NYUGreen Day of Service beautifies LES

Sejal Kothari for WSN
Sejal Kothari for WSN

NYU student and faculty volunteers met to beautify tree beds in the Lower East Side for the NYUGreen Day of Service, led by NYU’s Sustainability Initiative on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Teaming up with six other groups, including the Lower East Side Ecology Center and the New York Tree Trust, who organized the event, NYU’s volunteers planted daffodils around trees and previously planted liriope.

Jessie Baker, an overseer for NYU’s Sustainability Task Force, said environmental projects protect and preserve trees from city dangers.

“Trees in urban environments face a multitude of threats — people compacting the soil by walking through tree beds, pets using them as litter boxes, car doors being slammed into trunks, the list goes on,” Baker said.

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The volunteers planted about 4,500 daffodil bulbs in 170 tree beds by all six groups. The two dozen NYU volunteers was a large increase compared to previous NYUGreen Day of Service in July, which brought NYU volunteers to help the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance with its annual event, City of Water Day.

“This was almost threefold to our turnout at our first event,” Baker said. “I think it has to do with the fact that it isn’t the hottest day of the year. The weather is perfect.”

The goal of planting flowers around the trees and shrubbery is to pay more attention to the tree beds, avoid harming the trees and now the daffodils.

GLS sophomore Ashley Slater, a volunteer at the service day, also pointed out the benefits that the flowers will offer to the area.

“It brightens up the atmosphere of the neighborhood,” Slater said. “The flowers aren’t just for the trees, but also for the community to look at.”

The event on Saturday was just one of many continuing projects that the New York Tree Trust and the Lower East Side Ecology Center have been working toward. The two organizations are collaborating on planting new trees, putting up tree guards, and planting liriope bulbs and more daffodils.

Other volunteer groups on NYU’s campus however, they were not aware of the opportunity to volunteer.

“I think there needs to be more advertising and information about [NYUGreen Day of Service] to get people excited and involved,” said second-year graduate student and Circle K International president Muffy Lavens.

Two professors in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, Rose Vukovic and Lorena Llosa, volunteered with students on Saturday and were excited about the service project. Vukovic is a sustainability advocate and helped recruit Llosa.

“I’d love to bring more students and colleagues [to future events],” Llosa said.

The NYU Office of Sustainability will host more events throughout the year. Christopher James, spokesperson for the Office of Sustainability, said the office plans to host several speakers for the Sustainability Lecture Series, in addition to a longer lasting project to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2017.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 30 print edition. Ann Schmidt is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected] 

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