Randall’s Island Park Alliance

Literary Program

To bring the Park closer to you, the Randall’s Island Park Alliance has launched a free Literary Club! Join the inaugural meeting where we will be introducing this exciting new program by discussing Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald as well as interesting facts about the Island’s natural areas and the diverse wildlife that call the Park home.

Set along the New York City skyline, Randall’s Island Park, with miles of green space and expansive views of the Harlem and East Rivers, offers a retreat for contemplative reflection and a welcoming creative space. The Island, with its woodland stumpery and beautiful gardens, is a landscape for natural exploration for writers, historians, poets and others who visit the Park as a refuge from the cacophony of life in New York City.​ See you at the Park… virtually!

This is a free event but registration is required. 

Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Book Club Meeting Dates: January 14, January 28, February 11 and February 25


Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald is one of the ten best books on the New York Times best books of the year and on the More Than 25 best books of the Year as well as winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction and the Costa Book of the Year!

Vespers Flights is a literary cabinet of curiosities about the wonders and oddities of the natural world. It collects the award-winning Helen Macdonald’s best-loved pieces together with new essays on topics ranging from nostalgia for the countryside of her youth to a true account of a refugee’s flight to the UK.

Many of the essays here are exercises interrogating… human ascriptions and assumptions. Most of all I hope my work is about a thing that seems to me of the deepest possible importance in our present-day historical moment: finding ways to recognize and love difference. The attempt to see through eyes that are not your own. To understand that your way of looking at the world is not the only one. To rejoice in the complexity of things.” Helen Macdonald

Moderator: 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.

Speaker: Christopher Girgenti

Chris Girgenti is an environmental professional with over a decade of environmental restoration experience and programming in the NYC area. He has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He currently serves as the Natural Areas Manager for the Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA), where he oversees the Waterfront Stewardship and Park-as-Lab programs. The Waterfront Stewardship Program received EPA Region 2’s Environmental Champion award in 2017 for its environmental education programming. In addition to K-12 education and public programming for all ages, RIPA also manages 20 acres of restored natural areas on Randall’s Island, including salt marshes, forest and meadow systems, a freshwater wetland, and 4.5 miles of coastline to support ecosystem services and wildlife. RIPA’s recently-launched Park-as-Lab program works to facilitate community-based environmental research in the Park and surrounding areas, emphasizing integrating local communities at all phases of research.

Speaker: Andrew Farnsworth

Andrew Farnsworth is a Senior Research Associate in the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Andrew began birding at age 5 in Rye, NY and quickly developed his long-standing fascinations with bird migration. His current research focuses on use and application of rapidly advancing technologies to study bird movements across scales including weather surveillance radar, audio and video recording and monitoring tools, citizen science datasets, and machine learning. Andrew received his BS in Natural Resources from Cornell, MS in Zoology from Clemson University, and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University. He lives in Manhattan with his wife Patricia and two daughters Aja and Elle.

Bookstore Locations: