Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Turn Your Christmas Tree Into Compost or Mulch at Locations in Brooklyn

As usual, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will hold its annual holiday tree curbside collection and recycling program this year. Starting Monday Jan 4 and continuing through Friday, Jan 15 you can put your tree out by the curb — having removed all its ornaments, and not in a bag — and it will be pick up, chipped and made into compost.

Compost will then be spread over the city’s parks, community gardens and ball fields. Last year, 122,235 trees were collected by DSNY.

“Providing collection and recycling options for residents is environmentally valuable and benefits our neighborhoods,” said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. “Compost is a natural fertilizer and is an excellent soil enrichment that promotes the healthy growth of plants and grass.”

With a little extra effort — and maybe the use of a car — trees can also be brought to one of 16 locations throughout the borough (there are more throughout the rest of the city) to participate in the 14th annual MulchFest held by the Parks Department.

On Saturday, Jan 9 and Sunday, Jan 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., bring your tree to be mulched at one of the designated parks, which are indicated as either chipping sites or drop-off sites. At chipping sites, you are encouraged to bring plastic bags; you can take home free mulch for your own garden.

“Chipping machines” turn dead trees into mulch, which is used in tree pits and horticultural areas, conserving warmth and soil moisture during wintertime, and preventing weed growth.

There are more than 80 parks participating in this year’s MulchFest. Chipping sites in Brooklyn are Added Value Community Farm at 305 Van Brunt St.; Cobble Hill Park at Verandah Place and Clinton Street; Fort Greene Park at Washington Park and Willoughby Avenue; Hattie Carthan Garde at Lafayette Avenue and Clifton Place; Marine Park at Avenue U and 33rd Street; McCarren Park at Driggs Avenue and Lorimer Street; Owl’s Head Park at Third Street at Prospect Park West; and Prospect Park Circle at Parkside Avenue and PRospect Park Southwest.

Drop-off sites in Brooklyn are Coffey Park at Dwight Street and Verona Street; Green-Wood Cemetery at 25th Street and Fourth Avenue; Lincoln Terrace Park at Buffalo Avenue between East New York Avenue and Eastern Parkway; Maria Hernandez Park between Knickerbocker Avenue and Suydam Street; McGolrick Park at Moniter Street and Driggs Avenue; Prospect Heights Community Garden at 252-256 St. Marks Ave.; and Sunset Park at 44th St and Sixth Avenue.

Click here for more information about curbside collection, and here for more information on MulchFest. To volunteer during either day, visit milliontrees.org.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Recycling Outreach in Brooklyn

I’m sure many of you, while dutifully putting your paper recyclables in the green bins, and metal, glass and plastic recyclables in the blue bins, have often wondered: When the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) picks these up, do they really go to a recycling center?

According to David Hurd, director of the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE) at the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) — which is not a city agency — they do.

“So many New Yorkers want to believe that the Department of Sanitation is actually not recycling the recyclables that they pick up,” he said. “That’s absolutely false.”

In some cases, people are recycling less or not recycling at all. So, through OROE, “What we try to do is basically get people to understand the program,” he explained. “To debunk the classic myth.”

CENYC, which is almost 40 years old, created OROE in 2006. Five outreach coordinators tackle each borough by community district, using a Residential Waste Characterization Study conducted by DSNY to target the districts that have low recycling diversion rates first.

Brooklyn’s recycling outreach coordinator, Jae Watkins, says of her approach, “I try to find active community groups in the districts.” At their meetings she does a presentation with samples, “a collection of things that are both recyclable and not recyclable. I clear up the confusion about the program.”

Much confusion is generated from what DSNY does and does not collect. Plastic bottles are the only type of plastic that can be recycled; yogurt and takeout containers are not recyclable. Milk cartons seem like they should go out with paper and cardboard, but they actually get recycled with plastics and metals. Also, household items that are at least 50 percent metal — pots and pans, irons, toasters and wire hangers — can be recycled.

Watkins mostly speaks to building owners, giving them tips about ways to make recycling easier in their buildings, such as making sure their bins are in places that are well-lit and clean.

Of the neighborhoods Watkins has tackled so far, she said, “I started out in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area a couple of years ago and then I moved to Bed-Stuy, and then Bushwick, and now I’m working in the CB 2 area, Fort Greene.”

