Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make 2009 A Green Year

New Year’s resolutions. We all make them, then we all don’t keep them. Well, some of us might, but not many. Maybe they’re too big and overwhelming to keep or too small to remember. Or maybe we make New Year’s resolutions that usually only affect ourselves, so there aren’t consequences if we don’t keep them.

2009 is a new beginning — we have a new president and many are optimistic for positive change. But Barack Obama has a big job ahead of him. The economy, the war and taxes aside, he faces innumerable challenges with the current environmental crisis. And even though it’s a cliché, he needs our help.

So this year, why not make New Year’s resolutions for the environment? It may sound like an idea that’s too big and impossible. But it doesn’t have to be big and it is possible (see story below). Here are some options:

— If you know you’re not good at keeping resolutions, some time this week or next, replace one light bulb in your home with an Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulb. B&G Hardware in Williamsburg sells them, so call your local hardware store and check. They use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs (energys tar.com), so you can replace one and probably forget about
it for the rest of the year. It will save you money and conserve energy.

— Decorate your home with a snake plant, spider plant, gerbera daisy (right), Christmas cactus or a rubber plant. It will not only look pretty all year long — it will also remove toxins from the air so you can breathe healthier.

— Purchase one or two canvas tote bags. Store them in your car if you have one, or fold them up small enough to fit in your purse or even your coat pocket. If you have a reusable bag with you at all times, you don’t have to worry about collecting more plastic bags that take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

— And if you’re up for a commitment, resolve to recycle. It will keep bottles, cans and paper out of our landfills.

— Or, if you’re feeling generous, visit carbonfund.org and purchase carbon offsets. You can replace the carbon footprint generated from the day-to-day activities at your home, or after you’ve taken a vacation.

So this year, make a green resolution. It doesn’t have to be big, and it doesn’t have to involve much energy (pun intended). If everyone made just one green change, imagine the impact it would have.

Daisy image courtesy of Dez Pain

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do You Have 'Bagnesia'?


A comment on this blog alerted me to the website bagnesia.com. The site sells reusable bags (pictured here) that fold up to measure 4" by 2", so you can store them almost anywhere. Also available is a "reminder kit" and produce bags.

Thanks, Alanis!


Image courtesy of bagnesia.com


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Monday, December 29, 2008

Conserving Water: A Green Tip

If you knew how much water you were using, would you use as much?

Here's a good way to find out: the next time you're brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or doing the dishes in the sink, close the drain so the water fills up in the sink. If you see how much water is building up, maybe you'll use less.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

NY Times Bestselling Author Visits Brooklyn School


Deirdre Imus, bestselling author of the "Green This!" series of books, visited PS 54 to guide students on how to reduce health effects in the everyday environment and lead healthier lifestyles.

Imus held a question and answer session with fourth- and fifth-grade students, introdu
cing them to environmental issues, making them aware of environmental health hazards they may face in their everyday lives and encouraging them to practice healthy habits that will ensure their own wellness and the wellness of their families.

At the end of the session, the children presented Imus with a handwritten book summarizing answers to her questions and each received a packet from the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology with helpful green tips to use at home.

Founder of the Deirdre Imus Environmental center for Pediatric Oncology at the Hackensack University Medical Center, Imus was brought to the school by Communications Consultant Leslie Yerman of Leslie J. Yerman Communications, who is partnered with the school through the nonprofit organization PENCIL.

PENCIL builds and supports customized relationships between business leaders and principals to inspire innovative solutions to the challenges facing New York City public schools.

Photos of Imus with the students courtesy of the Marino Organization

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Monday, December 22, 2008

What to Do With Those Plastic Bags

Here's your dilemma: Since you heard about plastic grocery bags sitting in landfills for up to an estimated 1,000 (!) years, you've switched to a canvas tote. But you still have tons of plastic bags kept in a larger plastic bag under your sink (or in your closet). And sometimes you forget to bring a reusable tote and take home a few more. Other times you (gasp!) throw one or two away because what on earth can you do with so many plastic bags?!

If this is you, you're not alone. I myself have a box full of plastic bags, some of which are three years old. So, thinking that readers might also have this problem, I Googled "what to do with plastic bags," and found some ideas. The obvious is to find a plastic bag recycling bin at your local grocery store, but this could pose a problem, because some types of plastic can't be recycled with others.

I also found several websites dedicated to craft projects made out of plastic bags. Some crafters fuse plastic bags together by ironing them, then sew those into totes, jewelry, jackets, dresses...etc. But melting and fusing plastic releases fumes that may or may not be toxic. I can't see how they could be very good for you or the environment.

Other crafters cut their plastic bags into strips and knit or crochet with them. If you know how to knit or crochet, I think this is the project for you. I searched through some sites and found a basic and easy pattern (because who wants to devote tons of time on a complicated pattern for knitting plastic bags?) and you can find it here.

If you don't know how to knit and desperately want to knit up your plastic bags, here's a step-by-step video from youtube.

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Last Week's Third Thursday A Success

Every month, the Center for the Urban Environment holds a "Third Thursday" event, on the third Thursday of the month for a discussion about the environment and today's issues. Last Thursday the discussion was about water. Guests were invited to see what they really know about the future of New York City’s waterfront. 'City of Water,' a new documentary by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and the Municipal Art Society was shown. MWA President Roland Lewis and filmmaker Jasper Goldman talked about how the documentary tackled issues of development and access to the waterfront head-on. Two years in the making, 'City of Water' explores the aspirations of public officials, environmentalists, academics, community activists, recreational boaters and everyday New Yorkers for a diverse, vibrant waterfront at a time when the shoreline is changing faster than at any other time in New York’s history.

