Get to Know Jesse Brody
Jesse Brody joined Prospect Park Alliance’s LMO team in March as an Ecozone Gardener. Get to know him with this Q&A and read an essay he wrote about the park, below.
What brought you to Prospect Park Alliance and when did you start?
What were you doing before you joined the Alliance?
What is your favorite part of your job?
What do you wish all park visitors knew?
What hobbies or interests have been helping you get through the pandemic?
What is your superpower?
What makes you happy?
What Prospect Park Can Do For You by Jesse Brody
Perhaps for just a moment in time, everything can be right in your mind. Maybe you can imagine a world with no COVID, where hate is not seen as a substitute for leadership, Black lives matter to everyone, and the ecosystem is in balance. To try and achieve this glimpse of wonder, go seek out special spots in the park and fully absorb Olmsted’s ode to nature and humanity. Feel, if just for a fleeting second, how things could be. The prospect of a better reality.
See the sculptural layers of trees, shrubs and herbaceous growth flowing around the curves of the Lake’s shore. Watch the wind move through the leaves of the overstory and disappear past the bend of Long Meadow’s border. Hear the symphony of birds going about their business, just as they have for millenia. Witness the bees and butterflies working the flower factories. Breath deep and smell the native Mountain Mint and Sumac. Science tells us how important nature is to our well being, and common sense confirms we are part of it. So, train your eye from the trees to fellow woman, man and everyone in between. Is there a type of human not represented here in our park? Are the sights, sounds and smells not available to anyone who wishes to enjoy them? What a place!
To be sure, this is no Disneyland. There isn’t a filter or fee at our entrances, and we proudly welcome whatever raw ingredients Brooklyn presents. As such, that perfect moment is easily shattered. Garbage can scar the landscape, shouts of strife interrupt the birds, and the foul stench of who-knows-what lurks around every corner. But this is the price of reality, and equitable improvement for everyone is a grinding work in progress. It is a 580 acre prototype of a truly public Eden, long in the making.
Over ten thousand years ago the Wisconsin glaciation receded from our region and set the stage for the evolved species present today. Before Dutch settlement and eventual industrialisation, the Lenape inhabited this region and knew it as a natural paradise we can only imagine. A couple centuries later, when Stranahan and Vaux urged Olmsted to come to Brooklyn to outdo his work in Central Park, things started heading back in the right direction. There was a beachhead, a foothold for progress toward an oasis of real diversity of species and cultures. Since Tupper Thomas formed the Alliance just decades ago, so many more wonderful people have made it possible to enjoy the perfect moments we can experience today. I don’t imagine it was ever easy, even nature is full of struggle and suffering. But, just like evolution, the park’s guardians work relentlessly to achieve an ideal of harmony.
So when a plastic bag snags a plant, pick it up (use gloves). When a fellow park user is not respecting the rules, help them understand (be prepared to run). If a chance to volunteer is presented, seize and pull it like weed from the ground (watch out for poison ivy). Most importantly, let the park that you take care of, take care of you. Do the work to find the special spots in time, space, and frame of mind, which offer moments of well earned peace.
- Jesse Brody