Once she’s established herself in a community district, Watkins says she remains a resource for recycling questions and requests. She gets calls every once in a while from building owners who are looking for more ways to educate their tenants, such as getting signs in languages other than English.

“A lot of people, they have all these questions but they don’t know who to ask,” Watkins said.

Though she has covered a lot of ground in her three years at CENYC, Watkins still has a ways to go. “It takes six months to really get in good in a community district, and there are 18,” she said.

“What I think makes us effective is that staff really does try to completely absorb the neighborhood,” Hurd said. “Not only do we use data from the Department of Sanitation study, but we also use demographic data from the Department of City Planning to identify larger target population groups.”

OROE also identifies the other opportunities that exist in neighborhoods, such as composting, appliance repair shops, or shoe repair shops, Hurd explained, to make objects last longer rather than be thrown out.

“We’re trying to get people to remember that whole concept, that garbage is a choice that we make,” he continued. “There are a lot of things that are perfectly good but we decide that they are no longer good for us. We try to talk about changing that mentality where we can.”

For more information about recycling, visit www.cenyc.org.

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The Actifist: Connecting New Yorkers to Copenhagen

Documenting Chris Neidl's third day at the climate conference is a clip about the "actifist," an interactive installation designed by Adam Harvey that connects New York to Copenhagen. When New Yorkers slam their fists down onto a podium here in support of a science-based climate change treaty, an artificial fist slams down on the other end. Check it out in action:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

See Brooklyn's Parks at Museum of the City of NY

In October photographer Joel Meyerowitz released Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks, a collection of photographs documenting the almost 9,000 acres of parks in the five boroughs of the city.

Commissioned by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the book features 250 photos of green spaces from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx (the largest park in the city at over 2,700 acres), to Riverside Park in Manhattan, to High Rock Park in Staten Island.

Naturally, there are a large number of photographs taken in Brooklyn, most from Prospect Park.
Eagle editor Raanan Geberer spoke with Meyerowitz last month, you can read his story here. Last week, I took a tour of the accompanying exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, given by the photographer himself.

Split into three rooms, works in the first two rooms are printed on large sheets of recyclable Tyvek paper.
Meyerowitz explained that he also used biodegradable ink for the prints, “a green process for a show about the environment.”

Upon walking into the exhibit, you are literally in the Bronx River, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling photos and a photo on the floor, “so you can walk on water,”
Meyerowitz said. Going to the next room, you proceed “from river into woodlands” he explained, where there are more Tyvek prints, this time of various trees and woods throughout the city.

The final stage of the exhibit is a larger room with dozens of photographs separated by Borough. Brooklyn is represented by Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park, Marine Park, Louis Valentino Jr. Park, Owl’s Head Park and Sunset Park.

I thought the exhibit was amazing, particularly Bronx River room — it was as if we actually were in the river. I was blown away by these photographs, because when I think of New York City, I don’t really think of wilderness. So many of the pieces have no urban elements, if I didn’t know they were taken in the city, I would never guess.

Meyerowitz gives a fresh and much-needed look at the green spaces around us, and I think (I hope) as people see his photos, they have a new appreciation and respect for what’s in them.

The Legacy photography exhibit will continue through March 21. For more information, visit www.mcny.org/exhibitions/current/Legacy.html.

All photos of Prospect Park. Top photo: Long Meadow, autumn. Middle photo: Wellhouse Drive, spring. Bottom photo: woods in the Ravine, autumn.

Copyright Joel Meyerowitz, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY

Scientist James Hansen Speaks at Secret Science Club in Brooklyn

Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and adjunct professor at Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Science, James Hansen, visited the Secret Science Club at the Bell House on Tuesday evening to speak about the climate crisis.

He doubted that the climate conference in Copenhagen will change much, while warning that environmental troubles are nearing a "tipping point" of no return unless action is taken while there is still hope. Though "CO2 has already passed its limits into the dangerous zone," Hansen said, "we can still reverse it."

His solutions are to "phase out coal, prohibit carbon fuel, improve forest practices and re-forest lands, and institute no-till agriculture."

reporter Harold Egeln went to the meeting. You can read his full story here.

Party and Benefit for Bushwick Farmers' Market

This Sunday, Dec 20, a party and benefit for the Bushwick Farmers’ Market, the “Winter Solstice Feast,” will be held at 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick from 6 p.m. to midnight.

