Source: WILD TV: "The Animals We Live With"
Funding for the VITAL/Ready to Teach collection was secured through the United States Department of Education under the Ready to Teach Program.
Orville Edwards, an urban naturalist, describes how community gardens can help improve the quality of life in the city. Vacant lots in a neighborhood in Brooklyn are converted into gardens. Edwards works in the largest community garden. Green spaces, like this garden, become a sanctuary for people living in a busy, congested city. They become spaces for people to relax, experience healthy living and socialize with neighbors in a positive way. In this video segment from WILD TV, Edwards shares his hopes that the garden space will be replicated across the United States to bring people together.
Animal behavior, animal science, communities, social studies, environmental studies
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for elementary or middle school students using this video in an English language arts or social studies lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) How do advertisements try to persuade us to do something or buy something?
Focus (ELA) Of what does Orville Edwards try to convince us? Note how he is being persuasive.
Follow Up (ELA) Discuss the tactics Edwards uses to persuade us. Then, describe how you would try to convince others that the opposite of what Edwards is telling us is true. Persuade others using the same tactics Edwards uses.
Frame (SS) What brings a community together?
Focus (SS) What brings the people in the community in this video together?
Follow Up (SS) Discuss why the garden tends to bring people in the community together. What does it offer people? Why do people in this community enjoy the garden?
ORVILLE EDWARDS, JR. (Urban Naturalist): You’re in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Honestly, it’s the largest community in Brooklyn. We have about 400,000 people. I’m Orville Edwards. I’m a native Jamaican. I came here way back in 1980 and I exchanged blue mountains for skyscrapers and tons of green land for you know, 20x50 in my backyard. And so, innately, I’ve always been close to nature.
ORVILLE: I went to SUNY ESF which is the Environmental Science and Forestry College up in Syracuse. After I graduated, I became an urban park ranger. I then went on to another agency in Brooklyn, in Prospect Park, that dealt more with specific neighborhoods. Finding a problem and then coaxing the community groups to follow through on addressing the problems.
ORVILLE: This is one of Bed-Stuy’s main problems. We have a lot of vacant lots and they’re really dangerous for kids to use, but what we did is you know, we wrote to our community board, wrote to different politicians, department of sanitation to first help clean up the lots. And then, as a community force, we then, you know, pretty much asked them, requested that we use these lots as gardens.
ORVILLE: I mean right now, this is just an open space that’s not doing anything. This could be another playground for kids. I mean, look at how big it is. I could see some basketball hoops over here, you know, a few swings over there, maybe a little patch of grass over there for like, passive recreation - you know, just chillin’ out on the grass.
ORVILLE: Smell that. You think it smells like peanut butter? If it grows in a street or in a lot, it’ll get you sick. If you pick stuff in a garden, that’s much cleaner for you.
ORVILLE: Ah, a lot of people are always amazed when they walk in here because not only are we the largest community garden in Brooklyn, I think we grow more vegetables and plants and herbs than any other garden.
People always talk about improving quality of life and in the city I think a lot of people see that as you know, developing buildings or you know, introducing more services to a neighborhood as well. And that’s definitely part of it, but a huge part of it, that’s largely ignored is increasing green spaces. Because I mean, honestly, green spaces bring sanity to an insane city.
So you think about all these green trees and plants actually purifying the air, I mean, that helps for health. And also it’s also like a sanctuary, you know, for children and just for anyone in general, you know, who is out there in the neighborhood, dealing with certain strifes, knowing they can come into like, a little oasis in the middle Bed-Stuy. And there’s nothing but peace here, you know. It’s like God’s hand has just touched the green right here.
You gonna drop that in? If I’m in like, downtown Brooklyn, it’s a whole different feel - it’s folks hustling and bustling, nobody stopping to speak to each other even though you’re three feet away from them, everybody wants their personal space. Here, there’s like this cohesiveness, it’s like family.
They talk with each other, they share things - not just about gardening, but just about things in general. The politics of the neighborhood, or what’s going on with your family. An area like this can definitely be replicated all around the United States to bring people together and just to learn about each other.
In Bed-Stuy, a quarter of our population is below the age of fourteen and I could see if all of these young people would just galvanize themselves, pull themselves together for the same effort as getting more open spaces and I see almost all these vacant lots, all turning into green spaces.
FIRST MAN: You’d be surprised what grows in Brooklyn!
SECOND MAN: Plums, we have grapes, we have peaches.
GIRL: Tomato and lettuce.
FIRST WOMAN: Okra, green pepper...
FIRST MAN: Wax beans.
THIRD MAN: Oregano.
SECOND WOMAN: There’s nothing that wouldn’t grow in Brooklyn if it’s being taken care of the right way - including children and adults!
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.