Rego Park Green Alliance is a Queens-based New York City group that promotes community involvement, environmental sustainability, and youth involvement. Its mission is to empower communities through music, murals, garden installations, and education. To that end, members have painted murals, installed plant containers on neighborhood streets, created a green wall of plants, held edible plant workshops, installed a garden at a local church, and much more.
Rego Park Green Alliance was founded by Yvonne Shortt, who believes that “if you don't like something, you have the power to change it.” After moving with her family to Rego Park, a residential Queens neighborhood, she was walking her daughter to school, and was appalled to see the poor condition of an underpass on a Long Island Railroad bridge. Yvonne noted, “People said things like, ‘Why doesn't the LIRR clean it up,’ or ‘This area is so ugly my wife wants to move.’ To everyone I say that we must not rely on others. We must learn to do ourselves. If a seven-year-old girl can volunteer to pick up trash so can you.”
To change the depressing underpass, she simply started to clean up beneath the bridge. Soon Yvonne was joined by more than 150 local parents and children who came together to paint a 1,500-square foot mural. While the area was vastly improved, littering has not stopped completely. The Alliance will continue in its efforts to improve the area by hanging up posters encouraging community members to keep their neighborhood clean.
Rego Park Green Alliance has since organized the creation of three more murals, the most recent at P.S. 139, where they also planted a vegetable garden with the help of 200 volunteers. The mural and the garden are intertwined, as Yvonne says: “Things that we are growing, you can see growing on the wall!”
Rego Park Green Alliance encourages young people to volunteer or attend events to recognize their own potential, and to also be recognized. Children are taught about the plants in the garden, including the bugs and beetles that are attracted to the plants.
Yvonne has written a children’s book that will be published this summer. A New York City Public School Goes Green is a fictionalized account of the accomplishments of the P.S. 139 Rego Park Green Committee. It was written to inspire schools and neighborhoods to form their own green committees to promote sustainability and beautification in Queens, New York City, and the world. She has readings that will be scheduled throughout the summer.
For more information and to purchase the book, click here.