Super Powers

She doesn’t wear a cape, but she is a trained Super Steward. Rebecca Schwarz is single-handedly bringing back the view that gives Marine Park its name. Where Avenue U crosses the park there was a green wall of weeds obscuring any view of the fragrant salt marsh and its shoreline. Last winter Park Director Margot Perron was seeking a small army to remove the long established wall of weeds, yet Rebecca was ready to take it on solo. NYC Parks’ Super Steward training program in ecological restoration authorized Rebecca to work on her own as a volunteer in the park’s natural areas. She also had previous training from Brooklyn Botanic Garden and an endless love of plants and the environment. At first, she committed to two hours a week, but after the pandemic hit, she was able to devote 20 hours a week. 

The tedium of carefully assessing each plant then pulling, digging or cutting it out became a meditation for Rebecca. She wrote in an email, “Restoration is a kind of soul work — a reciprocity in which human heals the land and the land heals the human (I hope).” Slowly, over the past few months, she made change become visible all the way to the Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Bridge. I hadn’t seen the view along Avenue U since I was a child — it makes me want to take a deep breath of the salt air. It took Rebecca’s Super Steward powers to bring about this change.

Her efforts remind me of the limiting complaint, “One person can only do so much,” and, in contrast, others step up to prove, “Only one person can do so much.” If you’d like to develop similar super powers, please contact the head of NYC Parks’ Super Stewards program at jason.stein@parks.nyc.gov.

Please consider giving back to the park in some way,

Maria D’Alessandro

Board Chair, Marine Park Alliance

The “green wall” of weed trees and vines on Avenue U last August.