Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brooklyn Green Team to Host Second Anniversary Party

This Saturday, Jan. 30, the Brooklyn Green Team will celebrate its second anniversary with an 80s-themed party at Bar Reis on 375 Fifth Ave. in Park Slope. For a $10 cover charge, sample local and organic drink specials and participate in a silent auction. Items in the silent auction include a gift certificate to Park Slope restaurant Aunt Suzie's, a $100 gift certificate to Green Apple Cleaners, a nature photograph donated by Green Team founder Amanda Gentile, a “greenmarket” basket donated by the Council on the Environment of New York City, a free yoga class, and more.
City Council Member Brad Lander will speak at the party, and a DJ will spin 80s music starting at 11 p.m. Attendees will receive $20 gift certificates to Green Apple Cleaners, while supplies last.
Money raised at the party will benefit Haiti relief efforts and will also aid local electronics recycling, according to Gentile.
The Brooklyn Green Team is comprised of a group of friends — sisters Amanda and Noelle Gentile, Melissa Browning, Jennifer Bartels, Johanna Voutounou and Robert Weinstein — who got together after seeing the film The 11th Hour and wanted to inspire positive change. They hold regular eco-challenges to raise environmental awareness.

Photo above is from the Green Team's first anniversary party. From left to right: Noelle Gentile, Johanna Voutounou, Amanda Gentile, Jennifer Bartels, Melissa Browning and Robert Weinstein. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Green Team

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brooklyn Public Library Announces Power Up! Winners

Last week, the Brooklyn Public Library announced the winners of its sixth annual, Power Up! business plan competition. One of the second place winners, taking home a cash prize of $5,000, submitted a plan with a green theme.

Prospect Heights resident Vandra Thorburn (above left) proposed Vokashi Kitchen Waste, a simple, natural solution to disposing of kitchen refuse. This business will give residential households a small catering companies the tools to recycle their food waste — primarily, a product that ferments discarded food and distributes it to composting sites where it becomes organic soil. The process is natural and easy.
Read about the rest of the winners here
It seems Power Up! winners commonly have green business plans. One of last year's second place winners was Elissa Olin, who proposed the plan for a green home goods store, Green in BKLYN, which she then opened in Clinton Hill on Earth Day last year. 

Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Yorkers Recycle — A Message From CENYC

In December, I caught up with David Hurd, director of the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE) at the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), and Jae Watkins, Brooklyn's recycling outreach coordinator, for a story about recycling. During our interview, they showed me a video CENYC compiled of New Yorkers talking about the guidelines for recycling in New York City. Hurd explained that the video was a "good way to extend [CENYC's] outreach," and get the message out to more people about recycling. Check it out:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Electronics Recycling at Prospect Park in Brooklyn

This Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., bring your electronic waste to be recycled at Prospect Park West and Third Street. Volunteers from the Lower East Side Ecology Center will collect items such as old computers, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, modems, DVD players, VCRs, cell phones and answering machines. Kitchen equipment is not accepted.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Obsolete Macintosh Computers Become Works of Art in Gowanus

It’s long been a tradition for Macintosh hobbyists to convert their old, cherished computers into something else — a fish tank, for example. With this idea in mind, Jeff Graber, owner of the Mac Support Store in Gowanus, looked at the pile of obsolete computer equipment in his store and wondered, what could be done with it?

Since the Mac Support Store is part of NYC's Retailer Take-Back Program, the equipment was slated to be recycled. But Graber and Brooklyn curators Michele Jaslow and Spring Hofeldt decided to put out a call for artists to use them to create art pieces.

The result is the show “Programmed,” which opened on Dec. 21 at the Mac Support Store, with a satellite exhibit in the windows of wine shop Red White & Bubbly on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.

Eight artists contributed 12 pieces to the show, three of whom are Brooklyn-based. “[The artists’] work speaks to the idea of how quickly these electronics become obsolete,” Jaslow said. “What happens to the old, which is relatively not so old.”

The work in the show is diverse; Jaslow described a necklace made out of an iPod and a working lie detector made out of computer parts. Brooklyn artist Noah Fischer created a multimedia installation called “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish,” (left) named for a commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. The expansive piece comprised of stacks and piles of computer parts with blinking lights set to a soundtrack of Jobs’ speech fills the better part of a room. See the video below.

Brooklyn artist Kimberly Simpson’s work (right), a “video reliquary” dedicated to “Saint Obsoleta.” According to her artist statement, it is inspired by the computer parts and by medieval reliquaries which protect a saintly relic. The patron saint of outmoded objects, Saint Obsoleta encourages humans to adopt new technologies in order to replace the old. She also acts as a guide, directing obsolete technologies and outdated electronic items to their final resting place.