For more information, visit www.thecue.org.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bensonhurst Resident Contributes to 'Green' Book


If you’re like me, watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth made you a little depressed. And hearing all the scientific reports about global warming makes you a little discouraged and overwhelmed. If it’s so bad, how can we possibly make a difference, right?

Well, not really. It is possible to change the course of the environmental crisis, maybe even stop it completely. And it doesn’t have to be that hard. Imagine if every person in this country started recycling his or her bottles and cans. Or if every person replaced just one light bulb in his or her house with another, more energy efficient one. The results might prove us wrong.

This is the point of a new book released by Hatherleigh Press, entitled You Can Save the Earth: 7 Reasons Why & 7 Simple Ways. A collaborative effort by several publishers, editors and writers who work at Hatherleigh — based in Long Island City — one of the editors who worked closest on the book is from Brooklyn.

Anna Krusinski has lived in Bensonhurst for three years. A recent graduate of Hunter college, Krusinski has always been an environmental activist: “I’m kind of a pain in the butt about recycling,” she laughed. “I’m passionate about it.”

So working at Hatherleigh ... read more

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not Just Clownin’ Around On Controversial Bike Lane

Environmental Groups, Cyclists Face Opposition in Williamsburg


A group of “bicycle clowns” showed up on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg yesterday morning to defend their turf — the new two-way, 1.5-mile bike lane the city installed this past fall.

The lane raised the ire of non-cyclists in the community when “No Stopping” signs accompanied the freshly painted paths. There is now no legal curbside parking along a 20-block stretch of the largely industrial waterfront road, a subtraction of approximately 256 parking spaces, according to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) web site.

The colorfully clad demonstrators yesterday were from the environmental group Time’s Up. They say they’re defending the bike lane against threats from a group of vocal opponents, made up at least partially of members of the neighborhood’s Hasidic community, who have reportedly objected to the “immodesty” of the hipster cyclists.

Some opponents have even threatened to block the bike lanes with private school buses, a Time’s Up press release said, which would endanger cyclists by forcing them out into the middle of the road.

But bicycle clown Ben Shepherd reported that yesterday’s theatrical defense of cycling was ... read more

Story by Phoebe Neidl, photo by Clarissa Roudabush

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CCNY and EPA Sign Memorandum to Build Long-Term Recruitment and Educational Relationship

The Eagle received this press release:

The City College of New York (CCNY) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding calling for increased cooperation between the College and

EPA’s Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response (OSWER) and Region 2.

The Memorandum, which runs for five years and is renewable, aims to build a long-term recruitment and educational relationship that will achieve three goals:

— Bringing qualified employees into EPA's workforce.
— Promoting positive awareness for the agency's work.
— Facilitating information and technology transfer from EPA to CCNY to assist in curriculum development and foster an exchange of ideas with faculty.

“This memorandum opens the door to exciting new opportunities for City College students and faculty to participate in and benefit from EPA’s programs, and it is a ringing endorsement of our success in preparing
students from diverse backgrounds for science and technology-related careers,” said CCNY President Dr. Gregory H. Williams at a signing ceremony held in his office.

“As we strive to become a leader in environmental education, our new relationship with EPA will help us enrich our curriculum and play a greater role in addressing the environmental challenges that confront our city, our nation and the world.”

“The environmental challenges we face today and into the future require a workforce that is well-educated, dedicated to the cause and ready for action," said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator.

The programs covered under the Memorandum will help EPA carry out the President’s Management Agenda as it relates to strategic management of human capital through the use of innovative and progressive recruitment tools. Specifically, it addresses a dwindling supply of diverse students pursuing science and technology-related careers.

Components of the program covered by the Memorandum will include: summer internship opportunities for CCNY undergraduate and graduate students; a Student Educational Employment Program that will enable EPA to recruit CCNY students majoring in engineering, physical and social sciences, economics, computer science or public administration to fill positions within that program; and a Visiting Environmental Professional Program that will bring EPA officials to campus to speak to classes and conduct mini courses, lectures and seminars on current environmental topics, among other things.

To learn more about EPA partnerships and programs, visit www.epa.gov/region2.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From ‘Crack Garden’ to Greenway

Three Like Minds Are Forging Ahead


Milton Puryear (above right) and Brian McCormick (above left) met in 1997, under somewhat unusual circumstances.

Both had recently moved to the Columbia Waterfront neighborhood, and both were passionate about being outdoors.

So Puryear started a garden of sorts, in a wide crack on the west side of Hicks Street, south of Congress Street, near his home. He frequently worked on it, calling it the “Crack Garden,” and McCormick often walked by.

“Milton single-handedly eradicated all the ailanthus trees” that made the crack, and brought flowers in, said McCormick. One day, McCormick went up to Puryear and asked, “Can I help you? This looks dangerous.” With McCormick’s help — which included putting up a traffic cone to make sure Puryear didn’t get hit by any cars — a friendship was born.

Sadly, the Crack Garden no longer exists. Maintenance crews came along and destroyed it, said Puryear, who decided not to rebuild. “It was too much effort to be putting back into something that could just go away like that. That’s when we decided to make a real Greenway.”

“Myself and Milton have been working on the Greenway since 1998,” said McCormick. “We were the chair and co-chair of an organization called the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Task Force. Meg [Fellerath] joined us about a couple of years later.”

“I moved to the neighborhood in 2001 and met Brian on the street,” said Fellerath (above center). The three of them incorporated as the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) in 2004. Their objective was “to not only be advocates, but be catalysts and the planners of what became a project that spanned 14 miles along the Brooklyn Waterfront,” explained McCormick.

