Monday, November 30, 2009

Williamsburg Florist Honored For Green Entrepreneurship

While growing up in West Virginia, Kimberly Sevilla (pictured at left with her daughter Lavender) frequently noticed non-natural gardening practices: plants lined up in rows, and the use of Miracle-Gro products, to name a few.

“Americans were never really taught how to garden and how to compost and use the world around them,” said Sevilla, who cultivated a passion for gardening as she traveled the world to study the techniques of other cultures, reading historical books on the subject.

Sevilla has always gardened for herself — she has a garden in upstate New York and one at her home in Williamsburg — but didn’t make it part of her profession until just over a year ago, when she opened Rose Red & Lavender, a full service florist in Williamsburg.

Rose Red & Lavender isn’t just a place to buy cut flowers. Sevilla offers classes in urban gardening to the community through the store. “We’re teaching people how to repurpose and reuse things that they may have already to grow [gardens].”

She showed children how to plant a variety of seeds — herbs and vegetables — in a five-gallon bucket to create a “meal in a bucket” and also teaches students at her classes to create planters out of old tires. “This was popular in the ’60s,” she said. “We’re trying to revive that.”

Sevilla started a campaign to distribute seed balls, which are balls of clay that have flower seeds in them that don’t need to be planted in the soil. “It’s a technique used by Native Americans,” she said, and the flowers can sprout anywhere, namely the number of vacant lots in Williamsburg.

During the summertime, Sevilla sources her flowers from local farms. She grows the lavender she sells at the shop on property in West Virginia. She composts all the waste from the flowers and recycles everything she can.

It is this commitment to educating the community and making Williamsburg a greener place that won Sevilla an award for green entrepreneurship by the Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network, an organization dedicated to small business development in New York City’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Entrepreneurs were selected for this award for their efforts to go beyond just recycling in their green businesses.

Sevilla wants the award to help her spread eco-awareness. “I hope that people will seek us out for advice,” she said. “Everybody wants to be green — I don’t think they necessarily know how to do it.

“People come to me and say, ‘I don’t have a yard.’ Well, you don’t need a yard,” Sevilla continued. “We could be growing food on the roofs, there’s so much wasted space on the roofs ... you have a wall, put hooks on your wall, use window boxes.

“There are a lot of things around us that we can use.”

For hours and information about Rose Red & Lavender’s products and services, visit For information about BOC, visit

Photo above by Amy Wise. Little Lavender came before the shop.

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Mayor Bloomberg Appoints Brooklynite Caswell Holloway to Head Department of Environmental Protection

The Eagle received this press release:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Caswell F. Holloway — who lives in Brooklyn Heights — as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. Holloway currently serves as Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler and as Special Advisor to Mayor Bloomberg.

Holloway took a leading role in the writing and implementation of the Administration’s report on the health impacts of September 11 and led negotiations on 9/11 health legislation that has been introduced in both houses of Congress. He also played a lead role in developing the City’s comprehensive cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal and in the passage and implementation of the City’s new Solid Waste Management Plan.

Holloway will replace Acting Commissioner Steven Lawitts, who has served since the departure of Commissioner Emily Lloyd last October. Holloway will begin work at the Department of Environmental Protection in January.

“Since he came to City Hall, Cas has worked a couple of desks away from me and I have watched him take on some of the toughest assignments and deliver solutions, from 9/11 health to the Gowanus Cleanup to reforming demolition procedures in the wake of the tragic 130 Liberty Street fire,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I’ve seen him work closely with senior managers at a range of City agencies on matters large and small, with a singular focus on results. Under Cas’s leadership, we’re going to complete vital infrastructure projects like the Third Water Tunnel, improve security of our city’s 2,000-square-mile watershed, and move forward with DEP’s ten-year, $13 billion capital program. I want to thank Steve Lawitts for leading this agency during the transition period, and I know Cas will build on his good work.”

“New York City has the best drinking water in the nation, and the waterways that surround us have always been a key to the City’s prosperity,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Mayor Bloomberg has led the way in making the investments necessary to prepare our water and sewer infrastructure for the next century, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with the talented and dedicated team at DEP to continue that effort, and to press forward aggressively to open as much of our waterfront as possible to renewed investment and recreation.”

