By Bob Harris
It was sponsored by the Partnership for Parks, Queens Civic Congress, Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces, city Parks & Recreation Department and Metro Energy, along with HSBC bank, several civic leaders and other groups.About 20 groups had tables with information about ecology and conservation. Workshops were conducted on topics such as tree care; pruning; revitalizing the waterfront; battling toxic waste, oil spills and crumbling sea walls; composting; green building; solar energy; building relationships with elected officials; and grants from the Citizens Committee for New York City.A workshop I attended was a short film called “City of Water.” It showed the history of commerce in New York Harbor when boats were everywhere carrying people and products. It explained how residential housing's taking away water access and how sea walls block us from easy water access. It showed how activists are reclaiming the waterfront for people's use. It noted that during Sept. 11, rescuers cut through railings so people could get into rescue boats in lower Manhattan.Permaculture Instructor Andrew Faust conducted the workshop “How Runoff Water Affects You and Builds Biowales, Too.” A biowale's a low area where plants or grasses absorb and clean runoff water containing too much chemical and toxic waste runoff. Trees which clean polluted water and store water are American beech, white oak, hickory and red dogwood. Similar plants are clover, cornflower and certain grasses. A strip of select grass along a highway can trap and clean water which falls on highways, absorbing petroleum and other chemicals left from tires.Faust also explained that one can stop Canada geese from polluting water by not cutting a strip of grass along a waterway or pool. The geese don't like tall grass, so they don't go into it, thereby not walking into the water and polluting it.Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowsky, in her keynote address, gave an overview of Queens parks, on which the city last year spent $48 million. She noted the addition of comfort stations in Astoria and Kissena parks; a new tram for Fort Totten; the restoration of Baisley Park; and the opening of a new swimming pool, the soon-to-be-completed ice skating rink and the full restoration of the boathouse and comfort station in Flushing Meadows.Did you know there are after-school programs in many parks? Parks recreation centers yearly passes are free for people under 18, $75 for people 18-55 and $10 for people over 55. Cunningham Park has such a program at the nursery school off 193rd Street.As part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2030 Plan, the city wants to plant 1 million trees, with 55,000 going to Queens. If you know a location which needs a tree, call 311. I like the idea of more trees, but get discouraged when a developer buys a fine old house and cuts down mature trees to add cement and bricks. Where's the plan the city Economic Development Corporation's working on to limit the amount of grass, soil and bushes a builder can cover up with bricks and concrete? It's overdue.GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Our legislators voted to pump $150 billion to taxpayers and others hoping to stimulate our economy. People may spend the money on goods or pay off debts. The Federal Reserve System lowered the discount rate so businesses can borrow money cheaper. This many stimulate business growth and jobs, but I read somewhere that some credit card companies increased rates even though it's cheaper to borrow money. What gives?As I previously wrote, we've put ourselves $9 trillion in debt. We're again a debtor nation after almost a century of growth. What's the Fed going to do? Our cheap dollar means people in other countries can buy our goods cheaply and visit our country and spend money. Is that a solution? What will people say if the euro and not the dollar becomes the world's currency? You do know that the European Union's the same size as the United States and growing, right?Houston, we have a problem.