The three of them, upon moving to the neighborhood, felt that it lacked a shared space where people could be safe and active outside. Fellerath said ... read more.


Photo above courtesy of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

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Global Warming: We Have to Act Now

The Associated Press has released a story about President-Elect Obama's promise to act on reducing emissions as soon as he is in office — but is there enough time left?

Obama Left With Little Time to Curb Global Warming

By Seth Borenstein

WASHINGTON (AP) - When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid.

Since Clinton's inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton's second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it.

"The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over," he said on Tuesday after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. "We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now that this is a matter of urgency and national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way." ... read more

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Growing and Greening New York: PlaNYC and the Future of the City Exhibit Opens at the Museum of the City of New York

The Eagle received this statement from Mayor Bloomberg:

"Congratulations to The Museum of the City of New York for the opening of their new exhibition on PlaNYC: "Growing and Greening New York." The Museum is a living museum — an institution that embraces the future as much as it cherishes and preserves the past — and sustainability has become more and more important to our quality of life. We launched PlaNYC in 2006 with a substantial public outreach campaign, and this great exhibit is just one more way of expanding the conversation and engaging New Yorkers on this issue. The exhibition takes visitors through the course of a typical day in 2030 — from 7:00 AM to 2:00 AM — and I encourage all New Yorkers to come out and view it.

"The Museum curators and the City agencies that cooperated with them have staged an exhibit that teaches, inspires, and entertains. And that's more important than ever — because in these tough economic times, our cultural community not only supports tourism and jobs in the City, it lifts our collective spirit."

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Friday, December 12, 2008

De Blasio Reiterates Strong Opposition to Drilling in the New York City Watershed

The Eagle received this press release:

On Friday,
the Council's Environmental Protection Committee held an oversight hearing to examine the issue of drilling for natural gas in the New York City watershed. Councilmember Bill de Blasio strongly opposes this possibility, and stated:

"It is unconscionable to allow the toxic chemicals often involved in the gas drilling process to enter our New York city water supply at unsafe levels. Over fourteen million people rely on the New York City Watershed as their potable water source, and so it is our responsibility to fully protect this critical regional resource. We must choose the health and safety of New Yorkers over the short-term gains of increasing our natural gas supply."

De Blasio added, "Drilling in the City's watershed not only risks the health and well-being of millions of New Yorkers, but is fiscally irresponsible as well. In the event of contamination, filtering New York City's water supply would cost taxpayers in excess of ten billion dollars."

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Eco-Friendly ‘Progressive Dinner’

It started with the invitation. For this year’s third annual progressive dinner hosted by Brooklyn neighbors Caroline and James Koster, Landis and James Best and Susannah Drake and Stephen Culhane, the theme was eco-friendly.

To set the tone, their 60 invited guests received invitations printed on botanical seeded paper which sprouts into wildflowers when planted after the party is over. The invitation further encouraged “vintage, homespun, borrowed or handmade fashions.”

Plans were then made to host an eco-friendly cocktail party at the Bests’ home followed by a black tie seated dinner a few blocks away at the Kosters’ apartment.

“With guests able to walk to the events and to the Yuletide Ball after the dinner, we realized that it would just cost a few dollars to offset our carbon footprint for the event,” said organizer Caroline Koster. “So, we had to come up with some new ideas to make an eco-friendly event.” The trio decided to feature organic and local foods and beverages, environmental awareness and homemade ideas to make the party elegant, festive and green.

In addition to the cocktail party, which will feature organic and Long Island wines ... read more

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Students Learn About Composting

The Eagle received this press release:

Over a dozen third, fourth and fifth graders from PS 25 and PS 46 joined Partnership with Children's Environmental Group with their parents and teachers for a workshop with Luke Halligan. Halligan is from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and is the compost instructor of the Brooklyn Compost Project of Brooklyn Greenbridge. He is also a certified BBG master composter and Vice President/Education Chair at the Floyd Bennett Garden Association.

The children learned about indoor and outdoor composting; the workshop included an indoor worm bin with live worms and outdoor compost systems.


"Since Partnership with Children came to our school, we have seen improvements in the children socially and academically," said PS 46 Principal Brenda Hill. "Partnerships between nonprofits and community leaders — like ours with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — are becoming increasingly important, especially when our children need additional educational resources. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s work with our youth is a perfect example of one organization’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of at-risk children."


The following day at PS 25, Partnership with Children hosted a harvesting event for over 60 third graders and their parents and teachers, offering them an opportunity to celebrate the season. The group participated in face painting, pumpkin decorating, cookie decorating and frame making.

Partnership with Children is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the emotional, social and cognitive skills of at-risk public school children in order to help them succeed in school, in society and in their lives. Formerly Big Sisters, Inc., Partnership with Children was founded in 1908 and today serves over 12,000 children in 27 schools throughout all of the boroughs of New York through its various programs.

The photo above, courtesy of the school, is of Cesaly Sanchez, Orlanda Rivera, Kaliyah Jones, students at PS 25.

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Upcoming Greenway Cleanup

This Saturday, December 13, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) is hosting a Greenway cleanup along Columbia Street, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. BGI, along with the Columbia Street Neighborhood Association, hosts monthly cleanups to keep trash and debris off the newest segment of the Greenway route, which, when finished, will stretch 14 miles along the Brooklyn Waterfront. To participate this weekend, RSVP to Brian McCormick at bmccormick@brooklyngreenway.org.



The photo above is of Brian McCormick, one of the founders of BGI, and a volunteer at August's greenway cleanup. The photo at right is of the Greenway in action.

Photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative.