Commissioner Holloway has started key initiatives like the new citywide public recycling program and worked with the Fire Department to implement new inspection protocols and safety measures for first responders on construction sites. Over the last year, he led the negotiations that resulted in the Project Labor Agreements announced last week, which will allow the City to save money on and invest more in major infrastructure projects. The agreements include provisions that will ensure better access to good construction jobs for Minority and Women-owned small-business enterprises.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s more than 6,000-person staff is responsible for the City’s air and water quality, for the safety and operation of a water supply system that serves more than 8.5 million people daily, for collecting and processing wastewater, and for enforcing compliance in the handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Recycled and Stitched Art Exhibition in Brooklyn

The Gumbo Gallery and Stevie’s Artisans present a multimedia exhibition of “Recycled and Stitched Art: The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary” at Gumbo, 493 Atlantic Ave. (between Nevins and Third avenues). The exhibition opens with a reception Sunday, Dec 6 from 3 – 5 p.m. and runs through Sunday, Jan. 31.

“Recycled and Stitched Art,” will feature fabric art by Margaret Cusack; zipper jewelry by Kate Cusack (left); pillows and wall hangings by Joyce Daniels; stitched portraits on paper by Marlene Mayerson; mobiles made from recycled wood, metal and poetry fragments by Elizabeth Ortiz; paintings on broken glass and sculpture by Ibou N’doye; spray painted fabric and paper towel construction by Beatrix Piesh (What Do You Do For Love, spray paint on wood, below); mixed media wood boxes by Leslie Rubman; quilts by Teri Scaduto,;and dolls from recycled New York Times bags by Beatrice Weiner Cohen.

During the reception, artisans featured by Stevie’s Artisans will demonstrate their crafts in mini-workshops. Participating artisans are Elizabeth Ortiz, Karen Ahn, Aaron Lazansky and Diana Pucci.

This exhibition complements this year’s theme — “A Green Holiday” — of the holiday window displays of the Atlantic Avenue merchants. Windows will be judged by a distinguished panel of judges and winners will be announced at the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the Belarusan Church at Atlantic and Bond.

Images courtesy of
Stevie’s Artisans
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Score Produce From a Local Farm For Thanksgiving

Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint, at 44 Eagle St. between Franklin and West streets, normally sells directly to area chefs, but it will open its doors to the public this Sunday, Nov 22 for an open market. Visit anytime from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 100 percent of the proceeds will go towards funding next year's seed stock.

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A Sad Fate For a Green Wall

It's not in Brooklyn, but I thought I'd post this because it's such a tragedy. The living wall outside Pure Yoga at East 86th Street, which was built about a year ago, is in a sad state due to a scaffold that covered it. What once was lush, beautiful and eco-friendly is now almost dead. Read the full story at the Real Deal.

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Take Advantage of Green Carts This Thanksgiving

The Eagle received the following information about NYC Green Carts:

Instead of loading up a Thanksgiving Day plate with fatty gravies, starchy stuffing, and canned cranberries, the NYC Green Carts initiative offers New Yorkers the opportunity to trim their turkeys with the freshest fruits and vegetables.

NYC Green Carts is a public-private partnership between the Mayor’s Fund for New York City, the New York City Department of Health, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, in which specially permitted street vendor carts sell only fresh fruits and vegetables throughout areas of the five boroughs where such produce is limited. The program is designed to help curb obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and related illnesses, which disproportionately affect people in these underserved neighborhoods.

“The fresh produce found on your local NYC Green Cart makes for a wonderful way to celebrate and give thanks with your loved ones,” explained Laurie M. Tisch, President of the Illumination Fund that bears her name. “We know that people who have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables eat more of them. We also know that eating such produce goes a long way to combating obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So, eating healthier is something we can all be thankful for this year.”

Residents can find these healthy foods, and the carts that carry them, by looking for the colorful green umbrellas labeled with the NYC Green Cart logo in their own neighborhoods.

For more information on the NYC Green Carts program, visit or

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Con Edison Power Breakfast at Tomorrow in Brooklyn

Join a panel of business owners and industry experts as they share stories of how they’ve made a positive impact on the environment, and learn how a commitment to the environment and the community can add up to profits for your company.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s Business Library at 280 Cadman Plaza West will present a Con Edison Power Breakfast tomorrow from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., moderated by Vanessa Knight, of the Sustainable Business Network of New York City. Panelists will be Michael DiMarino of Linda Tool; Jennie Dundas of Blue Marble Ice Cream; Mark Ehrhardt of Movers, Not Shakers!, Inc.; Aisha Glover of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.; and Ron Spinelli of Industrial and Technology Assistance Corp.

Register online to attend, or call (718) 623-7000 and select option 4.


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Monday, November 16, 2009

Recycle Batteries and Cell Phones at Brooklyn Greenmarkets

The Eagle received the following press release:

Beginning this week, the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) is placing collection boxes to recycle old rechargeable batteries and cell phones at select Greenmarket farmers markets across the city.

