Bette Midler is a woman who wears many hats. She's conquered the worlds of television, film, Broadway and music. And now she's taking over Vegas with her act 'The Showgirl Must Go On' at Caesars Palace in Vegas. But perhaps her most cherished hat is that of a conservationist. According to a recent appearance on Oprah, cleaning up the environment has "almost become an obsession." It all started when Bette noticed that the parks and open spaces in New York City desperately needed some help-especially in the lower income neighborhoods. So in 1995 she founded the nonprofit organization New York Restoration Project.
By knowing that "making a small difference leads to other, bigger changes" the NYRP cleans and greens up neighborhoods to help build a better quality of life. She also knows that it's a big job that can't be done alone. So the NYRP partners with community groups, public agencies and even individual people like you and me to help revive parks, gardens and other open spaces. And Bette isn't just the face of the organization. She also gets her hands dirty-literally. She can often be found right along her volunteers planting trees and picking up trash.
So far the NYRP has removed over 875 tons of trash, reclaimed more than 400 acres of rundown parkland and has rescued many community gardens from being developed for new commercial buildings. Understanding that the community needs to pick up where the organization stops and to prevent their hard work from returning to it's trashed up state, Bette and the NYRP believe making a lasting impact by teaching anyone who will listen about being socially and environmentally aware. New Yorkers can get a little hands-on experience through activity-based programs, attend cultural events held in community gardens or attend family-oriented park festivals. And since this world's future is only as good as the next generation, NYRP dedicates itself to teaching urban kids and teens about environmental responsibility with free programs.
All you have to do is take a look at the NYRP website to see some examples of her mission in action. Also on the website is a list of Bette's favorite reads that include books on gardening, the environment and eating healthy, nutritious foods grown organically. And I'm not the only one who's taken note of all of Bette's hard work. She's earning a much-deserved reputation for being so environmentally aware. This year she was even awarded the prestigious Rachel Carson Conservation Award from Audubon, one of the biggest conservations organizations in the country. So if you ever find yourself in New York City, try to find one of Bette's little garden gems, take a deep breathe and realize how easy it is to be green. even in a city famed for it's steel and glass.