AS THE ELECTRIFYING PERFORMER who wowed crowds at the Continental Baths, the singer who made “The Wind Beneath My Wings” a number one hit, the film actress who brought fans to tears as “The Rose” and to laughter in “The First Wives Club,“ Bette Midler achieved unquestioned cult status early in her career. She’s now extending her considerable influence to help cultivate the public park experience. As the founder and moving force of the New York Restoration Project, the Divine Miss M has become the Big Apple’s philanthropic Diva of Dirt.
Working with volunteers, community-based groups as well as public agencies, Midler and her posse have been able to show various big city departments how one determined person can help marshal volunteers to make a considerable difference for the public good.
Dismayed by trash and garbage littering public parks, Midler organized an agency to revitalize “forgotten” neighborhood parks. A dozen years later her volunteer corps has removed over 80,000 tons of garbage from project sites, reclaimed more than 400 acres of under-resourced and abandoned parkland along the banks of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers and provided free open-air recreational and environmental education programs for over 5000 urban youngsters. Thanks to Bette's best efforts, an illegal dumping ground has become the five-acre Swindler Cove Park, crowned with a Victorian-style boathouse that houses sculls and kayaks for water sports.
We talked with Bette Midler about the Divine Miss M's transformation into the city's beloved Divine Miss “Mulch.”
Click here to read the interview.