Imagine the striking bright lights of Times Square gleaming through leafy, green trees. Vibrant birds chirping above your head as you look up to admire billowing flowers and breathe forgotten fresh air.
Soon, you won’t have to use your imagination.
In June of 2016, Marielle Anzelone, a former Botanist with NYC Parks & Recreation, is transforming one of New York’s iconic landmarks into a PopUP Forest. For three weeks, a public plaza within Times Square will become a serene, ephemeral woodland for locals to find refuge from their busy city lives and reconnect with Mother Nature.
Visitors will be greeted by local trees, native wildflowers and animated vegetation complimented by a LED screen floating above the faux forest. The PopUP installation aims to create a full sensory experience, including a livestream of wildlife sounds from Inwood Hill Park to block out the blaring taxi horns and street clamors that’ve become second nature to us.
“We want people to have a rich, transformative experience,” Anzelone tells us. “As urbanites, we think we’re post-nature, and we’re not. We need nature now more than ever. It’s essential for protecting the city against climate change and disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. There needs to be some really deep thought into how we go forward, because to make this city resilient and livable, we collectively have to start thinking about ecosystem services, conservation of open space and protecting biodiversity.”
Many New Yorkers don’t know that nearly one-eighth of the city is made up of forests, marshes and grasslands, but the greater problem lies in their lack of legal protection. As development booms, local rare wildflowers and indigenous habitats are threatened. Anzelone began this project in hopes of raising awareness for the ongoing need for a comprehensive biodiversity policy in the city.
“We want to put nature where everyone says it’s impossible,” Anzelone adds. “In pairing the city and the forest, we can change the narrative and define cities more expansively to include nature.”
Will you join Marielle in the conversation? Participate in the Kickstarter campaign at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/popupforest/build-a-popup-forest-in-times-square-nyc. With your support, Marielle will reach her stretch goal of $40,000 by April 17th, 2015. Help pave the way to an urban, eco-friendly lifestyle.
*Disclaimer: The PopUP Forest is still pending official approval.