Douglas F. Monaco

Douglas F. Monaco

Multimedia Communications

Small Steps Leading to Large Change

Every so often in one’s life a movie, book or speech creeps into the subconscious, and makes a mission to camp out for an extended period of time. The terms of that period are limitless and can in fact become indefinite. Since picking up Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point in 2003, my perspective on making a difference shifted from out of control to of my own destiny and determination. In the book originally published in 2000, Gladwell goes into detail describing small scale actions engendering large scale outcomes on crime rates, the AIDS epidemic and teen smoking in the US.

It’s about being doers and showing the public that small steps lead to larger change.

I was inspired to revisit this notion of small change after Queens Courier featured a quote from me within an article on Earth Day.  As the Marketing and Communications Director of the New York City Parks non-profit group Astoria Park Alliance, I often find myself digging up analogies on small change when focusing on community outreach and membership growth.

I remain grateful for this epiphany and shift in perspective I experienced nearly 15 years ago. While metrics and analytics are more and more relevant in the age of the internet, it’s important not to get lost seeking justifications for your small steps of progress. The harder we attempt to grasp onto control within the world, the quicker it slips through our fingers in frustration.

Read the full article

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference


Augmented Reality Tree Ecology

Knowledge is the first step towards change, and there’s no better way to learn than by experiencing. With an augmented reality project in the park, curious minds will be attracted out of the home and into community meeting spaces while learning about why trees truly matter to our ecosystem.

It’s time to get started!


Astoria Park Alliance , The Glimpse Group , StudioTEKA , NYC Parks & Recreation


An educational Augmented Reality App to interact with select trees in Astoria Park that contain corresponding QR codes within NYC Parks icons. The app will illustrate a die cut of each tree that includes educational information about its age, features, species and importance related to environmental sustainability.

In dedicated areas, visitors can have the opportunity to interact with a virtual message board by carving virtual notes into the tree that can be forwarded to friends along with directions to download an app and unlock their message. Users will also be directed towards actionable steps on improving environmental conditions and links to take action.

Features: Vintage Photography, Tree Growth Animations, Social Media Interaction, NYC Parks Info

Knowledge is the first step towards change


Production by The Glimpse Group and Astoria Park volunteers.
Financed through grants, donations, sponsorships, crowdsourcing and Kickstarter.

A responsive community, engenders responsible resultsMartha Lopez Gilpin

blog-01Information tallied from the 2015 NYC Parks tree survey can be incorporated for a richer experience.

APA has experts in forestry and GIS designers who can perform professional field survey measurements to properly gather data and launch an associated web-based GIS-type interactive map feature.

NYRR Mile Markers are approved to be added to the Park, which sets a precedent for our similar QR code placement goals and adds a possibility for a wayfinding AR component

NYC Parks intends to add more wayfinding guides to Astoria Park and an augmented reality could enhance these goals.

Astoria Park has been designated as one of New York City’s five Anchor Parks, and is set to receive $30m of improvements over the next few years.

The Facts

Tree Characteristics

– Each tree ring represents one-year, a complete cycle of seasons.
– New growth in trees occurs in cell layers near the bark.
– A scar may indicate that a tree lived through a fire, an infestation of insects, or perhaps had a disease.
– A collection of wide tree rings signifies a rainy season when plenty of growth took place.
– Thin tree rings indicate a period of drought when the tree’s growth was slowed by receiving less water
– Light colored tree rings have large cells that indicate a large period of growth.
– Dark colored tree rings have smaller cells and reflect a time when the tree’s growth slowed down.
– Neighboring trees can compete with each other for the vital elements of sunlight and water.

Social Benefits

– Trees provide oxygen, improve air quality, control climate levels, conserve water, preserve soil, and support wildlife.
– City trees create a wind barrier and deflect sunlight reducing the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings.
– Trees combat air pollution that leads to asthma, coughing, headaches, respiratory and heart disease, and cancer
– During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce the oxygen we breathe.
– Trees filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.
– Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms and prevent the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding.
– Trees lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.
– Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion.
– Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil. NYC Parks annually host Christmas Tree recycling events citywide
– 99% of real estate appraisers concurred that landscaping enhances the sales appeal of real estate.