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A Germinating Holiday Card

The New York Observer posted in their real estate section an image of a "Holiday Green Card" given out by the New York City Housing Development Corporation. After putting the card in water for a few hours and then burying it in soil, it will turn into flowers!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beware When Buying Green

Many websites (including this blog) have listings for green gifts for this holiday season. The thing about these lists (including the one on this blog) is that products listed on them may not be as green as you think.

When buying green, you have to take into account where products are coming from. The carbon emissions released into the atmosphere during that new water bottle's trip to the U.S. may harm the environment more than it benefits the buyer.

For example, I came across a website, planitgreenhome.com that advertises "earth friendly shopping." Many of their products, while they are 100% organic cotton, come from Europe. I'm not attacking the website in any way (as this blog made the same mistake), I'm merely urging consumers to be knowledgeable when buying green.

A good way to approach purchasing green gifts is to buy as locally as possible. Or maybe, if your gift took a plane ride to get to you, offset the emissions by visiting carbonfund.org.

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Toxic Gases in Greenpoint

The New York Times and Brownstoner reported this week that there has been recent investigation and testing of buildings in Greenpoint. The area has already been dealing with the effects of oil spills, but this time the worry is that toxins will rise up into homes from below. These are left over from dry-cleaning plants and other factories that used to be in the area.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Redefining Green: ‘A Sustainable Healthy Future’

Sandi Franklin Talks About CUE’s Leadership In the Movement


As Sandi Franklin sat at her desk, made of completely recycled materials, drinking out of an aluminum water bottle, she reflected that, yes, she has changed since she became Executive Director of the Center for Urban Environment (CUE).

“I think I’ve changed my whole attitude,” she said. “I have a better appreciation for what my generation did and the generation before it that we’re all trying to clean up now.”

Because when Franklin (pictured above with Aisha Glover) started at CUE in 2002, she had a “non-profit management background,” not an environmental activism background. “In the last seven years the staff here has probably taught me more than I’ve taught them,” she said.

“I didn’t go to get this job because I was an educator or an environmentalist. I was very interested in ... read more


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Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Green Renovation

Susan Whiting and Bruce Van Dusen have had energy and its consumption on their minds for about 30 years. Whiting worked in the energy group of a Wall Street firm after business school, and her husband, an attorney, has professional interaction with power producers. The failing health of our planet is an important political — Whiting serves on the board of the NYC chapter of the New York League of Conservation Voters — and lifestyle issue for the Warren Street couple. So when it came to renovating their brownstone’s kitchen and bathrooms this year, they knew they wanted to do it “green.”

Whiting explains that there were three principles she followed as she began to research the project: sourcing locally and domestically whenever possible ... read more

Story by Trudy Whitman

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Brooklyn Educator Recognized for Environmental Leadership, Receives Audubon/Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship


Brooklynite Jillian Rubio (left) is one of only 40 people selected from competitors nationwide for the TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Program, part of a new conservation initiative of the National Audubon Society with support from Toyota.

For her fellowship, Jillian will partner with Stoked Mentoring, an action sports mentoring program in New York City, and together they will create a unique opportunity for Brooklyn youth to gain supportive mentors, along with a team of people determined to see them succeed. Youth participating in this program will be introduced to both the resources of the Prospect Park Audubon Center and the life lessons of an action sports mentoring program. By engaging urban youth in this unique way, they will have an opportunity to be outdoors and experience nature, on their terms.

Rubio has been involved in conservation efforts for over a decade and has proven to be a dedicated and innovative environmental educator. In her current position at Prospect Park, she leads Audubon’s first urban Audubon Center, welcoming over 90,000 visitors a year to this unique and beautiful green space; bringing nature experiences and environmental education to children and adults.

Previously, Rubio worked for Project Learning Tree in Arizona and the Arizona Association for Environmental Education.

“Jillian is the kind of person who can make a real difference in the health of our environment and the quality of our future,” said Audubon President John Flicker.

“The opportunity to be a part of this Fellowship has motivated me to expand how the Prospect Park Audubon Center serves our community in a unique and innovative way,” said Rubio. “Being based in Brooklyn — within an urban setting — has enabled us to meet the mission of the Center while serving a diverse urban community. My project further expands this ideal, by identifying the specific interests of a group we want to reach, namely youth in their early teens, and meeting them with a collaborative program that is both exciting and relevant.”

Visit togethergreen.org for more information on the organization and a complete list of the 2008 fellows.

Photo courtesy of Audubon


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Senator Velmanette Montgomery To Hold Community Workshop On Energy Conservation and Green Building Strategies

On December 11, Senator Velmanette Montgomery will host "Green Pathways to Green Living," a community workshop co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Joan Millman. It will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, at 401 Atlantic Avenue.

The presentations will include:

Programs to Finance Going Green — Programs to assist homeowners and small businesses to install green features. Presented by NYSERDA - NYS Energy and Research Development Agency.

Green Jobs for Energy Independence — A movement that links job creation, environmental stewardship and Energy Independence. Presented by NYC Apollo Alliance.

Energy Efficient Options for Brownstone Renovations — Visuals and description of green features installed in neighborhood brownstones. Presented by Damon Strub, architect and principal of Nomad Architecture.

Energy Smart Buildings — The Renaissance Program locates contractors and subsidies for plans to build green. Presented by Consolidated Edison.

There will also be a question-and-answer session, light refreshments and free environmental products.

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A Statement From the New York City Council Regarding State Plastic Bag Recycling Legislation

The Eagle received the following press release:

In spite of months of efforts on the part of the New York City Council and environmental advocates, the “Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act” — State legislation that undermines and preempts the City Council's stronger plastic bag recycling legislation — has made its way unchanged to Governor Paterson’s desk.

