Making a city sustainable?

This summer I had the opportunity to visit New York and experience sustainability and green infrastructure in play, exploring how food insecurity is being tackled in such a densely populated city with massive economic disparity. This was a great opportunity to get a hands-on look at public education, a really important part of helping promote greater environmental sustainability and healthier lifestyles, visiting different projects and developments around the city which aim to do just that.


Before arriving, I had worries about travelling within the city due to its size and different systems. I was also eager to make the most of my time there, visiting as many projects as possible, and gain as a rounded of an understanding of what sustainability really looks like in New York, looking at their current efforts, but also looking in the past factors which play a part.

Looking at sustainability and the prominence of food insecurity in a city with such a diverse history and social makeup really opened my eyes to the efforts needed in even the most ‘developed nations’ to provide acceptable standards of living to the large populations, and how it can be achieved.

I learnt a lot about green infrastructure visiting the regeneration project of the High Line, the climate change project at the Storm King Art Centre, exploring sustainable transit projects and visiting Governor’s Island. Creating open, green areas for the local population was key in the Island’s transformation, also providing fruit and vegetable gardens developed as part of wider schemes towards grass-roots sustainable agriculture.

A key part of my trip was visiting programmes run by GROWNYC, who provide the tools and services to anyone within the city to help improve their community and environment, I learnt a lot about improving access to good quality food and information surrounding healthy eating, as well as helping communities reduce textile and food waste. Their community gardens and education sessions were especially interesting to me, impacting how people think about the food both at home but also the environmental impacts we have.

My visit to The National Museum of the American Indian was particularly impactful, exploring their exhibition looking at ‘Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean’. Not only did it highlight the vast and lasting impacts of imperialism on both the land and native populations but also had pushed me further into looking into the anthropological side of food and how such a basic element has a significant impact on populations. This was especially impactful as it provided a look at history in significant depth and from a different perspective from which I have been taught about it in the past.

Overall, I had an amazing experience and my interest in sustainability within cities and improving food security has been really developed, with the importance of looking at both past and present social issues when addressing issues being specifically highlighted.

Categories: Go Abroad Fund, North America, USA

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