BK Greens Newsletter_Fall2011
Brooklyn Greens Newsletter
Brooklyn Community Foundation

El Puente
        "Aqui nos mantenemos unidos. Here we stand united.” On September 16th El Puente and the community of Los Sures celebrated the official launch of the Green Light District with music, dance, food, public art, and a community declaration outlining a safe, healthy, affordable, just and sustainable neighborhood. 

The launch, held in the Espiritu Tierra Community Garden, was the culmination of a year of community empowerment, building a base of supporters and volunteers to carry out the work over the next ten years. About 300 community members attended, including students from the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice; representatives from local partner organizations such as Southside United HDFC, First Spanish Presbyterian Church, Nuestros Ninos Day Care, PS 84, MS 50 and the offices of City Councilwoman Diana Reyna and U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

Additionally, street banners designed by young artists were unveiled announcing “Bienvenidos a La Comunidad de Los Sures,” or “Welcome to the Community of the Southside.” These banners are part of a strategy to brand the Southside as a Latino community with rich traditions, culture, and history in this neighborhood.

El Puente

  BSRC On October 21st Restoration recognized the Hancock Street Community Block Association for its outstanding performance in Retrofit Bed Stuy Block by Block, an initiative in partnership with Pratt Center that connects homeowners and tenants with free or low-cost energy assessments and energy upgrades to reduce energy use, utility bills, and carbon emissions.

Richelle Burnette, the Block Association President, was presented with a $500 check to further beautify Hancock Street between Patchen and Stuyvesant. According to Ms. Burnette, the “partnership with Retrofit Bed Stuy Block by Block
       has helped us to revitalize and strengthen our Block Association. This Program is bigger than the energy assessment; it is about gaining a sense of what is going on in your own home, knowing what needs to be done, and having an awareness that is priceless.”

Restoration is working with block leadership to address other greening efforts, from having planters installed to establishing a community garden. According to Rachael Dubin, Restoration’s Manager of Environmental & Sustainability Initiatives, “our sustainability efforts aim to make Bedford Stuyvesant a cleaner and greener community, while in the process, creating jobs for local residents.”

Over 200 community members of Cypress Hills and East New York came together to re-envision the way these neighborhoods look, feel and work at the very successful Verde Summit, an inclusive, bi-lingual community planning event. The summit was kicked off on October 21st by Amanda Burden, the NYC Planning Commissioner, David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and Toya Williford from the Brooklyn Community Foundation. This evening reception featured an art installation designed to present the results of CHLDC and Pratt Center’s 623-person community survey related to quality of life and sustainability issues.

On October 22nd, CHLDC, assisted by the Pratt Center, led residents, staff, businesses and other community leaders and outside experts through exercises to tackle challenges and opportunities related to housing, jobs, food, transportation, vacant lots, health, wellness and safety. Residents of all ages came together and built beautiful models representing solutions and aspirations for specific geographic areas in the neighborhoods. CHLDC and the Pratt Center will have further community meetings resulting in a draft Brownfield Opportunities Area Plan in Spring 2012. Both the survey and summit showed that CHLDC/ENY residents strongly desire: functional, safe open spaces and community facilities, activities for youth, access to transportation and healthy food, and more involvement from community members. The information gathered at the summit will be used to develop implementation plans to make improvements in the neighborhood.
Verde Summit Images

Pratt Center
     Pratt Center Graduate Fellow, Ana Fisyak, shares her Verde Summit experience:
                             Ana F The Summit has become a beacon in my mind to the conversations of inclusive, informative, and democratic processes. I saw the process that makes so many city agencies and developers nervous done with grace and respect. Giant hurdles were no longer giant hurdles once everyone came together and language barriers were melted away. The residents took care to envision the potential of Cypress Hills, the potential of which they are the solid foundation. The Verde Summit was an incredible credit to the participation of local residents, to CHLDC, and to the hard work of those involved in its planning. I left the summit with an unbelievable high.

About Brooklyn Greens
        Brooklyn Greens, an initiative of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, supports a bottom-up approach to making NYC’s neighborhoods more sustainable. In partnership with the Pratt Center, three of New York City’s community development corporations are developing and implementing strategies to green their Brooklyn neighborhoods: El Puente in Southside Williamsburg, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.   Through a powerful combination of education, participatory planning, community organizing, and weatherization to advance energy efficiency, each organization will improve environmental quality, safety and public health and increase  employment opportunities.

BK Greens Logos

       www.prattcenter.net   www.elpuente.us   www.cypresshills.org   www. restorationplaza.org   www.prattcenter.net/brooklyn-greens
                                        Generous support provided by the Brooklyn Community Foundation

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Pratt Center for Community Development
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