The following is a statement from Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn:

“I commend efforts to establish statewide plastic bag recycling. However, the State’s current legislation falls far short of the landmark plastic recycling program enacted by the New York City Council in January. And inexplicably, the bill contains a preemption provision that would prohibit our City from taking stronger action to deal with an environmental problem that should rightly be within our jurisdiction.

“The Council continues to urge Governor Paterson to secure a chapter amendment removing New York City from the bill's weaker requirements before signing this legislation into law. State legislation often
exempts New York City from particular requirements due to the unique and diverse needs of a city of nine million residents. If an agreement cannot be reached on such an amendment in this case, then the Governor
must in good conscience veto this legislation.

“The Governor has already received letters from myriad environmental organizations, similarly urging him to push for a chapter amendment. Additionally, we urge all environmentally-minded New Yorkers to join our call by signing a letter to Governor Paterson at http://council.nyc.gov/html/action_center/no_to_plastic_bag_bill.shtml

Statement from Peter F. Vallone Jr., prime sponsor of the Council’s plastic bag recycling bill:

“Albany cannot seem to take one step forward without taking two steps back. It's great that they have enacted statewide plastic bag legislation, but it’s terrible that they have significantly weakened our
law and have restricted the right of New York City and others to do even more. Albany is not just recycling our ideas, but also throwing our authority into the landfill.”

Statement from Sanitation Committee Chair Michael McMahon:

“The State Legislature's refusal to take action on a chapter amendment will undermine the efforts of the Council to bring effective plastic bag recycling to New York City. Their current bill takes the power of
enforcement out of local hands, all but ensuring that this legislation will go ignored. Governor Paterson can not allow the current legislation to become law.”

Speaker Quinn discussed the state legislation further in an address to the New York League of Conservation Voters December 2nd at 6:30 p.m. at the Russian Tea Room, 150 West 57th St.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Downtown-Based HOPE Program Launches ‘Green Collar Project’



These are tough times. We’re in the midst of an economic recession some have said is the worst of its kind since the Great Depression. We’re also facing an environmental crisis.

People need work and also need to do their part for the environment. At a time like this, wouldn’t the perfect job be a green job?

Absolutely, said Barbara Edwards Delsman, executive director of the HOPE Program. Which is why it recently launched a Green Collar Project.

The HOPE program, started in 1984 and located in Downtown Brooklyn, has been ... read more


Photo above, courtesy of the HOPE Program, is, left-right: Barbara Edwards Delsman, executive director of the HOPE Program; Victor Serrano, graduate of the HOPE Program; Daisuke “Doug” Koshima, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, Sharp Electronics Corporation; and Judah Zeigler, associate vice president, Sharp Electronics.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Solar Panels Proliferate in ‘Progressive’ Brooklyn


“Nothin’ moves backwards, buddy. Do you want to speak to a nuclear physicist?”

This is what an incredulous Con Edison employee said to Windsor Terrace resident Peter Landy
when his meter indicated that he wasn’t using any of the utility giant’s electricity.

That was two and a half years ago, right after Landy
had photovoltaic panels (pictured at right with Landy) installed on his roof, which convert sunlight into electricity. In other words, he went solar.

“We haven’t had a bill. Just the connection fee, which is around $11,” he says. “We produce more [electricity] than we use, so the meter goes backwards.”

Through a legislated arrangement called “net-metering,” Landy is able to “sell” his excess energy back into the system and build up credit with Con Ed. In the winter and at night, when the sun is less obliging ... read more

Story by Phoebe Neidl, photo courtesy of Aeon Solar

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De Blasio Announces Public Recycling Program Kick Off in Park Slope

The Eagle received this press release:

Last week, the Department of Sanitation (DOS), in partnership with The Doe Fund, Inc., Councilmember Bill de Blasio, and the Park Slope Civic Council, launched a public recycling program in Park Slope, Brooklyn for metal cans, glass bottles, and paper products. Similar to the high-end covered litter baskets DOS has placed in other locations throughout the City, the blue and green recycling cans will be placed at the corner of 7th Avenue and 6th Street in Park Slope. The cans will be serviced by the Doe Fund's Ready Willing and Able program participants, who currently work to keep this busy avenue clean.

“If you’re out in the neighborhood and you finish reading your newspaper, you either have to throw it away or carry it home with you,” said Councilmember Bill de Blasio. “We all know that recycling is the right thing to do, but it needs to be more accessible to people in their daily lives. Today brings us one step closer. I would like to thank The Doe Fund, the Park Slope Civic Council, and the Department of Sanitation for working together to make this initiative possible, especially at a time when the city cannot afford to increase spending on basic public services. Despite tough economic times, the environment must remain a high priority.”

“The ‘men in blue’ are well-known in Park Slope and throughout New York City for their hard work making city streets and sidewalks cleaner. We are pleased to help Councilmember de Blasio in his efforts to make Brooklyn greener as well,” said Joanna West, The Doe Fund's Director of Business Development.

“The Park Slope Civic Council is proud to have worked with Councilmember de Blasio, the Department of Sanitation and The DOE Fund to bring Commercial Street Side recycling to the community. In a community of individuals with such high environmental awareness, we are confident the program will be a huge success. We look forward to bringing other locations to fruition in order to further integrate recycling into the lives of Park Slopers,” said Bob Braun of the Park Slope Civic Council.

