The location of a month-long series of free workshops sponsored by School of the Future, an alternative-style, inter-generational school, is a little known, underutilized park called Sgt. Dougherty Park at Anthony Street and Vandervoort Avenue—at the northern-most edge of Greenpoint, under the BQE.
“It’s an empty park where nothing ever happens. We felt like it needed our help!” said the school founders Cassie Thornton and Christopher Kennedy, who for the occasion also lugged along some colorful benches and books to spruce it up.
“Teach what you will learn,” is the school’s credo, and at this new school, teachers take classes in addition to teaching others. The two founders developed their concept a little over two years ago, and are convinced that “the best teachers are the best learners,” as well vice versa. Thornton describes the school as a “union of activists and artists,” offering a collaborative and open way of learning and teaching.
The class I sat in on, “Guerrilla Gardening,” was about how to make “seed balls“ also known as “seed bombs,” with clay and seeds, that would later be thrown all around the neighborhood onto neglected properties and any fallow patches of land. The objective of the class, explained Ryan Nuonen, another School of the Future teacher and student, was to make people realize that even in an industrialized area like North Brooklyn, with its many factory buildings and abandoned spaces, it’s possible to produce greenery and color.
“Even if the results might not be obvious, at least people will do something positive and realize how it’s possible to [make our concrete jungle, more livable],” says Lacey Tauber, the teacher of the class.
On the same Sunday afternoon, the school led a bike tour of Newtown Creek. The purpose was to teach class participants about the industrial heritage of the area: pollution plumes, oil spills, and sewage overflow. The aim of the class said bike tour leader Kuonen, also a member of NAG (Neighbors Allied for Good Growth) “was to think about a better future for the creek.”