CENYC has joined the Recyclable Battery Recycling Corporation’s (RBRC) national Call2Recycle program which will help NYC residents conveniently recycle their cell phones and portable rechargeable batteries. All of the materials collected through the Call2Recycle program are recycled and used to create other types of materials, including new batteries and scrap metal. None of the material broken down from the recycling of rechargeable batteries and cell phones makes its ways into landfills.

Residents can now easily recycle these items at eight Greenmarket locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Collection boxes will be available at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (the northwest entrance to Prospect Park) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“By participating in the Call2Recycle program, we’re able to conserve natural resources and at the same time prevent harmful materials from entering our landfills,” said CENYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. “This program is one of the ways we help New Yorkers recycle better, reuse more, and reduce waste.”

Rechargeable batteries are commonly found in cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, cordless power tools, two-way radios, camcorders, digital cameras, and a variety of other portable electronic products. When the battery can no longer hold a charge, it can and should be recycled. In fact, with the implementation of Local Law 97 of 2005, it has been illegal for NYC resident to discard rechargeable batteries in the trash since December 2006. The average American cell phone user has a total of 3 or more cell phones and 6 cordless electronic products in their possession.

“Community participation is a crucial part of our program because it puts us in touch with the public,” says Carl Smith, RBRC President. “Communities like New York City are helping to make rechargeable battery and cell phone recycling a reality, and that’s great for the environment.”

“We’ve seen how textile recycling programs at our farmers markets are a success and we are thrilled to add rechargeable batteries and cell phones to the list of materials we collect for recycling,” said Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz. “Our Greenmarkets are becoming the go-to resource for sustainable living—with many offering compost collections, textile recycling, and other community-based activities.”

In addition to cell phones and rechargable batteries, CENYC also collects unwanted clothing at 8 Greenmarket locations. Through its clothing and textile recycling program, CENYC has diverted nearly 500,000 pounds of textiles from the landfill.

For more information, visit

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Edible Schoolyard Program Coming to Gravesend School

Pictured here is a rendering of an organic garden and greenhouse coming to P.S. 216 in Gravesend as part of the Edible Schoolyard program started by renowned chef Alice Waters. P.S. 216 will be the first New York City school to participate in the program, which first began in San Francisco in 1995.

Students in the program will plant, harvest, prepare food and eat together, which will tie into a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum involving science, math, social studies and the arts. Part of what is now an asphalt-covered yard at the school will be converted into a quarter-acre organic farm, a kitchen classroom, and a mobile, four-season greenhouse. Funds are now being raised for construction, hoped to start in June 2010.

Read the full story about the project by Eagle writer Phoebe Neidl here.

Image courtesy of WORK Architecture Company

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Make Your Own Reusable Bags at Etsy Labs

Tonight, at the Etsy Open craft Night at Etsy Labs (55 Washington St., suite 512, in DUMBO), sew reusable bags with Bags for the People — a non-profit organization that provides the public with a sustainable alternative to plastic bags — and Katherine Bell, author of Quilting for Peace. Stop by anytime from 4 to 8 p.m. for the bag making tutorial. If you can’t make it, you can watch the tutorial online at 5 p.m. Here is more information on tonight's event.

Bags for the People and Etsy will team up again next weekend for the first annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit. On Sunday, Nov 22 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at SPACECRAFT (355 Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg), sample homemade pies and home brewed beer from Brooklyn Brews. There is a $10 entrance fee that will go to support Bags for the People. This event is sponsored by Brooklyn Based and Etsy. For information on how to enter the bake-off, click here.

Pictured above is Glenn Robinson, one of the founders of Bags for the People, sewing bags at the Green Brooklyn... Green City fair in September.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Green Mountain Energy Company Launches in New York City Neighborhoods

The Eagle received this press release:

Residents and businesses in Brooklyn now have a new option for choosing renewable energy. Green Mountain Energy Company, the nation’s leading provider of cleaner energy, is now available in the Con Edison service territory and offers customers a choice of competitively-priced renewable energy products. With the company’s entrance into the market, Green Mountain becomes the first and only electric services company in New York City that is focused solely on providing cleaner electricity products to customers.

Customers in Brooklyn can choose their supplier of electricity because the state’s electric industry is open to competition. Only 15 percent of Con Edison’s nearly 4 million customers have shopped for electric service since energy competition began in New York City in 2005.

“Not only can Brooklyn residents and businesses choose who supplies electric service to their homes, schools and workplaces, they can also chose how their electricity is made,” said John Holtz, director of East Region Markets for Green Mountain Energy Company. “Green Mountain was founded 12 years ago with a mission to ‘change the way power is made.’ That mission is at the center of everything we do, because cleaner energy is all we do.”

