The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: Prospect Park’s Earth Week

What: A week-long celebration of Earth Day

Where: Prospect Park, Central Brooklyn

When: April 19th—27th

Why: There aren’t too many opportunities for green-minded New Yorkers to let out their inner eco-feelings and learn how to preserve the environment, whilst enjoying a pristine Parisian park-like setting—undisturbed by the usual gaggle of joggers, bikers, and tourists one might find in Central Park.

Prospect Park is a 140-year-old oasis covering 585 acres and bordering three distinct neighborhoods. Envisioned and designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the master planners behind Central Park, the Brooklyn landmark was intended as a respite from the rigors of urban life that could be enjoyed by members of all social classes. The legacy of that ideology remains strong today, and on any given weekend one can see individuals, couples and families of every stripe walking, sunning, picnicking and playing volleyball on the park’s many inviting lawns and meadows. Long Meadow, at 90 acres, is thought to be the largest meadow in any U.S. park, so there is plenty of room for everyone. Visitors cannot fit every cultural activity into one day of sightseeing, not even those with a vigorous, up-at-dawn, carpe diem mentality. offManhattan, in previous coverage, has mentioned some of the park’s adjacent hot spots, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum (where Takashi Murakami is currently exhibiting), Prospect Park Zoo, and Brooklyn Public Library. Prospect Park’s sponsors host an impressive list of amusements, including an ice skating rink, carousel, tennis courts, horseback riding, and a full schedule of free summer concerts from June through August in its annual “Celebrate Brooklyn” series.

Earth Week 2008 kicks off the weekend of April 19th and 20th with a Youth Council Celebration highlighting gardening and planting techniques and a Prospect Park Zoo weekend focusing on preserving wildlife. The actual Earth Week event, from the 21st to the 27th, will feature a different theme each day, with programming for environmentalists of all ages including lectures, tours, activities, film screenings, workshops, recyclable crafts, and a daily exhibit.

There will be walking tours highlighting the park’s flora and fauna, paying homage to the great naturalist John James Audubon (binoculars provided). A bicycle tune-up clinic will help you get your wheels in shape for a season of ecologically efficient travel around the city and will offer tips for better bike maintenance and performance.

On Tuesday, April 22nd make an Earth Day Pledge to reduce waste, conserve energy, save water and recycle; glean effective techniques for achieving these goals and post your commitment at the boathouse along with a large community of Earth-protectors. Visit the Prospect Park website for a complete schedule of Earth Week 2008 events.

Cost: Free

How to get there: Prospect Park is easily accessible by mass transit: Take the F, 2, 3, Q, S or B trains, or the B41, B71, B69, B75 and B68 bus lines. For detailed directions from anywhere on Manhattan, click the HopStop link below. (95 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, 718.965.8951, prospectpark.org)

Photo: Courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance.

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