‘Ecological City’ uses the arts to inspire environmental action in New York City
“The key component is that it’s through the arts that you can build an emotional connection to the natural world," founder Felicia Young said.
For nearly three decades, Felicia Young has made it her life’s work to use the arts to raise awareness for the ecological issues facing New York City, from climate change and conservation to sustainability.
New Yorkers are encouraged to become part of Young’s mission on Saturday, when her nonprofit Earth Celebrations launches “Ecological City — Procession for Climate Solutions,” a six-hour procession of visual art, giant puppets, costumes and more through the Lower East Side’s community gardens, neighborhood and waterfront.
“The key component is that it’s through the arts that you can build an emotional connection to the natural world, that you speak to people on a different level,” Young said. “It’s visceral, direct experiential connection to both physical sites — whether it’s a river, a park, a garden, a tree, a flower — whatever we have within our city or neighborhood, it’s rooted in site.”
“Ecological City” is also rooted in similar processions Young has spearheaded in the neighborhood since 1991 to successfully save community gardens on the LES and around the five boroughs.
Saturday’s pageant, which Young promises isn’t so much a parade as it is a “transformative experience,” will feature dance, musical, theatrical and poetic performances at 20 sites across the neighborhood to celebrate the area’s climate resiliency and ecological sustainability.
Green infrastructure initiatives on the LES include bio-swales, rain and pollinator gardens, solar gazebos, urban farming and more, and “Ecological City” will connect residents to more than 50 partner groups to explore not only these sites, but find sustainability solutions.
“If people don’t have a connection to the importance of our water or the importance of green and open space in our city, then they can’t actively mobilize in wanting to preserve that,” Young said.
Adding the arts into the mix of conservation and sustainability efforts brings that conversation to a whole new level, she added, “especially when you’re not just having artists presenting work about a particular issue, but you’re actually engaging the community through the arts to create themselves.”
Earth Celebrations’ “Ecological City” begins at 11 a.m. at Loisaida Inc. Center, the event’s partner, at 710 E. 9th St. It will then proceed through the LES to East River Park. (The event’s rain date is Sunday). For more info, visit earthcelebrations.com.