Introducing our Social Impact Experience: Sustainable Harlem Tour
We are excited to announce the launch of our first Harlem based Social Impact Tour. This social impact experience will allow travelers and companies to connect with local organizations that do good in Harlem. On this tour guests are able to support hyper-local, community-based organizations and learn about the movements and people behind them, while experiencing Harlem on an authentic level.
We are thrilled to be partnering with some amazing community organizations in Harlem to bring this tour to life! Read on to learn a little bit about the fantastic organizations that have come together to make this tour possible!
Altovise of Lady Altovise Tours
No tour is possible without a stellar tour guide, and we are so glad to bring Altovise onboard as our local expert tour guide. Altovise has over 20 years of experience guiding in NYC, and has called Harlem home since she first moved to the city. “I was drawn to Harlem in the 6th grade at Eastdale Elementary in Chattanooga, TN in Mrs. Strickland’s homeroom class. She made us all learn a Langston Hughes poem. Mine was ” Mother to Son”. Little did I know… my family had been quoting this poem all of my life!”
Altovise has a crafty and creative way of combining history, sports, the Arts, cuisine, architecture, fashion, nature and pop culture which enables her to zero in on each of her client’s specific areas of interest. A quintessential Southern Belle from Chattanooga, TN her personality shines. She graduated from these illustrious halls of Brainerd High, in the super class of 92. She proudly takes a BIG bite out of the BIG Apple on a daily basis! She holds a BS degree in Speech Communications with an emphasis in Theatre & Voice from her beloved Tennessee State University, where she is the current President of the Alumni Association for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Chapters.
She made history by becoming the first person to ever earn a Minor Degree from TSU’s celebrated Dance Department under the direction of the one and only, Judy F. Gentry. After graduating TSU, she attended the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) on Broadway in NYC. She is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association. On a weekly basis, she can be found hosting fundraisers directly benefiting scholars from the Tri-State Metro NY Area attending prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities all across in the United States of America.
When she’s not guiding with Like A Local, you can find her sharing her passion for the neighborhood on her “History of Gospel Music in Harlem Tour”.
When asked what she is most excited to share with guests on the Sustainable Harlem Social Impact Experience she replied, “The one place I MUST show people on my tour is the African Drum Circle. The one thing I want folks to understand about Harlem is the African Drummers circle. Why… you simply MUST take the tour to find out. There’s no other way to explain it.”
Green & Blue Eco Care
When you think of New York, you might not think of gardens, green spaces and pollinators, but Simone Marques of Green & Blue Eco Care is hopeful she can change your mind. Simone, who is originally from Brazil, moved to New York City over 15 years ago. Missing the lush greenery she grew up in, she decided to start making the spaces around her feel a bit more like home. Simone enjoyed volunteering with the parks department for larger projects, but branched out on her own with some “guerilla gardening”. Rather than waiting for the perfect gardening opportunities she took to the streets and started creating small gardens at the base of the trees along the streets near her home. She quickly realized that these trees played such a vital role in the beatification of her neighborhood- and became a tree steward!
These days Simone works hard with volunteers to clean up tree pits, plant new street trees along East Harlem, and has established a pollinator garden in Jefferson Park. She also works with volunteers to facilitate street clean ups and educates all on the importance of green spaces even among the urban jungle of New York City.
We are excited to learn from Simone, and to do our part in aiding with street clean ups along the tour route.
It’s hard to know a neighborhood without getting a literal taste of the place! That’s why we’ve partnered with FIELDTRIP to bring the flavors of Harlem to this tour. FIELDTRIP is a community-focused rice bowl shop that celebrates culture through the shared experience of rice. James Beard Award Winner, Chef JJ Johnson founded FIELDTRIP, as a way to celebrate and highlight global flavors and techniques used within various cultures with the common thread being rice. Rice bowls are paired with ethically sourced and often locally sourced ingredients.