Plan of Attack

Concept 1: NYC Trees

With the CO2 levels at an all-time high, it is crucial to continue to plant trees and plant in order to keep our oxygen clean and plentiful. Using an AR App, a heat map could be generated (similar to the existing, but seldom viewed Nolli map) to show where there are and are not trees in the neighborhood of Astoria. An additional heat map could be provided for flowers, shrubbery, and herbs (Venice Example).

When a viewer is in a “hot” area, a prompt could come up to allow the viewer to order a tree or other plant.

Next Steps: This app could be developed and sponsored by the city or by local plant distributers, such as Burpee Seed. Additionally this app could be released initially to schools with an education component added (project overview) See also Urban Omnibus, Reforesting Cities (article) and IIRSA (project/problem) – Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America example)

Concept 2: Using AR/Mobil VR to Show Future NYC

Using the climate change statistics and urban planning published in “2100: A Dystopian Utopia / The City After Climate Change” an app similar to the one described in Concept 1 would show what NYC could look like in the year 2100 depending upon the choices we make now. It can be used to raise awareness of the impact of our current day practices on potential future scenarios, and be linked to actionable steps that can be taken now to limit global warming (tie in to city programs, can also tie into Energy Analysis app mentioned below). Using Astoria Park as a launch location, the app would show

• Wind Turbines combined with CO2 filtration and sequestration, Inflatable River Barriers, Storm Surge Barriers, Cause & Effect of Various Global Warming Scenarios (Six Degrees example), Storm States vs. Calm States, Sponge Parks (Gowanus Project example)

Next Steps: This could be funded by the state, NYC Council Members and/or influencers in DC. This could also be launched as a promotion for a climate awareness documentary.

Concept 3: Energy Analysis

Leveraging all the functionalities mentioned in previous concepts, an app can be developed to show energy consumption in Astoria. This app could include:

• How much energy is used (individual and neighborhood)
• How much energy could be saved if it were cultivated a different way (harnessing storm power, painting roofs white)
• What windmills would look like in the park/on the East River
• What a ConEd Infrastructure Expanse would look like/improve

Next Steps: If we designed this app in a way that shows the improvements ConEd is making as a company and as a neighborhood staple, there is potential they could help sponsor it.

* Note: If the mobile solution becomes an Astoria Park Alliance owned platform there would be interest and opportunity in later expanding it to include wayfinding, which could possibly become adapted within all NYC Parks.

Hope you enjoy this little idea!

Hormones: The Balance of a Healthy Body

I am so grateful to have learned the dangers of sugar. That knowledge finally motivated me to almost entirely eliminate sugar from my diet. Of course I was never under the impression that sugar was beneficial, though also never really compelled to give it up.

The thing that tipped the scales for me was a fascinating book I read called The Perfect 10 Diet by Manhattan internist, Dr. Michael Aziz. We established a working business relationship, and I was featured as a success story on national television.

Although the title conjures up images of Bo Derek, it really isn’t about achieving the perfect 10 body. It’s really about the 10 key hormones in our body and how to regulate them perfectly.

I’m talking about hormones like the sex hormones: estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. Then there’s cortizol, which is activated by stress and leads to dangerous belly fat. There are hormones like thyroid, human growth hormone, DHEA, leptin and the one that gets so much attention: insulin.

When our hormones are balanced we feel great and behave accordingly. Among other things, we eat sensibly.

Keeping steady insulin levels is so important. They usually go out of whack when we eat sugar and refined carbohydrates, which to your body is the same thing as sugar. They cause our insulin levels to spike, which leads to a desire for more of the same food, which leads to weight gain.

Sugar and refined carbs are incredibly addictive. The more you have, the more you want, and it takes increasingly larger amounts to satisfy. Exaggerated insulin levels cause a sugar crash, too, which feels awful. It’s a miserable roller-coaster ride. I highly recommend getting off!

