Brooklyn, New York

New York City, one of the largest and most iconic cities in the world. Images of Time Square, yellow taxis, and the Statue of Liberty immediately spring to mind. But these images are not what come to mind for a New Yorker, especially not a fourteen-year-old New Yorker. Instead, it’s years filled with adventures, experiences, memories, and sensations. Something utterly personal and something shared with us in these pages, This Is Ours: Brooklyn Heights.

Brooklyn Heights lies alongside the East River and overlooks Manhattan. Along the cobblestone streets, it is only a short walk down to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, where the spectacular skyline dazzles most--a classic New York photo opportunity. But Brooklyn Heights is not only an area of New York that affords tourists a beautiful vista; to the students who created this book, it is an area to play sports, walk home and meet friends--it is their environment. These students have grown up in one of the most well-known cities in the world, where the skyscrapers tower over the individuals on the street. What the students have shared with us on these pages brings our attention down from the buildings and onto the teenager on the sidewalk. They have shared with us what makes this iconic city theirs. It is theirs in a unique, personal, and amazing way, one that is shown in every photograph, every sentence, and every drawing in this book.

The privilege of being granted this insight comes from the openness and thoughtfulness of an amazing group of 8th grade students at Packer Collegiate Institute. The students jumped at the opportunity to share their voices, their passions, and their environment with the readers of the This Is Ours book series. Everything in this book is credit to their willingness and generosity in sharing with the world what is theirs.

The process was as rich and illustrious as the outcome of the book itself. The students discussed the meaning of an environment and then, more personally, what their environment meant to them. Ideas were created, topics debated, and stories shared, until eventually the group agreed upon six central chapters for the book: seasons, housing, water, nature, transportation, and food. Students then developed their ideas and decided how best to capture the essence of their environment via writing, photography and drawing--not an easy task. Through rigorous discussion, creative thought, and a lot of hard work, these students have allowed us a personal and fascinating insight into their environment, their Brooklyn Heights.

Everything from this page onward is the work of the students. Everything in this book is theirs, and everything they share with you is theirs. This is truly theirs.

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