Spring 2021 — Teachers & Writers Collaborative partnered with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to offer students a unique opportunity to learn and write about the NYC waterways and water management systems. Through the “City of Water” program, 4th-grade students learned about the city they live in and went on a creative journey through NYC water systems.

Following is a description of the program shared in the student anthology, and samples of student work.

CITY OF WATER is an innovative, 6-week program that guides NYC public school students in writing poetry that explores NYC waterways and water management systems. This iteration of City of Water was a collaboration between Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W), the DEP, and the 4th graders at the East Village Community School (EVCS.) Under T&W poetry teaching artist Libby Mislan and DEP tour guides Latoya Anderson and Robin Sanchez, EVCS students took a virtual tour of NYC’s waterways, drinking water, and wastewater management systems, and wrote poems inspired by what they learned. Our poems focused on the journey of water from the watersheds of upstate New York into the city, brought awareness to environmental issues like fat-bergs and plastic pollution, and highlighted solutions to combined sewage overflow (CSO), like rain gardens.

Here is some of the work of these talented students!

Zooey B., 4th-grade

Oh, Rain Garden!

Oh, rain garden!

The way you smell beautifully in the shiny sun.

The way you help our oceans by drinking the storm water,

And it helps us, too.

You save fish and dolphins from the clear crystal seas.

You grow flowers, and green plants.

You help all our seas, and our sea creatures.

Aiko W., 4th-grade

A Misty Feeling, A Quiet Smell

Oh, rain garden!

The way you are the color to an eye,

rosy red and daisy yellow,

and a flash of lavender purple.

The way you sway in the wind,

dancing with others,

trees to flowers, flowers to trees.

The way you are green, in a calming way.

The way you know what to do when a storm

comes– you start soaking, drinking,

making sure the sewer pipes don’t flood.

Oh, rain garden!

The way you give oxygen,

drinking melting snow,

giving fresh air.

The way you give a smell

after it rains, a misty feeling,

a quiet smell.

But when there is no rain,

you smell of sweet scents,

butterflies and bees humming

and dancing near you.

But if you please, don’t throw your garbage

in a rain garden– we soak rain,

not plastic!

Max N., 4th-grade

Still, Silent, Meditating

First, I drop from the clouds.

Silvery, Clear, Smooth.

I am small as a beetle.

Next, I drop into a reservoir.

Straight, Rippling, Softly.

I am soft like a kitten.

Then, I flow through a water tunnel.

Fast, Slithering, Smooth.

I am clean like a pillow.

Finally, I land in a cup.

Still, Silent, Meditating.

I am silent like a mouse.