I went cold turkey after my interview with Dr. Aziz. I will admit, however, that I had a craving for sugars and refined carbohydrates for about four days. I would satisfy that craving with fruit until the craving went away and it worked like a charm.

Here’s how to get sugar out of your diet. First, check the labels of foods you eat and make sure there’s no sugar in the list of ingredients. Also make sure there isn’t any high fructose corn syrup or any ingredient ending in “ose,” like dextrose or glucose, and don’t eat any ingredient that has the word “syrup.”

Once you do that, you will notice there are about three or four items in the entire grocery store that don’t contain some type of sugar. Seriously, I thought I was doing great by buying 100 percent whole wheat bread until I looked at the label and noticed high fructose corn syrup in the bread! It’s also in pasta sauce! It’s everywhere!

Another way to get rid of sugars is to eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet, which is just about as challenging as getting rid of sugars because they are in just about everything. At least you can see them. They are white: white flour, white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc.

The good news is their whole wheat counterparts are a magnificent substitution.

By getting rid of sugars and refined carbohydrates your insulin levels will remain nice and stead and you will feel much better…the way you should!

Visit Video Source
Visit Webpage

Male Anorexia On The Rise

How to Detect, and How to Treat

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, more than a million men and boys battle eating disorders; 40% of binge eaters are men and anorexia affects 1 male for every 3 females. The term “manorexia” was coined in stories of male celebrities rumored to have the disorder, others such as Dennis Quaid and Elton John have admitted to bouts of bulimia and anorexia.

But it’s not simply a celebrity or model trend. Studies have reported that today 25% of eating disorder sufferers are men; in 1990, it was 10%.

While most people understand the prevalence of eating disorders in females, few recognize that males suffer from the same disorders. One reason for the lack of attention to this is that these disorders are easily masked or misdiagnosed in men. While females often use extreme dieting as a gateway into an eating disorder, which can draw suspicion from family and friends, males are more likely to fixate on exercise, which may appear deceptively healthy.

“A guy who works out two or three hours a day may be regarded as ‘into fitness,’ and won’t raise the same red flags as a woman who refuses to eat,” says Dr. Michael Aziz, a New York City physician and author of The Perfect 10 Diet. “Another factor that complicates the identification and diagnosis of male eating disorders is the fact that the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders are designed for women. For example, amenorrhea, the loss of menstrual period, is often a result of anorexia in women.”

The DSM-IV, which is used for diagnosis of psychiatric issues including eating disorders, has limited clinical utility for doctors. Also male patients rarely seek help and in most cases deny having an eating disorder due to shame.

Dr. Aziz is available to answer questions about the rise of this disorder among men, including:

Why male eating disorders are on the rise 

No one knows for sure why the numbers have increased so much, but several factors could be contributing to the rise. For one, men may finally be feeling the pressure of physical perfection that women have been dealing with for decades. With every image of a thin female in the media, there is a man with chiseled abs and a super-lean physique. Even if they don’t want to admit it, some men feel pressure either from within or from society to achieve the same lean, muscular look.

Another contributor is a man’s inability to share his feelings. Women have been discussing their body-image issues for years. Men are often too embarrassed to admit they suffer from similar issues. Now we are seeing more and more men open up about their struggle with physical perfection.

The dangers of anorexia

Anorexia causes loss of body fat then muscle mass, disturbance in hormones, suppressed immunity, heart failure, and if not treated, eventually death.

How to identify a man with anorexia

It’s not easy. Family members and friends are usually the first to recognize the problem and the first to help.  You may start to notice an increase in fatigue, a sudden change in diet, irritability, and then, of course, a physical change. If suspected, professional help will give a definitive diagnosis in order to rule out a medial problem that might be causing the weight loss.

Treatment for the disorder

Professional psychiatric help is the first step. Sometimes, drug addictions or depression are also present and have to be addressed.