Cultural Exchange

As a park serving mostly immigrants, Travers Park has taken several strides toward accommodating the needs of its users. For example, the JHBG Committee works to improve Travers Park by cleaning, adding plantings, and advocating for increased funding and obtaining grants for programming and beautification projects. The Jackson Heights Beautification Group, or JHBG, is a grassroots community organization of people who live and work in Jackson Heights and care enough to help make Jackson Heights one of the best neighborhoods in Queens and New York City. JHBG was established in 1988 and is a 501(C)-3 nonprofit organization. According to weekend park visitors, on Sundays, a Greenmarket brings fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as baked goods, honey, eggs, and flowers, to the park 1.

Scene: People can pay at the Sunday Greenmarket in Jackson Heights with food stamps. (Photographer: Brooke Kempner/CPL Media)

Every Sunday from May through November (usually between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM), Travers Park is host to a farmer’s market that is part of the Greenmarket program operated by the New York City Council on the Environment. This is a great addition to the culture of the park because it brings people of different backgrounds together for the sake of consuming common goods. By doing this, the park serves not only as a typical recreational park, but also as a center for both the exchange of goods and culture.

The park does not need the Greenmarket to help cultures mix. One set of parents with their adorable baby stated that although there are people of different backgrounds, everyone was amicable. They have no problems with other groups. The people who use the park are able to mix simply by letting the children play together. One Chinese grandfather said that one of his favorite parts of Travers Park was the division of the big kids playground and the playground for the younger kids. He was not concerned with what the ethnicity the other children were, but simply that the kids were all able to play nice since they were all around the same age. Another woman who was meeting friends at the Park noted that language does not matter to the children. Her children not only were able to play with other children, but also were able to pick up languages that the other children speak. Additionally, one Asian woman was friends with two other women who were speaking Spanish. The Asian woman joked, “I can’t understand what you are saying” and then the three chatted in English.

Perhaps the openness of the children who come to Travers Park is due to the openness of the different people who bring them there. Although there were children who came with their families, many also came with their nannies. The nannies themselves came from different background including, but not limited to Asian, Hispanic, and Black. These nannies brought the children they were taking care of to the park. These nannies would allow the children who they were taking care of to play with each other while they themselves talked. The children were often of different ethnic backgrounds as well. A place as simple as the park was able to bring so many people of different cultures to mingle together.

  1. “Court”, 79th Jackson Heights Blogspot 8/22/10

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