A ‘Nature School’ Meets in Brooklyn

Nature is all around us, even in New York City. Though it can be difficult to appreciate the magnolia and ginkgo trees when running to catch the subway, we are in fact surrounded.

Field Meridians, an artist collective in Brooklyn, wants to help harried New Yorkers stop and smell the Callery pears. The group recently started a six-month program called Nature School that aims to help New Yorkers bring their natural environment out of their peripheral vision and into focus.

The project invites local artists to host workshops of all kinds — birding, garden cleanups, making batteries out of soil — that encourage its neighbors in Crown Heights to notice the city’s natural landscape, said LinYee Yuan, the founder of Field Meridians and the editor of Mold, an associated food and design magazine. “I think that it is compulsive to leave the city to connect with nature,” she added, “and although I do think that is important, I wanted to remind people that nature is in our cities and that we are nature ourselves.”

Their goal is to keep residents of Crown Heights connected to the ecology of the city by creating space to breathe it all in. On a sunny Saturday afternoon — a reprieve from a week of torrential rain, flooding and an earthquake — Brooklynites gathered at the Brower Park Library in Crown Heights to admire Mother Nature from her good side.

In a room at the back of a brand-new Brooklyn Public Library branch on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Nature School students began to gather shortly before 1 p.m. Shirley Cox, 85, and Robin Badger, 61, were the first of 10 participantsto arrive at the “Stitching Our Experience” workshop this month led by Megumi Shauna Arai, an artist who works primarily in textiles.

LinYee Yuan, the founder of Field Meridians, wants to remind New Yorkers “that nature is in our cities and that we are nature ourselves.”Credit…Ahmed Gaber for The New York Times
Rita Troyer, a relatively recent arrival to the city, was grateful for an opportunity to re-engage with the earth as a New Yorker. It’s possible, she said, you just need “a longer taproot” to access it.Credit…Ahmed Gaber for The New York Times
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