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A Green Tasting at a Green Market

The Foragers Market in DUMBO, a market specializing in locally grown and natural products, is having a “Heavenly Holiday Tasting” on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 2-5 p.m. Vendors that sell to the market will come with their products for customers to sample. Some of the vendors that will be in attendance are: Brownstone Coffee, a specialty roasting company in Brooklyn; Hot Bread Kitchen; and Pumpkin Village Foods. If you’re interested in finding out what grass fed meat tastes like, there will be samples from an upstate farm. Owners Anna Castellani, Clifford Shikler, Richard Lamb and Alexander Krivosheiw want customers to “taste an exquisite array of appetizers.. drool over [their] chocolates and candy, devour [their] home-made breads, sip [their] fresh roasted coffee and swoon over [their] local cheeses.” The Christmas Dinner Menu will be available for previewing, and there will be giveaways for children.

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A Green Gift Guide: For All Your (Eco-Friendly) Holiday Needs

Go Green

For the yoga-enthusiast, get an environmentally friendly, all natural yoga mat. You can find one at Brooklyn store Omala, 400 Atlantic Ave., or www.omalausa.com/journeyyogamat.html.

Know someone who needs new dishes for their kitchen? Give them bamboo kitchen products. Many places are selling them now, including The Brooklyn Kitchen on Lorimer St. in Williamsburg. Bamboo is strong and is the fastest growing plant on earth. Instead of cutting down a 50-year-old tree, damaging the surrounding environment, bamboo is cut down and regenerates after three to five years with no negative impacts to the plant or environment (calibamboo.com).

An aluminum or stainless steel water bottle as a gift ... read more


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Recycle-A-Bicycle Raises Money Selling Bike Jewelry


When faced with the coming winter, with people riding their bicycles less and not buying any new ones, how does Recycle-A-Bicycle generate funds? By selling jewelry made out of bicycle parts, of course!

Last Tuesday, Karen Overton, the founder of Recycle-A-Bicycle, had a table at “Crafted at the Creek,” an event at The Creek restaurant in Long Island City where local artisans gathered to sell their goods. Overton sold her bicycle jewelry, the profits of which ... read more


Image courtesy of Karen Overton

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Forget Plastic Bags, Use Reusable Bags!

With growing concern about the environment, many people have started using re-usable bags when they shop, whether for groceries or just household items. As was reported last month, Mayor Bloomberg is proposing a six-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City, which would be an added incentive to reduce and reuse.

Now more than ever, the Brooklyn Eagle wants to encourage readers to carry with them a bag or a
tote so as not to collect and throw away these plastic bags. Should Bloomberg’s idea come to pass, plastic bags will not only impact the environment, they will also impact your budget.

Certain tote purchases will even help a third cause. The Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter, has started selling “Forget Me Not” Go Green shopping totes (right), with the Foundation’s logo and pictures of forget-me-not flowers on them. Proceeds from each sale ... read more

Image courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter



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Green Desk Has Its Open House

Two weeks ago, Green Desk, an office building in DUMBO that rents out green office space, had its open house. Miguel McKelvey, one of Green Desk’s owners, said the event was “about celebrating the tenants,” and gathering them together to meet socially. There was a ribbon cutting, and Councilman David Yassky and Borough President Marty Markowitz spoke. “There were about 100 people there at all times,” said McKelvey, who explained that people were constantly filtering in and out.

The current tenants of Green Desk were invited and encouraged to invite their friends and families. McKelvey said that one person who attended the event came in the very next day to rent out space and started working the morning after that. The building in DUMBO has six floors, three of which are occupied. Tenants range from software companies, fashion designers, and even a business that sells backpacks and laptops with solar panels on them, added McKelvey. He said the event was very successful, and that having the politician there adds to “the idea that Brooklyn is becoming a home for the environmentally conscious.”


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6/15 Green Composted Brooklyn's Leaves, Picked Up Where City Left Off

When New York City decided, due to budget cuts, not to collect leaves separate from garbage this year, community garden 6/15 Green decided to do something about it.

While leaves are always being composted in the garden, this year, members decided to put the word out to all of Brooklyn — and even the rest of the city — inviting anyone who has leaves to bring theirs to the garden.

So they set up four composting events: three that took place over the past two weekends and one that will take place this coming weekend.


Jessica Katz (pictured at right with Sung Uni Lee, a garden member and Master Composter; her three-year old daughter Masai Matale; garden member and Master Composter Holly Hallmark; and volunteer Anthony Ciccone), a member of the garden, helped organize these events. She is a “Master Composter,” having taken a course at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and not only helps compost the leaves given to 6/15 Green, she also ... read more


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A Tree Moves in Brooklyn


What do you do when a 200-ton Ginkgo Biloba is in the way? Move it, according to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The process to start moving a large Ginkgo Biloba tree in the garden began in the spring, when Perfection Tree Experts was hired to make the move. As the first step, the company scored a circle around the tree to prepare its roots.

Vice President of Horticulture and Scien
ce Research at the garden, Patrick Cullina, explained that ... read more

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Galapagos Art Space On Its Way to LEED Certification


As an artist and director of the Galapagos Art Space, Robert Elmes believes environmental awareness is important. “If the arts can’t show leadership, who can?” he asked. “It’s a privilege to work in the arts...we have a responsibility to lead with social issues.”

So when building Galapagos, he decided to make it as environmentally efficient as possible and pursue LEED certification, hiring architect (and LEED-accredited professional) Tony Daniels to do it.

LEED is “a green building rating system supervised by the U.S. Green Building Council,” said Daniels. “It’s a universal standard to measure green performance.”

The Green Building Council calculates how green a building is with ... read more

Photo courtesy of the Galapagos Art Space

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Brooklyn Heights Association Makes the Neighborhood Greener


Fifty years ago, as a part of the fight to stop Robert Moses from splitting the Heights with the highway, the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) planted trees throughout the neighborhood.

Since then, the association has established a tree fund to support the continuation of these tree plantings. Last year, the BHA planted 27.

