New York City released a green infrastructure plan in September of 2010 to improve the City’s water quality. But what are green infrastructures and how will the green infrastructure plan clean up the City’s water?

In the Winter of 2016, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Elma Relihan and Erin Fleischauer’s History classes at the Brooklyn International High School to find out how green infrastructures work.

To investigate, students shared their personal experiences with water, explored green infrastructures along the Gowanus Canal, and interviewed Graeme Daubert of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to learn more about the history of the city’s water. They created a set of postcards to teach others how green infrastructures make the city like a sponge.

Students presented at the Bronx Zoo as part of the 2nd Annual City Wide Visionmaker Fair: High School Competition, where students presented to six other New York City high schools on their findings of how green roofs, constructed wetlands, permeable pavements, rain barrels, and bioswales work to improve water quality.

Get your own postcard set here!


Abdoulaye Guendeba, Abdoulaye Ly, Adalberto Brito, Adil Mahmood, Amena Begum, Aminata Bathily, Amir Soliev, Anderson Solis, Anunna Meem, Anvar Suvonov, Baker Albaadani, Cesar Menjivar, Charina Pena, Diogenes Asencio, Dioneyis Bautista, Delia Garcia, Ehab Nagi, Eidy Almonte, Elenny Rodriguez, Elhadji Ndiaye, Elia Drozdovska, Elismel Diaz, Elizabeth Alcantara, Estefany Reyes, Fatema Fnu, Fatima Rahman, Fatou Bintou Diop, Ferlando Andre, Heber Murillo, Huda Muthana, Hui Lan Lin, Ibrahim Diallo, Ibrahima Sow, Jaen Wyatt Hurtado, James Celidon Faudel, Jeiffrey Garcia, Jian Ming Chen, Jing Qiu, Jonathan Russell Luna, Jonnathan Burgos, Jorge Esquivel, Julie Ducheine, Karen Mendez, Karina Diaz, Kazi Islam, Kenia Soberanis, Kevin Hernando-Suarez, Lesly Portillo, Lester Garcia, Lisbeiry Veloz Gonzalez, Luz Urena Cruz, Marco Isidro, Mariam Sangare, Mariama Diop, Melisa Rodriguez Santos, Misael Medina, Mohamed Almohamadi, Mohamed Shimul, Moises Santos, Momotaj Begum, Nazmul Tutul, Nelson Salinas, Nene Camara, Noor Qachi, Nora Kaid, Omar Faruk, Orzimurod Kholdorov, Rofiqul Mowla, Rosibel Lopez, Saidou Ly, Samh Alshaif, Sana Quddus, Sandra Torres, Santiago Moscoso, Sayed Rahman, Sharely Fernandez, Sheima Alghazaly, Sheng Zheng, Shwei Thein, Silvia Orellena, Souleymane Ba, Steven Frias, Tahirou Sow, Tamim Feroz, Widmia Petit Homme, Williams Medina, Yasilis Alcantara, Yimelly Giraldo, Yina Sanchez, Ying Zhang, Yuleisi Guzman, Yuliana Pulagrin, Zedah Islam, and Zi Xian Chen Cen

What People are Saying

“After taking this class, I want to do more hands on activities. I would like to actually put a rain barrel on the street for a week as an experiment to see what would happen to all the water, just like my collage.” – Zi Xian Chen Chen, student

“My English is not that good, and this project was very different for me. It let me know that I can still communicate my ideas in a different way. Even if I may not know the right word, right now, I can create a design to help you understand better.” – Mohammed Shimul, student

“Working with students whose first language was not English and therefore seeing first hand the benefits of art and more hands on activity to explain ideas and initiaves by the city was a huge learning curve for me. CUP brings tons of knowledge and experience to the classroom and also another way of looking at things from the standard that is typically taught.” – Elma Relihan, Teaching Artist

“Having an extremely personable female graphic artist talking to some of my Yemeni female students about career possibilities encouraged them in ways that teachers cannot. They sought Elma out at the end of class to speak with her.” – Erin Fleischauer, classroom teacher

Resources & Links

The Brooklyn International High School (BIHS) helps English Language Learners develop their language, intellectual, cultural, and collaborative abilities so that they may become active participants in today’s interdependent world. BIHS strives to help every student reach his or her potential by fostering academic growth, personal growth, and tolerance.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and Digital Ready, a partnership between the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Post Secondary Readiness and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

Special Thanks

Graeme Daubert, Christine Petro, Margaux Lacroix, and Clare Yaghjian 


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Elma Relihan
  • Project Lead
  • Jenn Anne Williams
  • Project Support
  • Christy Herbes
  • The Brooklyn International High School
  • Classroom Teacher
    • Erin Fleischauer