Randall’s Island Park Alliance

Literary Program

Randall’s Island Park offers vast acres of green space, woodlands, and beautiful gardens running along the East and Harlem Rivers. It provides a place of contemplation for writers, historians, poets, and others who visit the Park as a refuge from the cacophony of life in New York City.​ Travelers along the Island’s miles of waterfront pathways can experience stunning views of Manhattan, and the six bridges that span the sky and connect Randall’s Island to the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens.

This is a free event but registration is required. 

Braiding Sweetgrass Conversation Series
Wednesday Evenings from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM



Wednesday, September 15

Wednesday, October 13

Wednesday, November 10

About This Series… 

Join the Randall’s Island Literary Program as we read Braiding Sweetgrass, Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Milkweed Press, 2013). Through four programs, beginning on September 15, Elizabeth Howard will lead conversations with individuals who can help us explore this exquisite book. Dr. Kimmerer presents this book as a gift of braided stories, “meant to heal our relationship with the world” by weaving together the three strands of “indigenous ways of knowing, scientific knowledge and the story of an Anishinabek scientist trying to bring them together in service to what matters most.”

The series will begin on Wednesday, September 15 when Roger Hernandez, Jr. and Evan Pritchard share their vast knowledge about Native American communities in New York City. The following programs will include members of the RIPA staff and others who can lead us by the hand through this book as we develop further insight into indigenous culture.

About Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants 

Braiding Sweetgrass has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for sixty-three weeks, making it to the number two position in June. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In this New York Times Best Seller Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Author: Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Trippett and in 2015 addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Writer In Residence: Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth Howard, writer in residence at Randall’s Island Park, has never had barriers between her life, work, art and writing. Experience, sense of place and exploration define the choices she makes, seeking collaboration, flexibility and responsiveness in the projects she designs and engages with. As a journalist her articles related to communication and marketing have appeared in European Communications, Investor Relations, Law Firm Marketing & Profit Report, Communications Arts, Communication World, The Strategist, Board Member and the New York Law Journal, among others. Her books include: Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, reflections on growing up in New Hampshire, published by Thornwillow Press in 2011 and A Day with Bonefish Joe, published by David R. Godine, 2015. She edited Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back published by Easton Studio Press in 2016. She was the inaugural Madeleine L’Engle Fellow at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine from 2017-2020.

Guest Speakers:

Roger Hernandez, Jr.

Roger Hernandez, Jr. is an enrolled native member of the Taino Nation, born and raised in El Barrio, East Harlem, New York.  He graduated from Southampton College, Long Island University with B.A. in Environmental Sociology (1980), and Hunter College with a M.S. in Urban Planning and Community Development (1987). He serves on the Board of Directors for Taller Boricua Cultural Arts Gallery, the United Confederation of Taino People, and Presencia Taina.TV and has written and researched the Ramapough Tribe of the Lenape Nation and The United Confederation of Taino People (www.uctp.org) under a Treaty of Cooperation to complement each tribal objectives and goals. He has identified the Native American community who made the Upper East Side their summer fishing camp location in East Harlem that attracted the early Dutch settlers to establish trade relations, thus creating New Haarlem as their second outpost in New Amsterdam (NYC). Roger produces a weekly public access television show for Manhattan Network Cable.

Evan Pritchard

Evan Pritchard, of MI’kmaq descent, is the director of the Center for Algonquin Culture, Rosendale, New York. He has lectured on native studies at colleges including Vassar, Pace, Marist, Columbia University, SUNY, and several others. He is the author of over fifty books on native culture and history, including Native New Yorkers; Henry Hudson and the Algonquins (Chicago Review Press); Bird Medicine (Inner Traditions/Simon and Schuster); Native American Stories of the Sacred (Turner Books) and No Word for Time (Millichap). Pritchard has published original maps of Native American settlements in the Hudson Valley and is an occasional film maker. He frequently appears on radio stations including WBAI, and WNYC, and has been a featured guest on CNN, ABC, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and on Roger Hernandez’s 90-minute special “Touring Native New York” on Manhattan Cable.

Paul Gunther

Paul Gunther is a veteran of the New York arts and design world, joining the Gracie Mansion Conservancy after 35 years as an author, consultant, and executive in the field of historical preservation, land use, and cultural institutions. Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Gunther earned his Bachelor’s degree in Architectural and Art History from Yale. Gunther has worked as a consultant on a number of local arts and historical organizations, and has a written for professional publications on topics. Previously, Gunther served as president of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, a NYC-based national education and presenting organization dedicated to the Classical tradition. He formerly served as Vice President of the Institutional Advancement and Director of Development at the New-York Historical Society, Director of Development and American Liaison at the American Center in Paris, and the Director of Development and Public Affairs at the Municipal Art Society, and as account executive at George Trescher Associates in the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch when the agency was newly created.

Claudia Whittingham

Claudia Whittingham is a teacher and artist who is honored to support public school communities as a Restorative Justice practitioner.  Grounded in indigenous values, Restorative Practices creates spaces for people to be in community with one another.  She offers an opportunity to experience a Restorative Circle, called a connection circle, using the ideas and content of Braiding Sweetgrass.

Bookstore Locations:

A special conversation with World of Wonders author Aimee Nezhukumatathil…



A special conversation with Evan Pritchard & Roger Hernandez, Jr….



View The Braiding Sweetgrass Discussions:

A special video from Vesper Flights author Helen Macdonald…