Irene Janner of the BHA said that two years ago, the organization held a drive to raise money for its tree fund. Members of the association starting looking for empty pits that they could plant in, then consulted the Parks Department, which ... read more

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Outdoor Recycling Containers Come to Busy Brooklyn Locations

More and more, people are asked to separate recyclables from other trash indoors. Outdoors, it’s still “one size fits all,” as pedestrians throw all sorts of refuse—candy wrappers, half-eaten donuts, flyers for sales at drugstores, newspaper—into sidewalk trash receptacles.

Technically, people aren’t supposed to throw personal trash, such as items they’ve received in the mail, into these public containers, but that doesn’t seem to stop anybody.

Now, the Department of Sanitation is installing 33 new blue and green recycling bins in outdoor locations around the city. An announcement was made on last month at City Hall Park with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilwoman Jessica Lappin and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

Nine new recycling bins are being installed in Brooklyn – at McCarren Park in Greenpoint; two in Prospect Park, at the Ninth Street and Prospect Park West entrance and at the corner of Ocean and Parkside avenues; at the intersection of Church and Flatbush avenues; at the intersection of Adams, Fulton and Willoughby streets; at the intersection of Hastings Street and Oriental Boulevard; at the intersection of Avenue S and East 32nd Street; and at the intersection of 44th Street and Seventh Avenue in Sunset Park.

Anyone with even a casual acquaintance with the Brooklyn scene will know that these are some of the busiest locations in the borough. The Ninth Street entrance to Prospect Park, for example, is where concert-goers enter during the summer; the intersection of Church and Flatbush Avenues is the historic center of Flatbush; and the Adams-Fulton intersection is the beginning of the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.

At these locations, blue bins accept metal, glass and plastic containers. Green bins accept newspapers and other paper products.

Jack Katz, executive director of the Flatbush Business Improvement District (BIDs), said that at the Flatbush-Church intersection, “Trash containers are overflowing on all four corners.” The containers were installed two days ago, he said, so it’s too soon to gauge their effectiveness.

Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, said that trash in the park tends to be seasonal. The alliance, a public-private fundraising group for the park, often places its own trash containers within the park, he added.

Patron welcomed the new development, saying that the old-style see-through trash bins, familiar to every New Yorker, are often stolen “or turned upside down and used to place barbecue grills on.”
The effort, according to the Sanitation Department, is being conducted in cooperation with 18 BIDs throughout the city.

The public recycling program was begun in April 2007 as part of the city’s long-term waste management program. Several bins were installed in the city before the current expansion, including one at Front Street in DUMBO.

Story by Raanan Geberer

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Park Slope Food Co-op Introduced Valet Bike Parking


“Hey, would you like me to park your bike for you?”

Ever fantasized about hearing these words as you wander around looking for a dependable utility pole you can entrust your bike to? Well, members of the Park Slope Food Co-op on Union Street may be able to kiss those heavy chain locks and removable front wheels goodbye, at least while they’re grocery shopping.

On Saturday, Oct. 18 the co-op held a one-day trial for free valet bike parking. The trial, which ran from noon to 5 p.m., was devised by an exploratory committee of the co-op set up to encourage people to ride their bikes.

“We feel there are a lot of people who would ride their bikes here but don’t because of theft and the difficulty of finding a spot to park your bike,” said Ken Coughlin, a member of the co-op for 20 years and a member of the board of directors at Transportation Alternatives, a biking advocacy group.

So, the Shop and Cycle Committee is looking to remove any obstacles keeping members from pedaling their way to this members-only organic market, which is now in its fourth decade and has close to 14,000 members.

“To properly lock a bike in New York City, it can take four or five minutes,” noted Coughlin.
The committee is also trying to increase the number of bike racks on the street. “We think it’s an ‘if you build it, they will come’ sort of thing,” he says.

Transportation Alternatives, which does valet bike parking at many of its events, provided “tech support” for Saturday’s trial. They lent the co-op a tent for the informational booth and the temporary bike rack, which is the same type used at triathlons.

For “valet tickets,” the committee re-used plastic yogurt lids and wrote the names of fruits or vegetables on them. So if a member was handed “watercress,” the valet hooked an identical one on the bike so the right person could reclaim it.

As of about 3:30 p.m., 40 bikes had used the service, and at one point the rack was at capacity, according to co-op member Lloyd Hicks, pictured above.

“It is a bit of a pain to find a spot,” said member Amy Wolfe after handing off her bike to the valet. “This is a very good service,” added her companion, Bennett Baumer.

The hope of the committee is that the co-op will adopt this as a shift. Part of being a member means that you have to work a shift at the co-op once every four weeks—and with so many members, the co-op has quite a work force and can explore offering such a seemingly luxurious service— for free, no less.

“If we succeed in shifting some co-op members from cars or shopping on foot to bikes, this will also make the streets safer for cyclists in general because studies show that the more cyclists on the streets, the safer it is for all of them,” said Coughlin.

“It’s a form of transportation that is better for our city and our world than driving a car, for a host of reasons, including cleaner air, less reliance on oil and safer, human-scale streets,” he added.

Photo and story by
Phoebe Neidl

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Brooklyn's Got A New Environmental Service Facility

WRS Environmental Services, a full-service environmental response and remediation contractor, has opened a facility in East New York.

Founded in 1992 and originally called Waste Recycling Solutions, the company has other locations in Long Island City, Queens, and Long Island. Among the services they offer are emergency spill response; asbestos decontamination and removal; and transportation and disposal of materials.