Nancy Lunsford, a Park Slope artist and founder of 440 Gallery, contributed pieces based on quilt patterns (top, left). She was surprised when working with the computer parts, she said. “It was much more colorful than I anticipated, much more delicate.”

Using pieces from computers juxtaposed with children’s pacifiers symbolizes how people are “pacified by computers,” Lunsford said.

With her work, Lunsford wanted to emphasize the human-machine connection. “[Computers] are made by human beings, they are used by human beings... they are more human than we think and we are more machine than we think.”

Graber, too, wants viewers to take away from the show a new way to think about their relationship with computers. “I hope it stimulates people to think about and interact with their electronics,” he said, explaining that we spend so much time using the computer when it’s on that “when it’s off, it takes on a whole new meaning.”

What originally inspired Jaslow, she said, is “what happens to these electronics when you’re done with them, [asking] what is their place in our community, what is their place in art... looking at things in a different way.”
But the most important message Graber hopes people take away from “Programmed” is that, “Computers and electronics must be recycled. There are so many toxic elements within computers and electronics.”

“Programmed” features work by Noah Fisher, Liesl Hazelton, Nancy Lunsford, Mario Marchese, Ryan Mcintosh, Patricia Paludanus and Kimberly Simpson. The satellite installation features work by Ryan Seslow.

The show will continue at the Mac Support Store through March 13, with a reception this Friday, Jan. 15, from 6 to 9 p.m., sponsored by Red White & Bubbly, which is open to the public. For more information, click here.

Photos courtesy of Michele Jaslow.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Brooklyn Collects Second Highest Number of Trees at MulchFest

This past weekend was the 14th annual MulchFest, a citywide event held by the Parks Department where New Yorkers can bring their Christmas trees to locations throughout the five boroughs to be chipped into mulch. This year was the most successful: 23,615 trees were collected from around the city – a 38 percent increase from last year. New Yorkers from Manhattan brought out the most trees of all the boroughs at 10,533, followed closely by Brooklyn’s 7,477. For more information, click here

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Bloomberg Releases PlaNYC Study of Future of Electric Vehicles in NYC

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the results of a study of what the city government and other sectors can do to foster the use of electric vehicles and what factors would lead New Yorkers to drive them.

Developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, the study found ways to facilitate adoption of this technology in the short-term. Transportation emissions currently account for 22 percent of New York City’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The study found that there is a potentially large group of New Yorkers in all five boroughs who are willing to change their behavior to accommodate electric vehicles and become “early adopters.” Market research projects that by 2015, up to 16 percent of all new vehicles purchased by New Yorkers could be electric.

The study found that early adopters are willing to change their habits to adapt to an electric vehicle, including switching from an on-street parking space to a parking garage that has a charging station (see New York's first — in Brooklyn — here). The research also found that consumers’ attitudes, rather than their driving or parking behaviors, are strong indications of their willingness to adopt electric vehicles.

Early adopters also understand that electric vehicles will cost more than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle — and they appear willing to pay that premium for the benefits that electric vehicles will offer them. This suggests that in the short-term tax incentives may not be necessary to attract additional demand.

Manufacturers have announced more than a dozen highway-capable electric vehicle models for introduction between 2010 and 2012, in limited global production. Because the demand of early adopters is projected to outstrip the available supply of electric vehicles to the New York market for the next five years, the study suggests targeting early adopters and delaying a focus on the “average driver” for several years.

Ways to help early adopters enter the electric vehicle market include providing clear information on the benefits and challenges of using an electric vehicle and developing a convenient and easy-to-understand process to install charging equipment.

The study also found that the projected level of adoption of electric vehicles will not unduly tax the electrical grid as long as most chargers are configured to allow charging to take place during off-peak hours.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Fifth Annual Memorial Bike Ride Honors Brooklyn Cyclists Killed

On Jan. 4, according to Gothamist, a small group of bicyclists participated in the fifth annual memorial bike ride for cyclist-related deaths in 2009, of which there were an estimated 10. The gathering rode across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to sites of fatalities, which are indicated by white-painted “Ghost Bikes.”
Gothamist has photos of Ghost Bikes in Brooklyn, and reported that the ride culminated in a dedication of an eleventh Ghost Bike at Greenpoint Reformed Church. This bike honors unknown cyclists and walkers killed by motor vehicles
The memorial rides are intended to give a message. “We have to change the ‘Wild West’ atmosphere of our streets,” said Wiley Norvell, spokesman for bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, after last year’s ride.
The Ghost Bikes, Norvell explained, are “personal memorials that call attention to the cost our streets inflict on us.” Each one is personalized by families of cyclists who have been killed, and are a “perpetual reminder.”
The goal is to bring the number of deaths down to zero, he continued, explaining that right now, streets are designed for cars. "It would be different if safety were a priority."

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