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Student Involvement Day
by Bradley J. Bethel Jr.
Saturday April 18, 2015 marked Student Involvement Day for Canisius College students. This was the weekend where two groups contributed their time and effort to engage in neighborhood cleanup. The first group cleaned up in and around the Restore Our Community Coalition’s headquarters at 60 Hedley Place. The second group focused on the ROCC’s Humboldt Parkway campaign. Both events led up to three important observations for the following week: Earth Day (April 22), New York State Arbor Day (April 24), and the birthdate of Fredrick Law Olmsted (April 26).
There were seven students who volunteered to tie green burlap ribbons around the trees of Humboldt Parkway: Sauassa Burnett, Sean Daniel, Christine Fasuyi, Teresa Jackson, Margy Lin, Jack Smith, and Jon Tudor. Most of these students were from outside Buffalo, and a couple from outside the Western New York region. As the supervisor of this group, I found it beneficial if they also understood the significance of our campaign.
Beginning at the tree island in front of the Museum of Science, which is the surviving remnant of the original Humboldt Parkway, we split up into groups of two, working our way northward. On the handouts provided, the list of instructions were provided for coordination and safety for the volunteers, especially if they were unfamiliar with the neighborhood. These instructions were followed by several online resources where the students could research the biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, and the history of Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks System. As we were working, I provided additional information about the parks’ importance to the city’s neighborhoods and culture. Examples include the architectural character of Hamlin Park, as well as the general philosophy and legacy behind Olmsted’s parks.
The outing was on what turned out to be a clear, sunny day. For one whole hour, a total of 60 trees were given green ribbons on the imprint of Humboldt between East Ferry and Best Street. The imprint represents the mile-long portion of Humboldt Parkway that ROCC aims to restore. As we were working, we gave a few curious neighbors a briefing about our campaign, which they were highly supportive of.
I felt that this Green Ribbon campaign was a success on three levels. The first was continuing to educate city residents, as well as those who are less familiar with the city and its distinguished history, about why we need to remediate the landscape destruction of the past several decades. The second was strengthening our ties with Canisius College. Having been part of the Hamlin Park neighborhood since 1913, it is important to bridge Canisius students into the neighborhood the same way Grant-Amherst does for Buffalo State students, and University District does for students residing at University at Buffalo’s South Campus. Third, this campaign will be a lead-in for the Thousand Tree March currently planned for Saturday, August 1st. As we continue reaching out to other businesses for support, and continue inspiring residents to join us, we are gradually building the public support necessary for the march to become a genuine success.