Follow the Water Walks developed models for intergenerational, community-engaged walks through choreographic, scientific, and cultural research. The walks and related activities offered an embodied experience of natural and man-made water systems, with attention to storm water routes from the East Tremont neighborhood to the Bronx River. The residency, a partnership with the Bronx River Alliance, activated the community’s cultural and environmental knowledge through movement explorations and GIS mapping strategies.
Damian Griffin, Education Director at Bronx River Alliance, is a former NYC Public School teacher who works to help teachers make the river an extension of their classroom, as well as coordinates the Bronx River Stewards Program and On Water Program. Griffin himself lives in the South Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point with his wife and two children and has been a resident since 2003. After ten years as a carpenter, Damian joined the US Peace Corps as a Vocational Education Volunteer and decided to make education his focus.
He now holds a BA in English with a minor in Spanish from Baruch College, as well as a MS in Bilingual Education from City College. In 2006, he was chosen as one 20 Toyota International Teacher Program participants to travel to the Galapagos Islands to share methods of making environmental education a part of all disciplines. Damian is also a community leader, having served as a Board Member and Treasurer for Community Board 2 in the Bronx, and having recently been appointed as the Bronx representative to the Board of Directors of the NYC Soil and Water Conservation District. For the past three years, Damian has acted as a liaison between many of the scientific studies and restoration projects going on along the river, the scientists who manage them and the communities along the river. A large part of that work is “translating” the ongoing work into a form that will help to engage youth and community members while building a greater understanding of the importance of the work to the river ecology and the community as well. Damian is trained in DEC-managed curricula such as Project WILD, Project WET and Project Learning Tree, and has organized workshops to promote these programs to teachers and non-formal educators.
This symposium focused on the phenomena of New York City’s waterways and weather systems, particularly the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the city and the role of interdisciplinary strategies to create flexible responses to large-scale phenomena. Presenters included Liz Barry, Jessica Einhorn and Lailye Weidman of Higher E.D.; Rebecca Boger, Damian Griffin and Paloma McGregor of Follow the Water Walks; professors John Waldman and Victoria Marshall and research scientist Philip Orton. Performances by Paloma McGregor and Meredith Ramirez Talusan.