Living in a city gives students a very different perspective on their environment than their peers who live in other places. An urban environment may be heavily concrete coated, yet still allows many wonderful opportunities for children to experience the positive aspects of our natural world, with a look to the future of environmental conservation. City kids grow up living in community. They share resources, actively participate in recycling, take care of their parks, air and water, and tackle greenhouse gas emission by using mass transit. They experience everyday urban phenomena on the way to school, such as traffic, construction, and crowds, yet have a healthy sense of optimism and pride in their home town, New York City. Like students the world over, these students have aboundless enthusiasm for self expression, which has been channeled into the pages of this book. Through the sharing of personal knowledge of their surroundings in photographs, writing and drawings, they hope to give other students a window into their world.  

The followings photographs were all taken during a three-week time period in February, during one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory in New York City. As they travel to school by subway, bus and on foot, students in New York City have the opportunity to experience their natural world first hand, chilly though it may be. The experiences they have had during the This Is Ours program have helped open their eyes to the wonder of icicles on awnings, the odd angles and interesting shadows created by their vertical world, and the framing of a friend’s portrait in their viewfinder. Students learned to tell their stories with digital cameras and their own technology – cell phones – as they walked the streets, observing and documenting what they saw. These pages tell a story of what it is like to be alive, a student and a citizen of an urban environment during one of the coldest months of the year in New York City.

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