International HS, LaGuardia MCHS, & Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Project
Life Above the City

Robert F. Wagner, Jr. SSAT, Middle College High School at LaGuardia, International High School
Project Justification Prepared by Megan Lee and Jonathan Arrunategui

I) Name: Life Above the City

II) Who: Everybody within New York City, beginning with the collaborative effort of students within Robert F. Wagner Jr. SSAT, International High School, and Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City
What: Starting a local organization whose goal is to revitalize New York City into an eco-friendly metropolitan environment by first educating and then influencing its citizens on why and how they can create and maintain gardens – thus ultimately inspiring other cities around the world to do the same.
When: From now until when the world has modernized into a global community committed to the environmental health and stability of the planet earth. This would encompass such things as every school in the country having or being associated with a garden, maintaining and encourage their fellow students to continue this work. This would encompass a world where people care about their environment and incorporate this consideration into their everyday habits, such as shopping, traveling, eating, and even when using appliances. This would encompass a world in which environmentalism and politics are one in the same, where nature is first and foremost on the list of political priorities; because only then could our world truly be green.
Where: Starting in our local community, spreading to cities across the country, and finally growing into an international effort.
How: We began as a group of students interested in changing the world in a positive way. Through in-depth discussions, attention to simple every day observations, and a process of investigation focused on understanding the ethics of environmentalism, we recognized issues which, for a long time, have been causing detrimental effects on the world in which we live. It was then that we unanimously realized, in response to our findings, that we as members of humanity have responsibilities towards the preservation of our sacred planet earth. We sought out and devised methods towards benefitting our planet. Thus, we began to act towards environmental solutions by dividing ourselves into three separate campaigns:
•Growing at the Garden – as we transform our local garden into an education and outreach center, we will also transform young minds, teaching lessons that will enable people to understand their potential impacts on their environment, along with providing them with a manual that will educate them on how to care for a garden all year round. All this would contribute to helping people to build and maintain gardens in their own communities, ultimately leading to our vision of the construction of rooftop gardens throughout the city. But we’re not stopping there! We’ve got the commitment of the principals from all three of our schools to require future students to participate within the garden program we have designed.
•Project Pollution – as an environmental organization, we will work towards clearing our community of its land and air pollutants, not only through spreading awareness of pollution’s negative toll in the city, but also through the action of greening the city’s neglected spaces and rooftops. Basically we want to encourage people to recognize any unused or polluted spaces they see capable of being revitalized and then get them to transform these places into luscious green spaces. There is an empty lot two blocks from Robert F. Wagner Jr. SSAT that we hope to clean up and plant flowers in as our first step in initiating this campaign; we feel that this first step will serve as a solid example that will motivate others to do the same.
•“Nah, I’m Good.” – our reusable shopping bag campaign. It began with selling one bag to each student in our three schools. Our campaign slogan was inspired from the traditional response of “Nah, I’m good.” when being offered something you don’t want or need, in this case, a non-reusable plastic bag while shopping. This is representative of our desire to give our supporters a sense of well being by letting them know that they are in fact “Good” because of their support of green living.
The aim of these campaigns is a fully functioning organization that is long lasting and extremely influential in this planet’s future condition. When our “Growing at the Garden,” “Project Pollution,” and “I’m Good.” campaigns come together into a collaborative effort, they will embody our organization’s mission to revitalize the world into an eco-friendly metropolitan environment.
We are currently working on these campaigns. Our plan is to make our organization national through the help of the Middle College National Consortium and the students attending the student conference this year. Our hope is to create an international geography primarily composed of green vegetation and to therefore, basically, to restore our planet to its natural condition through eco-friendly solutions and a new world culture in which people act according to an awareness of how their actions affect their environment.
III) We wanted to do this because we saw that the world is not green. We saw how our environment is mismanaged through the tendencies and perspectives that we have adopted towards it throughout time. Environmental issues do not only affect the planet, but they affect us and the other species with which we share the earth. We agreed that, because this is our home and because this is our problem, only the power of us working together can solve this global issue.
IV) This project raises awareness, organizes people, improves health and improves the quality of our environment. Who benefits? We do. Because we are acting to solve an issue which has seemingly made itself permanent in our world, there are countless positive effects that our cause can contribute to our world.
V) Why: The reason why our organization has chosen to focus on rooftop gardens is because land is being misused. Our planet is being abused. Numerable buildings located throughout the world only suit to shelter people; whereas, they can simultaneously home indigenous species of vegetation that will restore our planet to a cleaner, healthier place. In any case, our organization has chosen not only literally to create life above the city, but to help our cities to metaphorically live above its accepted urban traditions.
VI) Our resources are our schools, students, local politicians, landowners who are willing to partake in this cause, and basically, every individual in our community. This planet is all of ours, and therefore, primarily with the help of everybody can we fix it.
VII) Our allies are other organizations and the cooperation of schools throughout our community. This includes LIC Roots, the organization currently in charge of our school’s community garden, as well as the students of our three schools, Robert F. Wagner Jr. SSAT, International High School, and Middle College High School. The principals from our three schools have also had the generous hearts to loan us with $1000 each for our organization’s campaigns.
The only forces working against us are ourselves, as this is our problem, and the only obstacle blocking us from its solution is therefore, ourselves.
VIII) Our legacy will be a world where life lives above the city, in a modernized environmentally conscious society. Just green everywhere!
IX) This project will be sustained over time because we have made sure to incorporate aspects of an organization that will continue to be pursued by future students of our three schools. Our three campaigns, “Growing at the Garden”, “Project Pollution”, and “Nah, I’m Good.” have been carefully constructed to form an influence in the world that is infallible. The goals that we set as an organization are steady, lasting goals that we will continue to push for before, during, and after the conference.
As people of the same home, we sincerely hope everyone will join.