New Yorkers will tell you they would literally kill for a bit of outdoor space. Parks and community gardens are a precious commodity in this town, and a lifeline to stressed hot city dwellers both young and old. Luckily the Big Apple has a seed-planting superhero in the one and only Bette Midler, who hosted a perfect summer evening picnic in East Harlem at one of the sites she helped rescue, and partied with Debbie Harry and Michael Kors and a room of generous benefactors.
Miss M. started the New York Restoration Project in 1995 with a goal to nurture and protect green spaces in low-income areas of all five boroughs. “NYRP bought 52 plots from Mayor Guiliani, most of which had squatter gardens since the seventies. He was going to put them up for sale to developers, which I thought was unacceptable and I bought all 52.” Along with executive director Deborah Marton and a truly dedicated staff, they are finishing up the last of the 52 spaces this year. “It’s been tough man,” she sighs, “but so worth it.
But does Earth Mother Bette have a green thumb? “Oh lord no,” she admits. “I have a black thumb, a good eye but no talent! The poor plants are like I wish she’d go away, but I like to get my hands and feet in the dirt, it is very very therapeutic.” And does she have any gardening advice for beleaguered EPA chief Scott Pruitt? “Haha oh you’re trying to catch me! I would say to Mr. Pruitt to listen to people who know things. The people of Oklahoma have been subjected to an unbelievable amount of earthquakes due to fracking, and he doesn't seem to care. He’s built his whole policy on ignorance and arrogance, which is a deadly combination.”
When not saving the planet, Bette is planning her return to her Tony-winning run in Hello Dolly, in which she will play the last month of shows before it closes on August 25. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m gonna close it out. See you there!” Don’t miss the divine Miss M in all her radiant glory.
Make a donation to the New York Restoration Project here.