2007 was the first fully operation year for Sustainable Flatbush, and I must say we accomplished a lot. Starting with our Kickoff Meeting on March 16th at Vox Pop Cafe/Bookstore, the goal was to find people in the neighborhood who wanted to work on sustainability issues locally. To my amazement, 25 people braved a blizzard to attend this event, and we had a great discussion where some common interests and goals were defined. (Full disclosure: to boost attendance I scheduled this event one week after my birthday and combined it with a party… but at least half the people there were new faces to me!)
For our second event we celebrated Bike Month with a program of Streetfilms (curated by yours truly) and a guest appearance by their creator Clarence Eckerson. In keeping with our theme of overcoming weather challenges, Clarence’s flight from the West Coast was delayed by severe rains and while waiting for him we conducted a discussion on Congestion Pricing with Livable Streets luminaries Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives and Aaron Naparstek of Streetsblog. Clarence’s honorarium was a vegan cupcake.
Event #3, an Urban Permaculture Lecture with former Flatbush residents Wilton Duckworth and Joan Ewing of Green Phoenix, packed Vox Pop with permaculture enthusiasts who exchanged ideas on how to apply this sustainable design practice to city living.
Then we worked with Lower East Side Ecology Center to create the first e-waste recycling event south of Prospect Park: Cortelyou Road Electronics Recycling diverted a truck full of discarded technology (and its accompanying toxins) from the landfill. Many thanks to Christina Datz-Romero for her pioneering work to make New York City more sustainable through LESEC’s recycling and composting programs, and for helping me stake out the perfect spot to park the big red dumpster.
In July we teamed up with the Green Edge Collective for Event #4, Eating Sustainably: a meetup and discussion on Sustainable Food. The Green Edge ladies, known for their Eco-Eatery tours and Supper Club community potlucks, kept the discussion lively as topics ranged from healthy food shopping to plastic bags to the environmental implications of consumption. Lots of food for thought (ouch).
I spent most of August on the West Coast, playing music, visiting family, and touring Oregon’s Willamette Valley by bicycle with a group of sustainability-minded vegans. Who knew quinoa was such a useful grain?
We started Autumn off right by participating in the neighborhood’s biggest street festival, the Flatbush Frolic, with a table full of materials promoting recycling. Eve Martinez from the Department of Sanitation’s NYC WasteLess program brought her full compliment of recycling stickers, brochures, posters, and fridge magnets. (What’s a street fair without fridge magnets?) We got to know our neighbors and I scored my new favorite T-shirt.
On September 21st Park(ing) Day was celebrated all over New York City, the U.S., and Planet Earth… including right here in Flatbush. We occupied a parking space and created a park for the day, complete with real grass, trees, a bench, art supplies, live music… and lots of people, especially kids! (See photo above.) Naturally Streetfilms covered this event, and Cortelyou Road Park is featured in their piece… check it out! This event’s special thanks go to Lindsey Lusher of Transportation Alternatives, who coordinated resources and information for almost two dozen sites all over NYC, and especially to Keka Marzagão, without whom Cortelyou Road Park simply would not have been possible! In addition to providing every possible form of support (moral, creative, physical), Keka insisted that we have real grass, which provided endless wonderment and joy to everyone who visited our park.
Okay, so in October we recuperated. By November we were ready to kick off a whole new level of activities with our Town Hall Meeting. 25 people attended (our magic number, perhaps!), and six committees were established, each with specific goals and projects. We are now holding monthly meetings where newcomers can get involved and committees report on their plans. 2008 already looks exciting, with the R3 Committee’s Post-Holiday Electronics Recycling Event coming up this weekend, the Gardening Committee planning a Spring event in conjunction with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Livable Streets Committee working on a Transportation Conference with Center for the Study of Brooklyn and Transportation Alternatives.
That’s the news for 2007. Much much more to come…
Special Thanks (in order of appearance):
Keka Marzagão (website/logo design, photos, VJ, chief co-instigator)
Jeff Duneman (DJ Drummerman, groove provider for Events #1-3)
Sander Hicks and the staff of Vox Pop
Cacao Arcoverde and Ileana Santamaria (musical magic for Event #3)
Susan Siegel and everyone at Flatbush Development Corporation
Clarence Eckerson and all at Streetfilms
Christina Datz-Romero (Lower East Side Ecology Center)
Carolyn Gilles and the Green Edge Collaborative
Lindsey Lusher (Transportation Alternatives)
Eve Martinez (NYC Department of Sanitation)
Mark Levy (host of Sustainable Flatbush Mothership)
Chris Kreussling (Flatbush Gardener)
Eli Kramer (Brooklyn Junction blog)
Gretchen Maneval (Center for the Study of Brooklyn)
Cycleliciousness blog (inspiration for a bike-friendly NYC)
The Flatbush community for supporting our green future
Brooklyn bloggers for setting high standards of journalism, neighborhood pride, and humor
YOU… for reading