Living Amongst Pavement No More: Where I Found A New York “Green Escape”

from Wildlife Promise

I have been to New York City a handful of times during my life, and each time, I see The City That Never Sleeps in a different light.

Recently, I traveled there to attend the opening of PS41 Greenwich Village School’s green roof. The historic area of Greenwich Village is an area that I have visited before, but had never experienced through this particular lens: I saw kids living in a pavement world. I saw parents walking their kids to school every morning down 7th Ave. with taxis rushing by. I saw kids eating their breakfast while their moms and dads hustled them across busy streets.

None of this is really a surprise—I know that kids grow up in big cities—but what I didn’t really stop to ever think about, was, well…the obvious: what it really means for kids to grow up in big cities. 

I do not have kids of my own, but I do have a one-year-old niece, and seeing New York this way really made me think about how this was a normal day for these kids. I couldn’t imagine growing up in the city, and all I kept asking myself as I stood by and watched the morning commute was, “Where do these kids play? Where do they venture out for that ‘green escape’ for the afternoon?”

At PS41, I found my answer: There’s no room on the ground? No problem! We’ll put it on the roof.

PS41′s green roof. Greenwich Village, New York City.

Green roofs are not a new thing, but what PS41 has accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. They have given students (and teachers and parents, for that matter), an environmentally-friendly place to live and learn—and inspire change.

PS41 is packed between shops, parking garages and sky scrapers, but the kids that I saw on that roof had escaped from the pavement and hustle of the New York I had always known. I too, found myself not wanting to leave the roof.

We didn’t want to leave its beauty! PS41′s green roof, September 2012.

This trip to NYC and PS41 taught me that it is possible to create a green learning environment, so kids can have access to the fun and enjoyment of the natural world. I can’t wait to see which school will be next at creating a “green escape” for their students!

Turn your school into an Eco-School!

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation and how you can turn your school into an Eco-School like PS41!