NY4P Interns Debut New Method of Understanding Parks

July 18, 2016

Every report NY4P produces requires hundreds of hours of surveying, research, and data analysis. This is only possible through the contributions of the great interns we are lucky to work with every year. This summer we are joined by four student interns from New York University, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, and the Pratt Institute, and a research and planning Fellow from the Pratt Institute. In their work for NY4P, Alisha Beatty, Lesther Martinez, Daniel Tjondro, Caroline Todd, and Charlie McCabe are using an exciting new method for understanding parks usage that will enable us to advocate even more effectively for parks. 

The NY4P intern team is collecting data on open space usage in the Bronx as part of a research project with the Bronx Community Health Network. BCHN aims to reduce obesity and improve the health and wellness of residents of the Bronx through various measures, including improved access to parks and open spaces. 

The project is currently focusing on six Bronx parks, using the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities, a new data collection method developed by Dr. Deborah Cohen of the RAND Corporation. They recently worked with the City Parks Alliance on a nation-wide study of 174 parks across 25 major US cities. NY4P helped them identify sites in New York City, and the study yielded fascinating results.

The team will visit each park at least seven times: one initial period of observation, and morning and afternoon visits on two weekdays and one weekend. The data they gather will ultimately paint a picture of how people in the surrounding communities are and are not using these parks and playgrounds, and will offer insights into how parks, and parks outreach and programming can be improved.

As part of our ongoing effort to create citizen data scientists, our interns are also training youth from El Puente in Williamsburg, and the Brownsville Community Justice Center, both in Brooklyn. These young people can then inform and empower their communities with research and information.

So if you see folks with NY4P badges in your parks this summer, feel free to say hi and ask them what they’re learning about your neighborhood! (Good lunch recommendations are always welcome, too.)

Learn more about our interns:

Alisha Beatty: Alisha is currently a graduate student in the Urban Planning, Environment, Infrastructure and Transportation program at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. In addition to her work with NY4P, she is also a Graduate Researcher with the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and the Chair of the Student Representative Committee of the American Planning Association New York Metro Chapter. Alisha graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from SUNY Stony Brook.

Charlie McCabe: Charlie is currently a graduate student in the Urban Placemaking & Management program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, working to finish his studies in December.  Prior to attending Pratt and serving as a research and planning fellow for NY4P this summer, Charlie worked for several parks non-profits, most recently, the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. He is on the board of the City Parks Alliance. Charlie is returning to Boston in August to work on his final project for his master’s and hopes to work with community groups, cities, and towns to build, expand and program parks, public spaces, and trails in Boston and beyond.

Lesther Martinez: Lesther is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University, expected class of 2018. During the academic year he works at Morewood MakerSpace and the Fund for Advancement of Minorities through Education, both in Pittsburgh. He is also the founder and president of the National Organization of Minority Architects within the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon.

Daniel Tjondro: Daniel is a recent graduate of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and will begin pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Princeton University in the fall. He has worked for the New York Botanical Garden and the Queens Public Library, and held internships with The Nature Conservancy and City Growers. At Stuyvesant he was involved in many extracurricular activities including the Red Cross Club, the Science Olympiad Club and others.

Caroline Todd: Caroline is currently pursuing her Master of Science in City and Regional Planning at Pratt Institute, expected graduation in December 2016. At Pratt she is the Team Leader in the Innovation in Affordable Housing HUD Competition. She is currently a licensed real estate salesperson with Stribling & Associates, and has worked in Get Out the Vote and congressional campaigns in Memphis, TN, and as a Policy Intern with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Caroline holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Rhodes College.