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Help Transform Times Square into a Forest

Bring green to Times Square that isn’t just dollar$.

Times Square has been through several iterations over the last few decades, morphing from smut kingdom into shiny, IRL Disney wonderland. But, if botanist and urban ecologist Marielle Anzelone gets her way, and we certainly hope she does, it might soon be transformed into a lush oasis. Anzelone recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 by April 17 to transform part of the iconic neighborhood into a nature refuge, albeit temporarily. The installation, PopUP Forest: Times Square, would bring shipping containers of trees, flowers, and soil, along with the amplified sounds of recorded birds and wildlife, to the area—replacing the normal din of shouting cabbies, flapping pigeons, and lost tourists. It would also be part of a first step towards eventually creating a more permanent installation in the city. Anzelone, in an interview with Grist, said the goal of the project is to highlight the remaining natural areas of New York that desperately need our protection.

“At the end of the day it’s about helping people see that nature exists in cities,” said Anzelone, “and it’s real nature, not necessarily weeds.”

The project is also, in Anzelone’s own words, something of a PR stunt—but for a good cause:

“Nature gets so little attention, but biodiversity loss is at the same crisis level as climate change,” she said. “I want to get people’s attention—and what’s one way to get attention? Grabbing public space, and setting up a forest in the most incongruous place imaginable.”

For those that say the project is too outlandish, you have a short memory. In the last few years Times Square has held a high-art selfie station, a glowing, beating heart, a multi-media tribute to Nelson Mandela, and been transformed into a canyon. In 2011, model and eco-warrior Summer Rayne Oakes created a similar Times Square foresting project, in collaboration with Aveeno, which was hailed a brief and welcomed respite from brutal morning commutes.

If Anzelone can raise the funds, and get approval from the Times Square Alliance, the forest will pop up in June 2016 for three weeks. Then its magic will be disassembled, with parts given to local parks and schoolyards.

Courtesy of PopUP Forest: Times Square

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