The traditional production of electricity from fossil fuels is the largest source of industrial air pollution in the U.S. Purchasing Green Mountain Energy electricity is one of the easiest things Brooklyn residents can do to help reduce their household’s share of CO2 emissions — even easier than recycling.

Holtz noted that if every household and business in Brooklyn used Green Mountain Energy electricity products for one year, it could prevent over 439 million pounds of CO2 emissions (Based on approximately 884,000 residential and commercial electric accounts in Brooklyn). That avoids as much CO2 pollution as recycling about 175 million newspapers — a stack as high as over 11,000 Empire State Buildings on top of each other!

Green Mountain Products in New York City:

Residential Customers:
Green Mountain is offering New Yorkers the choice between two electricity products that use clean renewable sources like wind and water: Pollution Free electricity and the 100% Wind product.

• Pollution Free electricity is made from New York wind and water sources. An average New York City household choosing the Pollution Free product for one year can offset almost 500 pounds of CO2 (Based on average household usage of 500 kWh per month in the Con Edison service territory). That’s like not taking 128 cab rides, or recycling almost 200 pounds of newspaper.

• 100% Wind product helps support the development of renewable energy in America. With the 100% Wind product, Green Mountain matches 100% of the customer’s electricity usage with clean energy generated from wind power sources in the U.S. An average New York City household choosing Green Mountain’s 100% Wind product for one year can offset nearly 8,000 pounds of CO22. That’s like not taking over 2,000 cab rides, or recycling nearly 20,000 aluminum cans.

Commercial Customers:
Green Mountain’s Commercial Services division is offering small and medium commercial class customers in Brooklyn customized cleaner energy solutions that include national or regional wind resources.

“More and more businesses in New York City want to use cleaner electricity to offset their carbon emissions,” added Holtz. “The City has instituted policies promoting renewable energy. Purchasing Green Mountain Energy electricity can help businesses in Brooklyn and throughout New York City reduce their carbon emissions and make their businesses greener.”

Green Mountain plans to have a regular presence at different Greenmarkets in Brooklyn. Local residents can talk to Green Mountain representatives in person to learn more about the company and sign up for Green Mountain Energy electricity.

Enrollment Information:
• Residential Customers: 877-216-GMEC (4632)
• Commercial Customers: 866-767-5818
• Online at

The Con Edison service territory is the second electric market Green Mountain is serving in New York State. Green Mountain has been serving cleaner electricity to National Grid customers in Upstate New York since 2002, through the utility company’s “GreenUp” renewable energy program.

Green Mountain, the nation’s leading provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions, was founded in 1997 “to change the way power is made.” The company is the longest serving green power marketer in the U.S. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of cleaner electricity products from renewable sources, such as wind and water, and carbon offset products. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 4.9 million tons of CO2 emissions. For more information, visit

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Call For Sustainability-Themed Artwork

Green Edge NYC — a social network that connects people with businesses, organizations and the resources they need to build a sustainable future — seeks art submissions focused on one or more element of sustainability: environment, society, economy, lifestyle/individual.

The organization is looking for artists to donate a piece to be displayed and auctioned at its annual fundraiser celebration, this year a third birthday bash.

The event will be held Thursday December 3 at Littlefield performance and art space in Brooklyn. It is expected to draw more than 100 people, and will be a great opportunity for you to present your work to a like-minded crowd. Selected artists will be seen by Green Edge’s large online network, included in email blasts and included in media materials.

Donation of art qualifies the artist for free +1 admission to the event.

All proceeds from the silent auction will go to Green Edge NYC to continue its mission to connect people with the resources they need to live more sustainable lives, and artists can request a documentation for their donation for tax purposes.

Twelve to 16 works will be selected to be featured at this event and auctioned off as part of the silent auction, so email your best sustainable-focused piece to Submissions are due by Wednesday, November 18. Selected artists will be notified by Tuesday, November 24.

GreenEdge Collaborative NYC was founded in 2006 by then-Park Slope resident Carolyn Gilles. She wanted to connect businesses and residents who live sustainably. Since then, GreenEdge has expanded to include a Kentucky chapter, and a San Francisco chapter is in the works.

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Williamsburg Bars Powered By Wind

While new hotspot Brooklyn Bowl has made headlines lately with its eco-friendly features and commitment to energy efficiency, did you know that the other Williamsburg bowling alley, The Gutter, at 200 N 14th St, gets its electricity through wind power, and has been since it opened two years ago?

Owner Paul Kermizian, who also owns Barcade at 388 Union Ave (in Williamsburg), was "concerned about the energy drain" his bars would have, I read in a report on the Mother Nature Network. He switched Barcade to wind power after opening it, serves local and regional beers, and the decor is secondhand. Read more about the eco-friendly features of the two bars in the full story here.

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