Community enjoys the beauty of Idlewild Park 1

Eastern Queens Alliance Chairperson Barbara Brown, front, teaches about the importance of salt marshes while on a nature hike with environmentalists in Idlewild Park, the “Jewel of Southeast Queens.”

Environmentalists and park lovers gathered in Idlewild Park in Springfield Gardens last Saturday to celebrate creativity and ecology with a bookmaking-writing workshop and nature tour.

Dubbed Herbarium-Verbarium: Arts in Idlewild Park, the free adult workshop sponsored by the Eastern Queens Alliance offered residents a chance to commune with nature through poetry and the arts.

“The purpose of today’s bookmaking and nature walk experience is to expose residents to the beauty of what is known as the ‘Jewel of Southeast Queens,’ Idlewild Park, said Eastern Queens Alliance Vice Chairperson Gloria Boyce-Charles. “Participants will get in touch with their own feelings about nature, meditate, and hopefully put their feelings in writing after seeing the beauty of the park.” Workshop facilitator Sherese Francis added, “Today, we made and bound paper nature books then we set off on a nature walk on the hiking trails through Idlewild Park. Participants used their books, to take notes about what they observed in nature and to press flowers they found along the way. I also gave each participant a worksheet with a list of prompts so they can reflect about nature using their five senses.”

The roughly 25 workshop participants gathered at a covered outdoor classroom in Idlewild Park for the bookmaking-craft workshop before embarking on the nature walk along the park’s salt marshes.

Meghan Forbes of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, enjoyed her afternoon outdoors. “There was this element of the herbarium, the pressed flower books, which I remember doing as a kid myself and so I love the idea of working with plants and poetry,” she said.

Eastern Queens Alliance is a coalition of Southeast Queens civic associations dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the wetlands in Idlewild Park, a major source of freshwater to Jamaica Bay. At roughly 180-acres, Idlewild Park abuts JFK Airport to the north and is home to various rare animal species including the snowy egret, fiddler crab and diamond-back terrapin.

Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA) Chairperson, Barbara Brown shared her excitement for the workshop and nature walk and the future of the EQA. “We are excited about the Idlewild Environmental Science Center opening in the Park in 2022,” Brown said. In 2009, late Borough President Helen Marshall put five million dollars in the Parks budget to build the Science Center. The construction of the Center is finished, and we look forward to our grand opening and more environmental programming for the community next year.”

The Idlewild Environmental Science Center is located at 220-02 149 Ave. in Springfield Gardens. It houses two large state-of-the-art classrooms for school trips and areas for live animal displays and interactive science exhibits. It will open to the public in early 2022.

Greater TriAngular Civic Association member and longtime Southeast Queens resident Paula Johnson reflected on her afternoon in Idlewild Park, saying “We walked the trails along the salt marsh lands, we did bookmaking, it really gave me a new perspective on the community I’ve grown up and lived in all these years.”

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