The renaissance taking place in Newark is good news for citizens in the long term. But in the short term, city life for a child can still be very difficult in neighborhoods where significant challenges can be entrenched. One of the most distinct problems in Newark is the lack of green space. Without easy transportation in and out of the city, some Newarkers perceive the cityâ€™s limits as an imagined geographical barrier. While an urban neighborhood is not walled off, or its citizens walled in, growing up there can make one feel that way. Children can grow up disconnected from the natural places they read about in science class or see on television, and may reach high school age never seeing a vegetable garden. Healthy air, water, and living space are perceived as luxuries afforded to those in the suburbs. Observing nature is a key component in learning anything about biology, and science in general, and so students without parks or green space begin their education sealed off from firsthand contact with basic natural resources.
In NJNâ€™s documentary, A Greener Greater Newark, we see people who are working to change that. Newark residents are finding ways to create park and garden space, beautify what space they have, and encourage teachers and children to find ways to explore science and environmental education.
In this thirty-minute high-definition program, NJN features two non-profit organizations that exemplify these efforts and work to lend these individuals a hand. Twenty years ago, the Greater Newark Conservancy started teaching Newarkâ€™s kids, teachers, and citizens how to create natural spaces and explore nature study within the city. It recently opened an amazing educational garden â€“ the Prudential Outdoor Learning Center — in the Central Ward. In addition, Parks for People-Newark, a program initiated by the national conservation group Trust for Public Land, has also helped facilitate the efforts of local residents who join together to create desperately-needed city parks. A Greener Greater Newark also profiles the neighborhood leaders and residents these groups depend on, the citizens whoâ€™ve committed their time and resources to educating kids and beautifying blocks. Together, they are defying the odds to, slowly but surely make Newark a greener city from the ground up.
The Conservancy has made a strong commitment to bring natural spaces and environmental education into Newarkâ€™s neighborhoods and schools. Robin Dougherty, the executive director, describes how the groupâ€™s mission to highlight the long-term benefits of environmental awareness is continually reaching wider audiences and more neighborhoods as Newark itself experiences the changes of renewal and renaissance. Entering its twentieth year, the Conservancy helps teachers run their own environmental science programs and residents grow community gardens and green their properties. Great opportunities occur when people living in one of the most densely-populated cities develop an appreciation of natural resources.