At the start of COVID, like all NYC restaurants, FIELDTRIP shuttered their doors to the public. But they didn’t rest, they found new and innovative ways to stay busy and give back to the community. Through generous contributions they were able to provide healthy bowls to frontline workers across New York City. These workers included doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, EMS, DOE employees, families at Ronald McDonald House and so much more. As the need for frontline worker meals dwindled, the company pivoted to a new piece of the community in need.
“During the summer months while activities were limited for the youth, our focus expanded to our community service efforts addressing the food insecurities and lack of access to healthy meal options. Our main concern is children and families in need won’t have the ability to retrieve groceries and hot meals nor the proper nourishment. With FIELDTRIP’s main focus on feeding the community’s youth, we were able to partner with Madison Boys and Girls Club as well as Head Start North Bronx to make this an impactful initiative.” – FIELDTRIP Feed, the community focused initiative.
For every $8 purchased one child will receive a hot rice bowl and for every $40 purchased a family will receive three rice bowls and a produce box containing a supply of cookable items for one week.
We can’t wait for guests to experience the delicious bowls at FIELDTRIP, and hope we will make regular customers out of each guest!
Sustainable Fashion Community Center
The NYC Fair Trade Coalition is a coalition of like minded organizations and members who come together with the goal of providing equal access to sustainable, fair trade ideas.
The Sustainable Fashion Community Center (SFCC) is the culmination of the Coalition’s work and a space to bring the efforts to life. SFCC partners with ethically-aligned businesses, retailers, NGOs, and citizens in New York City to host events and engage the public in dialogue. It offers its members advertising support through its social media channels, coordinates sales events, and fosters networking among ethical and fair trade businesses.
SFCC located in East Harlem, hosts a two-floor retail space that serves as a clothing recycling center, a member-led pop-up, and a safe space for gathering, sharing, and educating. We are thrilled to be able to bring guests into this space for a behind the scenes tour of the space, a chance to shop the makers market, and the opportunity to pitch in and help sort some of the clothing donations SFCC receives! Guests on our tour can even bring their own items they wish to donate!
We had a conversation with Andrea Reyes, the Events Chair of NYC Fair Trade Coalition, about her work with SFCC, and her experience with the sustainable fashion movement. Read on to learn more:
How did you get your start with NYC Fair Trade Coalition, and what is your role with SFCC?
The NYC Fair Trade Coalition started as a loosely affiliated networking group. I became a member in 2013 via my social enterprise A. Bernadette. In 2016 I was asked to become the chairwoman, a position I hold to this day. I help the NYC FTC become a 501(c)3, grew the members from 20 to 200 and opened our first physical location in 2019. The current SFCC opened its doors in 2021.
What is your favorite thing about the SFCC?
First response the plant room with dreamy eyes but digging deeper, the positive vibe. You walk in and everyone greets you, asks you how your day is going, and genuinely wants to connect.
How does SFCC promote sustainability?
We collect clothing donations of all qualities. Every bag is weighed and the data is send to the Department of Sanitation. Swappers can then pick up to 10 pieces for $15. We offer a variety of sizes, styles, for all people. We believe this simple model starts many on their path to learning more about sustainability, conscious consumption, and the power of community.
What action items can people start implementing in their lives to make their fashion consumption more sustainable?
Citizens can start by watching documentaries like The True Cost, River Blue, and The Story of Stuff. Learning where our items come from, how they are made, who made them, and what happens to them after they are used is the first step in taking responsibility and then holding large stakeholders like corporations responsible for their part in changing this wasteful system.
We can’t wait to launch this new Social Impact Experience in Harlem!
It has become evident how vital Social Impact Tourism will be for the future of travel. The responsible traveler today visits a place in order to get to know its people, culture and history. Social Impact Tourism promises to be an important part of our future as travelers and consumers – not only because it helps us travel more sustainably but also because it provides us with an opportunity to experience something new every time we go on vacation or take a trip somewhere outside our hometowns.
Ready to book? We offer this tour once monthly, the first Friday of the month 11am-3pm. Use code HARLEM for 15% off your ticket! Click here to book!