An annual tradition hosted by of some of the market’s organizers, this year the hosts have asked attendees who are able to make donations in support of the Farmer’s Market, which is just finishing its first year but lacks necessary funding for 2010. There will be opportunities for giving during the event and there is no cover charge.

There will be live entertainment, a silent auction and food. The event is BYOB/N — bring your own bottle and napkin — to make the event as low-impact as possible.

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.bushwickfarmersmarket.org/solstice/.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On the Scene at COP 15, Days 1 and 2

Brooklynite Chris Neidl, advocacy coordinator for Solar One, traveled to Copenhagen last weekend for the climate conference. He's documenting his experiences along the way and sharing them with GreenBeat Brooklyn. Here are videos from Neidl's first two days:

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy 15th, Recycle-A-Bicycle!

Recycle-A-Bicycle’s 15th Birthday Celebration is tonight at Superfine Restaurant, 126 Front St. in DUMBO from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission prices start at $20, all above $50 come with a Recycle-A-Bicycle T-shirt.

The celebration will include a benefit for the organization, which is a community-based bike shop and non-profit organization that provides educational/job training programs and encourages environmental stewardship and everyday bicycle use. The auction will feature twelve orange NY400 Batavus Bicycles (only 200 exist in the world) and bike-themed art.

Other bikes and biked themed objects such as bike jewelry, bike animal sculptures, bike chairs, bike lamps, and more will be for display and sale. All proceeds directly support Recycle-A-Bicycle’s youth and environmental programming.

In this past year alone, Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) has worked with more than 1,000 young people and collectively pedaled more than 10,000 miles. On average, RAB salvages 1,200 bicycles each year from the waste stream, diverting a total of 36,000 pounds of waste from NYC’s landfills.

Visit www.recycleabicycle.org for more information or to donate to the organization.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Brooklyn Green Team Eco-Challenge

The Brooklyn Green Team is back with a new challenge: reconsidering red meat. Join them and eat less beef! According to Treehugger, red meat is the most resource-intensive food on the table and eating less of it can be the single most green move a person makes.

A couple of alarming facts the team shares with us:

A study in New Scientist magazine reported that the production of one kilogram of beef produced as many greenhouse gases as three hours of driving.

Experts predict that by 2050 nearly twice as much meat will be produced as today, for a projected total of more than 465 million tons. (Worldwatch Institute)

Other types of meat (chicken, fish, pork, turkey, and venison) are excluded from the challenge, sign up by emailing brooklyngreen@gmail.com. Visit the Green Team's blog for more information, resources and encouragement.

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Park Slope Petitions Obama For Leadership On Climate Defense

The Eagle received this press release:

On Sunday, Park Slope citizens had a chance to tell President Barack Obama that real cuts in carbon emissions are necessary to avoid environmental catastrophe, as activists from the Park Slope Greens and Parents For Climate Protection collected signatures to send to the White House.

In under two hours the activists collected close to 150 signed pledge cards from Brooklynites, stating that US legislation and policies must cut climate pollution by at least 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050. These are the targets that climate scientists say are necessary to avoid a climate crisis.

The Obama administration’s earlier announcement of cuts of 6 percent from 1990 levels fall far short of the warnings of the scientific community.

In addition to posters and literature about the climate defense movement, the activists displayed a dozen home-made ice globes that melted in the afternoon sun to symbolize the need for climate defense now, as glaciers and arctic sea ice recede every year.

Activists in attendance included David Pechefsky, Green Party 2009 Candidate For City Council, and Gloria Mattera, Green Party Candidate For Brooklyn Borough President in 2005.

The pledge cards will be mailed to the White House before President Obama appears at the Copenhagen conference on December 18th.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Three Brooklyn Students Are Finalists in 'Green Teen' Essay Contest

Six New York City students — three from Brooklyn — were finalists in the second annual Green Teens Essay Contest. It was a competition which invites young writers ages 12 to 18 to submit a 300-word personal essay about how they will help Mayor Bloomberg implement MillionTreesNYC, which is a PlaNYC initiative to plant and care for one million trees by 2017.

The grand prize winner of the contest (who was from Manhattan) received $1,000, two runners up received $500 each, and three honorable mentions received $100 each.