WRS’ services address both hazardous and non-hazardous conditions, on a 24/7 emergency response basis, and as part of carefully planned and executed remediation, new construction and ... read more


Photo courtesy of WRS

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Green Teen Essay Contest Winners Announced

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Flowerworks, a florist and landscape contractor, sponsored a Green Teen Essay Contest. Contestants ages 12 through 18 were asked to write a 250-300 word essay on how teens can help Mayor Bloomberg implement his initiative to plant a million trees by the year 2018.

The first place winner—and recipient of $500—was Glynn Greenwood Pogue, a 16 year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who attends the Beacon School in Manhattan. The second place winner was Rebecca Schmidt, a 14 year old from Central Brooklyn who attends Clara Barton High School, and the third place winner was Olufemi Leverett, a 17 year-old also from Central Brooklyn who is a student at Packer Collegian Institute. Both received $250.

Pictured here are Green Teen Essay second place winner Rebecca Schmidt from Central Brooklyn; Cristiana Fragola, Director of Million Trees of NYC; third place winner Olufemi Leverett from Central Brooklyn; first place winner Glynn Greenwood Pogue from Bedford-Stuyvesant; Angel and Marcia
Melendez, owners of Flowerworks Landscape Contractor and Elijah Graves II, a student at MSASE High School in Central Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Flowerworks

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How Superfine Got Its Name

Tanya Rynd, one of the owners of Superfine Restaurant in DUMBO, says that when she and her friends Cara Lee Sparry and Laura Taylor were looking for a name, they consulted Webster’s Dictionary. One of the definitions of the word “superfine” is “of refined taste or texture.”

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Green Business Owner Also Owns Kung Fu School

Cynthia Barnett has opened a Kung Fu school above her other business, DUMBO Pet Care. She used to train in Kung Fu before starting DUMBO Pet Care two and a half years ago and has parntered with her old teacher to begin this new venture. The grand opening of the school was on Oct. 18 and featured a demonstration and a party. Can you guess what color belt Barnett is? Green.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brooklyn Lawmakers Evaluated On 'Green-Friendly’ Voting Record


Ever wonder how your local Assembly member or state Senator feels about the environment?

EPL/Environmental Advocates wants voters to know how green their candidates are. So they compile an annual environmental scorecard – the Voters’ Guide – based on how Assembly members or senators voted for bills that affect the environment.

EPL/Environmental Advocates recently released their guide. Brooklyn Assembly members consistently scored average or above (with a few exceptions), and Brooklyn Senators mostly scored near average or slightly below.

In the Assembly, the Democrats had an average score of 98, while the Republicans had an average of 79 points. In the Senate, the Democrats scored an average of 85, whereas the Republicans scored an average of 75.

All Brooklyn Assembly members scored above average, with five exceptions. ... read more

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DUMBO Pet Care Sells Organic Animal Food, Donates To Local Pet Shelters



Cynthia Barnett is a self-proclaimed animal lover. As a DUMBO resident, she noticed that the neighborhood didn’t have many pet care options. “The only thing you could get was dog walking,” she said. “As a business savvy individual, I saw a need and an opportunity... I wanted to do something different.” So, with her boyfriend Dario Hernandez, she started DUMBO Pet Care two and a half years ago.

They do boarding, day care, dog walking, and cat visits — which is when an employee
spends a half hour one or two times a day with a cat at its home if an owner is away. The business was first based out of her home, but when the number of dogs outgrew the space, she moved to her current storefront at 25 Jay Street in DUMBO.

Barnett is passionate about animals — and has five of her own ... read more

Photo courtesy of DUMBO Pet Care

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Green Foragers Market a 'Great Neighborhood Market,' Say Owners


When walking into the Foragers Market on Adams Street in DUMBO, customers are greeted with the sounds of old music and the sights of colorful, beautifully arranged food. The environment is calm, clean, and gives the appearance that whatever you buy will be good and healthy.

But when the market first opened, its reception was not as warm as its owners – Clifford Shikler, Richard Lamb, Alex Krivosheiw and Anna Castellani – had hoped.

“We were all loft dwellers, but for some reason [the customers] perceived us as being big fancy people who wanted to price gauge and bring [the neighborhood] up to a level that was out of line with their budget,” said Castellani, who wanted to open the shop because ... read more
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Superfine Restaurant has Organic Food, Beer and Cleaning Products


Cara Lee Sparry, Tanya Rynd and Laura Tayor developed the idea for the restaurant they own together ten years ago, when they would have supper clubs and parties in their loft. “We transformed the house into a lounge” Sparry said, with a dining room and stage and dance floor. “One night when we were having one of these parties,” she explained, “we thought ‘This should be our job.’”

So the three friends started Superfine Restaurant in the back kitchen of a 90-year-old iron workers bar. They designed and built its current location at 126 Front Street in DUMBO eight years ago, when the community was mostly composed of artists.

“We knew we could serve our community organic, delicious, really simple, beautiful food... at affordable prices” said Sparry. So that’s what they did.

“Whenever possible, we work directly with farmers,” said Rynd. The trio gets their eggs and vegetables from ... read more

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It’s ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ For One DUMBO Architect


Architect Roy Leone has always thought being environmentally conscious was important. When he went to school at the University of Arizona to get his Bachelors of Architecture, “there was a strong commitment to the environment and being sustainable.” So it makes sense that he would bring these values to DUMBO.

Leone started Leone Design Studio seven years ago and moved it to DUMBO a year later. His projects are usually residential, and are renovations, not rebuilds, which is better for the environment. “We try to make [every project] more green than it was before,” Leone said.


One way to make a project greener is to reuse parts of a building in new ways. For example, in a brownstone Leone is renovating on Cranberry Street in Brooklyn Heights (right), he is using wood already in the house to make new stairs. This townhouse will also have ... read more


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