As the the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 69) convened at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, September 16, local residents braced for mid-town gridlock and the parade of protests aimed at UN leaders. Once again, we’re reminded of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza‘s historic role as Gateway to the UN, enshrining the Rights of Public Assembly and Peaceful Protest. Until the close on October 1, high-level security will extend to the park and surrounding neighborhood Security details are posted on roof tops while boats patrol the East River.
The Assembly’s “General Debate” presents 196 speakers over a period of six days on major issues of international concern, comprising all the 193 UN Member States, as well as the Observer State of the Holy See, the Observer State of Palestine and the delegation of the European Union. In addition, 2000 media accreditations have been processed.
This year’s theme is “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda” but much of the discussion will focus on urgent crises arising from ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and South Sudan.
Among the high-level meetings, President Barrack Obama chairs a Security Council Summit on Wednesday to address the growing, pervasive threat of terrorism and ISIS. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convenes a session on Thursday to focus on the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Climate change is also of great concern. For the first time, at Tuesday’s Climate Change Summit , China committed to making its economy more carbon efficient. President Obama said climate change was moving faster than efforts to address it, and that the US and China had a responsibility to lead other nations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the collective sense of urgency, saying “never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change”.
An art installation designed for Dag Hammarskjold Plaza draws attention to the importance of honey bees to our food supply and environment. Muralist Matt Willey created 193 painted panels of bees to represent the number of UN-member nations. Already, the artist has made his mark with bee murals for organizations that include Burt’s Bees corporate headquarters, prestigeous museums and public spaces.
The park’s entrance dome represents a swarm of bees that have flown from the symbolic bee hives seen on the sculpture platform next to the fountain.
“The Good of the Hive Initiative begins with the struggle of the honeybees, but it also views the hive as a metaphor for communities of people,”says Willey.
“Honeybees within the hive ‘think’ collectively; their immune system is collective: the health of the individual is based on the health of the collective. Whether that community is an actual honeybee hive or the American people as a whole, the health and success of the individual relies heavily on the connections within groups. This is the essence of The Good of the Hive Initiative.”
“We want to stimulate dialogue and awareness of how the health of the honey bee impacts our own health and food supply,” says FDHP President Sherrill Kazan.
WHAT’S AILING THE HONEY BEES? Colony Collapse is a disorder in which large numbers of bees disappear from the hive, abandoning their queen. First reported in 2006, the vanishing bees seem to have lost their homing instinct, as if their DNA were damaged. The use of pesticides known as neonicotinoids has been implicated, but without conclusive evidence, the chemical continues to be widely used in large-scale industrial agriculture.
The “Sing for Hope” piano is back this year for a three-week stay in the park beginning June 6th. Amateurs and professionals are welcome to play, kids included. The piano is near fountain at Dag’s Patio Cafe.
IF you’re a performer(s) with an “act”, i.e. sing and play piano, four hands, etc, we will schedule a showcase and spread the word. Send an email with contact info and your idea (20 to 30 minute showcase) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a 3-week stint in public space around the city, the piano will be donated to a public school, senior center, etc. For more information about the Sing for Hope program, visit the website https://www.singforhope.org
Our spring season kick-off. NY Swing Trio entertains. Enjoy Kate’s birthday cake and garden tours. Come meet your neighbors and find out about new programs, events and volunteer opportunities. Flowers on parade! Bring your friends–it’s free and fun!
Saturday, May 13, 1pm to 3 pm. Rain-date May 14, same time. The Katharine Hepburn Garden is located in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, East 47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan.
Read our latest newsletter online. If you are a member, the printed version has been mailed. See photos of our vibrant community at work and play. Enjoy memories of Oktoberfest, the Sing for Hope Piano, cafe scene, and the parade of pooches, “Dag Dogs.” We’re making major improvements as an agent of change. Check out our volunteer opportunities and help beautify and enrich our town square and garden.
Enjoy the peaceful serenity of Hammarskjold Plaza in winter with twinkling lights and fir trees in the 6 fountains. Walk among the silver birch trees in the woodland garden. Be careful of slippery conditions.
P.S. If you walk your dog in the park, wash paws exposed to salt that has been applied to melt snow on pavement.
Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza holds our annual members meeting on Nov. 16th at 6:30 PM, 224 East 47th Street, Vanderbilt Y, 5th Floor conference room. All current members vote for the slate of officers and directors. We have invited the Parks Department to present scope of work to be performed with Capital Funding awarded to Hammarskjold Park by Councilman Dan Garodnick. By law, we also provide a financial review. Refreshments served. Come meet your neighbors, city officials and find out how you can get involved in park preservation, programming and upkeep.
Oktoberfest returns to Dag Plaza with pumpkins galore. Kids decorate pumpkins; the clown paints their faces and twists balloons. Adults enjoy live music and meet neighbors. Scroll down to view flyer and share with friends.
Dag’s Patio Cafe is cooking up a special Oktoberfest bratwurst and beer combo in addition to their regular fare for purchase.
This is NOT the week for a leisurely stroll through the Plaza. From Sept. 20 to Sept. 30, Hammarskjold Plaza is on high-security or lockdown when state officials visit the United Nations during the General Assembly. Expect marches and protest groups from around the globe, some with amplified sound. Tudor City Place and East 41st through East 47th streets from First Avenue to Second Avenue will be closed while the Assembly is in session.
The garden is closed and barricaded. Trash bins have been sequestered behind barricades.
The NYPD will completely close First Avenue between East 34th and East 49th streets to traffic because of the security required when world leaders congregate by the dozens at U.N. Headquarters. Police will also restrict the use of the eastern parking lane of Second Avenue to law enforcement and emergency personnel only.
Starting June 6, Play Piano in Dag Plaza. Spread the gift of music!
A hand-painted piano installed by the nonprofit organization “Sing for Hope” offers an open invitation to anyone who wishes to play during its 3-week stay. Each year, 50 Sing-for-Hope Pianos are hand painted by volunteer artists and donated to schools and community centers after their debut in NYC public spaces.
“The pianos serve as a symbol and celebration of art for all,” says project coordinator Chris Sweatt. “Last year, the pianos had a one-hundred percent survival rating due to our protective tarps and piano-buddy system.”
Anyone can step up and tickle the keys, children included. The program also provides featured artists to be announced.
The piano in Hammarskjold Plaza will be located in the “lounge area” between Dag’s Patio Cafe and the cobblestone entrance to the Katharine Hepburn Garden. This more protected placement enhances cafe ambience and invites visitors to explore the newly planted garden. If you would like to schedule a Noon or Happy Hour performance, contact FDHP and we will post on chalkboard. Let’s have some fun!
Credit: “With Liberty and Jazz for All” painted by Jennifer Kakaletris Boyar
BE A “PIANO BUDDY”
We need volunteer “Piano Buddies” to cover the piano with a tarp when rain is forecast. Please call 826-8980 and leave your contact information