In Situ
In Situ

In Situ Talk Three – September 23

“How to Make Living Sustainable”
Mel Chin in conversation with Elizabeth Yeampierre
Moderated by Marcel Van Ooyen


Sims Municipal Recycling
472 2nd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11232
Saturday, September 23, 2017
2:00 PM


“How to Make Living Sustainable” was the final of three In Situ events in 2017, conversations in iconic locations throughout New York City. The afternoon focused on topics of climate change, environmental justice, and sustainability and took place at Sims Municipal Recycling, a-state-of-the-art recycling plant on Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront. “How to Make Living Sustainable” featured artist and activist Mel Chin, internationally renowned attorney and environmental and climate justice leader Elizabeth Yeampierre of the Brooklyn-based organization UPROSE, and GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen.


About Our Participants

Mel Chin

About Mel Chin
Mel Chin is an artist resistant to any branding that may fence in his capacity to execute iconic sculptures and actions in any medium, engage in any territory-toxic or social, or to encourage the expansion and generational transfer of ideas in any alternative field. Chin has garnered international acclaim for his use of art to spread political awareness and expose social injustice, working with sculpture, video, and land art, among other mediums. He developed Revival Field (1989–ongoing), a project that pioneered the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. His nationwide Fundred Dollar Bill Project continues to engage and present this valuable form of public will to help catalyze an end to childhood lead poisoning.


His work is exhibited extensively in the US and abroad and was documented in the popular PBS program, Art 21: Art of the 21st Century. Mel is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including four honorary doctorates. A traveling retrospective exhibition of his work, titled ReMatch, opened at the New Orleans Museum of Art in February 2014. As a follow up to ReMatch which explored his mutative strategies, a solo comprehensive survey, “ALL OVER the PLACE” organized by No Longer Empty and the Queens Museum, is being planned for citywide manifestations in NYC, for spring 2018.


Marcel Van Ooyen

About Marcel Van Ooyen
Marcel Van Ooyen earned degrees in Social Ecology from the University of California Irvine and from the Seattle University School of Law specializing in Environmental Law. After graduating from law school, Mr. Van Ooyen worked for the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in Washington State, where he conducted the environmental review of proposed power plants. Upon moving to New York City, Mr. Van Ooyen worked for the New York City Council as the Chief of Staff to City Council Member Gifford Miller and then as Legislative Director for the City Council. As Legislative Director, Mr. Van Ooyen ensured the passage of over 30 environmental Local Laws, including the city’s landmark green buildings legislation, lead bill, clean air codes, environmental purchasing laws, and many more. Mr. Van Ooyen now serves as the President/CEO of GrowNYC, a key local environmental non-profit in New York City, which promotes community gardens, environmental education, recycling and waste reduction, and is best known for operating the Greenmarket farmers’ markets.


Elizabeth Yeampierre

About Elizabeth Yeampierre
Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental and climate justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry born and raised in New York City. A national leader in climate justice movement, Elizabeth co-chairs of the Climate Justice Alliance. She is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization. Her award winning vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around just, sustainable development, environmental justice and community-led climate adaptation and community resiliency in Sunset Park. Prior to assuming the Executive Director position at UPROSE, Ms. Yeampierre was the Director of Legal Education and Training at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Director of Legal Services for the American Indian law Alliance and Dean of Puerto Rican Student Affairs at Yale University. She holds a BA from Fordham University, a law degree from Northeastern University.



About Sims Municipal Recycling
Located on an 11-acre waterfront pier, the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility (MRF) has received widespread praise and multiple awards for its design by Selldorf Architects since opening in 2013. The facility, made almost entirely from recycled steel, was built with the public in mind, and features an Education Center with interactive exhibits and a viewing platform that allows visitors to see the vast processing system, which features more than $25 million in state of the art equipment, and NYC’s first commercial-scale wind turbine. Today, The Sunset Park MRF is the principal processing center for all of NYC’s metal, glass, and plastic recyclables. If you live in the five boroughs and recycle, odds are this is where your discards come to be processed before being shipped out as raw material for remanufacturing.