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Brooklyn Greens is an initiative of the Brooklyn Community Foundation that supports community development groups in three north Brooklyn neighborhoods. They have joined forces with the Pratt Center to improve their respective environments through a powerful combination of education, participatory planning, community organizing, and weatherization to advance energy efficiency.
El Puente in Southside Williamsburg, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation have each committed to an ambitious strategy to shrink the areas' carbon footprints, to use environmental improvement to create employment opportunities, and to make environmental sustainability a core value in local culture.
Why Green Brooklyn?
Many residents in the initiative's three participating neighborhoods struggle with a debilitating combination of high poverty, high unemployment, and unhealthy home and street environments. Buildings with leaky building shells and inefficiently run heating systems consume far more energy than they need to, burdening households with rising energy costs.
Drafty buildings with poor indoor air quality also take a toll on Brooklynites' health: Bedford Stuyvesant, Cypress Hills, and Williamsburg have Brooklyn's highest rates of children's emergency room visits for asthma. And a shortage of public green spaces and the presence of heavily trafficked roads contribute to poor air quality.
To help improve the environmental health of these neighborhoods, each group has committed to:
- Organize and lead a participatory planning process to assess the neighborhood environment and plan for a sustainable future. (See how a similar process worked in Jackson Heights, Queens.)
- Increase the number of weatherized and energy-efficient homes, businesses, and institutions in a comprehensive block-by-block approach. (Learn more about Retrofit NYC Block by Block.)
- Support the development of a green-collar workforce by training community residents, and create new green-collar jobs for them to fill.
- Spur other efforts to green the community, by improving community gardens, planting trees, and taking other measures.
- Educate and organize community members to improve and protect their environment, changing individual behaviors while also facilitating collective action.
Each group is also pursuing strategies tailored to unique neighborhood needs and organizational assets. Listed below is a small sample of the many current activities:
In addition to bringing energy efficiency upgrades to existing residences and other buildings -- including its own offices -- Cypress Hills LDC is building more than 100 new units of affordable, green rental housing. Cypress Hills LDC is also conducting a Community Satisfaction Survey to assess residents’ concerns in four topic areas: Living, Working, Eating and Learning. The results of this survey will be used to plan the Cypress Hills Verde Summit on October 21-22.
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration will launch a new retrofit and handiman business for the purpose of creating jobs and upgrading homes for neighborhood residents. Bed Stuy Restoration is also developing partnerships to advance greening initiatives such as tree planting and increasing community garden participation.
As part of its "Green Light District" initiative, El Puente is developing a Wellness Assessment and Action Tool. The Green Line Wellness Indicators will allow community members to determine their individual progress towards wellness and sustainability; and provide them with tailored resources to address identified strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, Pratt Center is assisting the groups in creating a collaborative environment by facilitating information sharing between groups. A Brooklyn Greens logo has been created and a newsletter is under development to strengthen the cohesive nature of the Brooklyn Greens initiative. Additionally, an environmental baseline analysis is currently being performed by Pratt Center that will allow the groups to compare and track their progress towards sustainability.