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Van Cortlandt Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, February 19, 2004


The Daily Plant is not the only paper in town. Following hours of sleuthing, I tracked down more than ten different Parks & Recreation newsletters. Divisions from across the agency compose quality newsletters whose subjects span the spectrum of services Parks & Recreation provides New York City. This article covers only a few of our many publications.

With every turn of the season, our Urban Park Rangers create a new edition of the "RedTailer," a newsletter notifying New Yorkers of the free goings-on run by the Rangers in City parks. The sheer breadth and diversity of the events detailed in the RedTailer are testament to both the hardiness of the Rangers and to the popularity of their programs. "Many New Yorkers use the parks as places to escape the city's urban landscape and reconnect with nature. People can camp, canoe, hike, rock climb and seek out wildlife all right here in New York City," commented Michael Cushing, Manager of Explorer & Adventure Programming for the Urban Park Rangers. Indeed, I tallied a total of 168 activities in the Winter 2003 issue, which covers only three months. These activities range from owl seminars and astronomy lessons to open mic nights and Animal Courtship Singles Walks (a whimsical nod to St. Valentine); from scavenger hunts and snowshoeing to camping and canoeing; from birding and backpacking to Historic House tours and storytelling; from seminars on the History of Staten Island to discussions of glaciers.

As we know perhaps too well, New York City still has the chills. Fortunately, the Rangers’ winter season and upcoming spring season are packed with energizing activities. Coming attractions include a night hike in Van Cortlandt Park, an African American History seminar in Crotona Park, Anthony Francis’ Classical Music Quartet, "Edible Insects, Yum!", and four different activities saluting February 29, including "Leap Year: Things that Leap, Jump and Hop." To join the community of New Yorkers who eagerly await this newsletter, please access our website,, click on "About Parks," followed by "Urban Park Rangers" and "Receive the Red Tailer in the Mail." You can also read the Tailer online.

For the more technically-minded reader, there is the "Spec-Tator," a newsletter put out by our Specifications and Estimating division at Capital Projects. The "Spec-Tator," in addition to carrying a clever pun in its name, seeks to communicate the innovations in our Specs & Estimating division to the rest of the agency. One recent issue addressed some irksome problems with Type D water fountains, whose comma shape allows wheelchair access. Unfortunately, these same fountains have a tendency to become "geysers" or alternatively, to not flow at all. The "Spec-Tator" described the agency’s concerted efforts to modify and save these important amenities. The "Spec-Tator is the result of a Capital Projects brainstorm. In the future, the "Spec-Tator" will welcome submissions from other divisions and be accessible on the Parks & Recreation website.

Via "AfterSchool News," our AfterSchool staff reports the most recent achievements of program participants and informs fellow employees of upcoming events. The newsletter functions much like the "Spec-Tator," sharing successes and failures with its readership and thereby facilitating an exchange of constructive ideas. Meanwhile, our AfterSchool programs also create books of poetry, posters, art calendars, and neighborhood news articles, which are given to parents, posted in recreation centers and used for program outreach. Our recreation centers are themselves quite prolific, most notably Sorrentino Recreation Center, Lost Battalion Hall, and Hunts Point, each putting out their own newsletters like clockwork. "Through our newsletters, we share program accomplishments and information, reinforcing a sense of community among Parks staff and with the public," said Julia Schaffer, Parks’ AfterSchool Supervisor.

Written by Dana Rubinstein


"Ah, you flavor everything; you are the vanilla of society."

Sydney Smith

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