral domain of the Canarsee, Lekawe (Rockaway), Mespeatches (Maspeth), Matinecock, Munsee and Wappinger peoples. New York City is home to more people with Native American tribal affiliations than any other city in the US. With the recognition of multiracial identities in the 2020 census, that number has greatly increased. Other indigenous ethnicities, such as Aztec and Maya, are also now recognized by the census. The American Indian Community House map above is based on the 2010 census, before those reforms. It reveals a distressing overlap with poverty tracts and the Rikers Island prison.

The American Indian Community House serves all continental Native populations of the US, including New Yorkers from dozens of tribes from Florida to Alaska. We encourage you to donate to the American Indian Community House.

December 10, 10am: Volunteers and Students Meeting

Hi All! On December 10 at 10am we’ll have our annual review and planning meeting online. If you were a stipended student or volunteered for 2022 programs or administration of HarborLAB, please set aside some time that morning to join us. We’ll look at our finances and other material resources, prospects for support and recruitment, service opportunities and program development for 2023. We’ll be sending a Zoom link to you by December 1. Thanks!

In the meantime, let’s set up seed gathering dates! We have milkweed but could use new stocks of little bluestem, seaside goldenrod, pokeweed and other indigenous plants. Drop a note to Thanks again!

2022 Peace Paddle Memories!

Townend Harris High School Key Club students. Photo by Ashley.

HarborLAB kicked off Peace Week by sharing a wonderful paddling event in Gantry Plaza State Park with the LIC and broader NYC communities, assisted by fantastic students from the Townsend Harris High School (NYC BOE, located on the Queens College campus) Key Club.

Leading the event — superbly — was Sally Attia with Jamilah Grizzle, Jamie Ong, Laura Picallo, Kamala Redd, Patricia Menje, Scott Wolpow and Nikoletta Bali-Keyes. Thank you, New York State Office for Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Gantry Plaza State Park management and staff for making facilities and access for this event possible. And thank you fiscal supporters and all volunteers!

The theme of this year’s UN International Day of Peace, September 21, is “End Racism. Build Peace.” At HarborLAB we chose to focus on environmental racism and to celebrate those who work toward environmental justice. That can be local asthma impacts from trucking or the suffering caused by climate chaos and plastic pollution in the Global South.

From the HarborLAB DEI Committee, with special thanks to Student Outreach Manager Jamilah Grizzle, Program Director Kamala Redd and Board Member Jamie Ong: “The global clean water crisis, climate change, and other troubling consequences of pollution have historically placed a disproportionate burden on refugees, communities of color, and other underprivileged populations. Combating environmental racism is imperative; as it not only aids social equity, but it also provides longevity and quality of life for those affected by it. The inextricable link between racism and the environment necessitates its eradication in order to facilitate pathways of peace. Families are encouraged to envision the change they want for their community and planet.”

HarborLAB’s full festival featuring peace lanterns will return next year with a new focus on the arts and environmental science.

Photos by HarborLAB Board Member Jamie Ong, Volunteer Manager Laura Picallo and student Erica Jin.

Summer 2022 memories…So far!

HarborLAB’s volunteers and students have had a wonderful time introducing public paddlers to New York City’s estuary system this summer. As we look ahead to August through October, here’s a slideshow gallery of some sweet recent moments in Little Bay Park, Randall’s Island Park, Idlewild Park, MacNeil Park, Newtown Creek and Gantry Plaza State Park. Such a wide area of service was made possible by our innovative program, The WAEV (Water Access Electric Vehicles). The WAEV consists of two Nissan LEAF EVs stuffed with Sea Eagle 385ft Fast Track tandem inflatable kayaks, eliminating the need for unsafe and polluting trucks and trailers on our congested city streets and in neighborhoods already impacted by environmental injustice.

We hope you join us for the balance of the season! A huge thanks to our sponsors and the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development for helping to make this all possible!