“Growing young minds through environmental awareness is the key to success in greening New York City,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “These green teens have demonstrated a savvy understanding of the immense health and environmental benefits of trees, and they have generated a number of creative ideas to engage even more New Yorkers in MillionTreesNYC. We look forward to working with the essay finalists to further develop their ideas for implementation and help create a greener, greater New York City.”

Runner up Nedine Dobson, 17, from Clara Barton High School in Crown Heights titled her essay, “A Melting Pot of Beautiful People With Beautiful Trees,” and in it wrote, “Each school district should be responsible for involving each school in the district to embark on a go green project. The project will require groups of students to be responsible for the design of areas in their school district to plant trees — this initiative promises to make New York, with its melting pot of beautiful people, a garden of beautiful trees.”

Eric Murray Datcher, 16, from the Bushwick High School for Social Justice, earned an honorable mention with his essay, writing, “The key to the Mayor’s plan is involving the youth of New York City. There are young people throughout the city who are simply waiting for an opportunity to make a major change. The Million Trees project could be that change to unite the youth in a positive project. I believe I can use my strong voice to gather more students, young people, and community members to beautify more places throughout New York City.”

Jamel Irby-Shabazz, 12, of Park Place Middle School in Park Slope, also earned an honorable mention with his essay, in which he wrote, “Every month we will get teens to sign up as a special citizenship program with the NYC Parks Department to help plant trees. Teens will then make a difference in their community and experience something positive in their community. The teens will also be able to place their family name on the trees. I also believe that a million trees will equal a million healthy breaths. A million healthy breaths can help a brain learn and be more conscious about the environment in which we live.”

The essay contest was sponsored by Flowerworks Florist & Landscape Contractor, Carver Federal Savings Bank, Our Time Press, and Gxart Studio. Essay finalists were honored on November 19th at Restoration Plaza on Fulton Street, in an event celebrating the newly-formed Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District (BID).

For more information about MillionTreesNYC, visit www.milliontreesnyc.org.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Environmental Film Screening at St. Francis in Brooklyn

Tomorrow, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m., attend a free screening of the film
Split Estate in the main auditorium at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen St. between Clinton and Court streets. The screening is co-sponsored by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats and is hosted by Ken Lowy.

About the film, from its web site:

"Imagine discovering that you don't own the mineral rights under your land, and that an energy company plans to drill for natural gas two hundred feet from your front door. Imagine having little recourse, other than accepting an unregulated industry in your backyard. Split Estate maps a tragedy in the making, as citizens in the path of a new drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West struggle against the erosion of their civil liberties, their communities and their health.

Zeroing in on Garfield County, Colorado, and the San Juan Basin, this clarion call for accountability examines the growing environmental and social costs to an area now referred to as a 'National Sacrifice Zone.'

This is no Love Canal or Three Mile Island. With its breathtaking panoramas, aspen-dotted meadows, and clear mountain streams, this is the Colorado of John Denver anthems — the wide-open spaces that have long stirred our national imagination.

Exempt from federal protections like the Clean Water Act, the oil and gas industry has left this idyllic landscape and its rural communities pockmarked with abandoned homes and polluted waters. One Garfield County resident demonstrates the degree of benzene contamination in a mountain stream by setting it alight with a match. Many others, gravely ill, fight for their health and for the health of their children. All the while, the industry assures us it is a "good neighbor."

Ordinary homeowners and ranchers absorb the cost. Actually, we all pay the price in this devastating clash of interests that extends well beyond the Rockies. Aggressively seeking new leases in as many as 32 states, the industry is even making a bid to drill in the New York City watershed, which provides drinking water to millions.

As public health concerns mount, Split Estate cracks the sugarcoating on an industry touted as a clean alternative to fossil fuels, and poignantly drives home the need for real alternatives."

For more information, www.splitestate.com.

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Isabella Rossellini to Debut 'Green Porno' in Greenpoint

Screen goddess/model/director Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet) will be at Word Bookstore in Greenpoint on Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. for a screening/Q&A/book signing of Green Porno — her book and accompanying short film series about the sex lives of marine animals, insects and other creatures. Tickets are $25 and include one copy of the book and two seats at the screening. They are available at www.wordbrooklyn.com. For those of you not up on film icons, Rossellini is the daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca) and director Roberto Rossellini.
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