Symposium Inspires Women to “Protect Mother Earth”

Women Greening the Globe Recognizes Efforts of Instrumental Advocates for Environment

By Lucy Farfan-Narcisse

The Greenbelt Conservancy hosted their first “Women Greening the Globe” Symposium at the College of Staten Island.

The event focused on and recognized dynamic women who have been instrumental to the establishment of sustainable communities and upholding a connection to Earth.

“One determined woman committed to making a difference is a force of change,” said Steven Cain, executive director of the Greenbelt Conservancy. “She is a leader who empowers others, whether it’s in her own backyard, or a continent away. One woman can make a difference.”

The Symposium featured speeches from advocates from Greenbelt Conservancy, Lori Joyce, a film director, an urban ecologist, presidents and directors of parks, administrative staff from CSI, and a musical performance by African composer and songstress, Kaissa.

Cain introduced the day’s speakers by highlighting some of their achievements.

“By preserving pristine open space from development, to restoring a neglected and polluted river, or transforming one of the world’s largest landfills into an extraordinary urban park, today’s speakers are motivated by the desire to restore and preserve a healthy environment for future generations.”

According to Assistant Project Manager of the Greenbelt Conservancy Marisa Monte, the Symposium demonstrated how one person can make an indelible difference in their neighborhood and beyond.

The Conservancy emphasized the constant and dedicated endeavors to conserve, restore, and increase green spaces within the five boroughs and around the globe.

“Our mission for the Symposium was to educate residents to what these women are doing to better our communities in the face of environmental challenges and to inspire them to perhaps take part in those efforts or start their own,” said Monte.

Another featured speaker was Marielle Anzelone, founder and executive director of NYC Wildflower Week. She is an urban ecologist whose work focuses on connections between people and nature.

Anzelone’s organization holds events in all five boroughs to encourage people to participate in different kinds of programs.  She is currently working on a project called “Pop-Up Forest: Times Square” that will offer people an opportunity to immerse themselves in a natural experience and will be structurally similar to a piece of the Staten Island Greenbelt placed in the middle of Times Square.

“This project is actually a Trojan Horse,” Anzelone said. “It’s a way we are going to bring nature to people’s attention but then there is going to be long term legacies such as comprehensive biodiversity agenda for NYC and eventually elements of nature created on every city block.”

The Women Greening the Globe Symposium was funded by the Greener NYC Initiative grant and created to emphasize a global connection to environmental conservation and sustainability by educating local residents.

“I think it is really inspiring when you think about [the] many women working and in some cases dedicating their lives to making the world greener and more sustainable.” said Erica Golin, a Psychology major, at CSI and CUNY Service Corps Member at Grow NYC.

“Women tend to be more nurturing and caring by nature, character and definition. Women have so many qualities that make them excellent leaders of environmental stewardship,” Golin continued.

This shared sentiment and underlying message of women caretaking the earth was echoed by director Lori Joyce, whose documentary “Arise” served as an instrument of inspiration for the Symposium.

Cain was inspired by “Arise” and felt that the Greenbelt Conservancy in Staten Island was connected to the same undertakings and accomplishments that were featured in the film.

“Arise” profiles the lives and accomplishments of thirteen women across the globe who spread and amplify a message of hope.

Joyce’s motivation to create this film stemmed from her own transformation, spiritual journey, and awakening.

“In countries all over the world there is a powerful movement of women happening right now, and it is in all avenues. It is particularly powerful in the environmental movement,” said Joyce.

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