Cleaning Up the Creek


Little known to many Brooklyn and Queens residents, Newtown Creek, a tributary of the East river that splits the two boroughs, is the site of one of the world’s largest oil spills. In addition to sewage, chemical and toxic waste dumping and runoff, the 3.8 mile creek is the site of an underground oil seepage that has left an estimated 17 to 30 million gallons of oil in the water and surrounding soil. While Newtown Creek has finally gained media recognition in the last year, being designated a federal Superfund site in September 2010, a group of students and faculty at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens have been monitoring the contaminated water for over two years. Under the direction of Dr. Sarah Durand, professor in the College’s Natural Sciences department, they are now working to begin natural remediation of toxins from the creek long before the Environmental Protection Agency begins its clean up.

Second Season at Brooklyn Grange

Text and photos by Ashley Balavender

Honeybees, chickens and chard, oh my!
laggrangegroupBrooklyn Grange’s second growing season was in full swing when a group of LaGuardia Community College students walked over to 37-18 Northern Blvd. for a visit. The members of the College’s Campus Improvement Association (CIA) and Green Actions for Sustainable Practices (GRASP) had heard about the rooftop farm and were eager to see it for themselves. Led by urban farmer, Managing Partner and Co-Founder Gwen Schantz, the students took a tour of the 40,000 sq. ft. farm.

Extraordinary Students in Sustainability

Text and photos by Ashley Balavender
MELSgroupIf you’re lucky, there comes a time when the work you do to promote sustainability, however small in scale, is recognized by someone. I was fortunate enough to catch the attention of a very passionate group of students from the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills, Queens.

MELS, as the students, faculty and staff affectionately call it, is “A School for a Sustainable City,” which opened in 2010 and provides 6th and 7th graders with hands-on learning focused on science, technology and sustainability.

“The Sustainability Council: A Report from the Field” by Anthony Lugo & Judi O'Toole

recyclelagIn 2007, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein took up Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2017, and began a general sustainability initiative throughout the University’s senior and two-year colleges.

Soon after, LaGuardia Community College formed its Sustainability Council, coordinated by Executive Director of Facilities and Planning Shahir Erfan. In the last four years, the Council of administrators, students, faculty and staff have met significant challenges and created initiatives in the areas of energy, recycling, nutrition and student outreach and education.

How Does Our Courtyard Garden Grow?

plantingdayselectby Ashley Balavender

There is no doubt it’s spring with all the planting going on in the College community. For the first time, LaGuardia students are contributing their bright ideas and wielding green thumbs in the campus courtyard.

It all started with Dean for Academic Affairs Paul Arcario’s “Garden of the World” contest, in which students were asked to submit a research presentation on plant suggestions for the Cobblestone Courtyard.


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Diana Escobar



Diana Escobar isn’t only getting an education at LaGuardia, she comes on-campus everyday with one other thing in mind – how to make the College a greener place.

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