The South Bronx celebrated the 15th annual City of Water Day on Saturday, with messages of optimism and alarm.
The annual event is aimed at raising residents’ awareness of both the wonders of their natural surroundings, and the increasing risks posed by sea-level rises brought on by climate change for those who live and work in the waterfront communities of Port Morris and Hunts Point.
Festivities began at Maria Sola Community Green Space in Port Morris, where people came out for free food, interactive art, and community, to the sounds of ’90s soul and Latin ballads. The green space was a refuge from the beating summer sun, where festival-goers’ greatest concern was getting up to get a second plate of taquitos. Kids gathered for a turn at finger painting next to an open mic, made available for community members to share their voices.
Mychal Johnson, co-founder of South Bronx Unite, conducted half-hour tours, to call attention to the beauty of the Port Morris waterfront few residents have access to. Johnson said he envisions a green space like the Maria Sola Community Garden, that would allow community members easier access to their waterfront. The Lincoln Ave. Street End project proposes such a space, with a plan to revitalize 14.3 acres of waterfront for public use while also improving flood protection.
Johnson drew contrasts between the breezy community garden that hosted the party, to the numerous high-rise apartment buildings along Lincoln Avenue, which have shot up in recent years.
“They think that’s economic development,” said Johnson, gesturing to the high-rises.” [The garden] is economic development. That’s not sustainable. This is.”