Friday, March 26, 2010

First Greenway Workshop 'High-Energy, Productive'

Thursday night was the first of four workshops hosted by the DOT in collaboration with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) and the Regional Planning Association to hash out details for the 14-mile route with community members. It was held at Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn.
“We had a high-energy, productive workshop,” said BGI co-founder Meg Fellerath in an e-mail message. She explained that there were about 60 community participants, who worked in facilitated groups to come up with route preferences for the Greenway in the Downtown Brooklyn area.
“Lots of thoughtful ideas were presented during the report-back to the large group, and DOT will be taking all of this into consideration as they look at different route alternatives. DOT will present their synthesis back to the community in a few months for comment,” Fellerath continued. “DOT felt that it was a great turnout and level of excitement, and they’re looking forward to the next meeting.”
The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is a 14-mile, multi-use, off-road path spanning from Greenpoint all the way down to Bay Ridge. It was envisioned by Brian McCormick, Milton Puryear and Fellerath, who incorporated as the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in 2004. They celebrated BGI’s sixth anniversary this month.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lights Out. One Hour. This Weekend.

This Saturday March 27, at 8:30 p.m. local time, join millions of people around the world to take action and send a message about climate change by participating in Earth Hour. Started by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise awareness about climate change, Earth Hour is a way to demonstrate how working together can have a positive impact. Last year, almost one billion people in more than 4,000 cities turned their lights off for one hour, as well as some New York City landmarks, including the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.
Above, the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges before Earth Hour last year. Below, the bridges during Earth Hour. 
Visit to get involved and spread the word.
Photos courtesy of the WWF

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DOT Announces Workshops For Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it will host a series of community workshops on the future of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway — a planned 14-mile bicycle and pedestrian path stretching from Sunset Park to Greenpoint. When finished, it will connect many existing parks and public open spaces along the waterfront.
With funding from Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, the Greenway will enhance waterfront access, improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and increase recreational opportunities in these areas, many of which are along underused and difficult-to-access corridors. While portions of the plan have been implemented in sections — including along Columbia Street in Red Hook — DOT is currently conducting a master planning process to refine the project elements and to target gaps in the network. Feedback from the workshops will help the city identify goals for the DOT to work on with other agencies as it develops a long-term vision to implement in the coming years.
The series of four workshops includes one in each of the four waterfront community districts spanned by the Greenway. They will be held in collaboration with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) and the Regional Planning Association and are scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at these locations:
Downtown Brooklyn
Thursday, March 25
Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St.
Sunset Park
Thursday, April 8
St. Michael R.C. Church, Fourth Avenue and 42nd Street
Red Hook
Tuesday, April 13
Red Hook Recreation Center, 155 Bay St.
Thursday, April 22
Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th St.
This announcement comes in conjunction with BGI’s sixth anniversary. Milton Puryear, Brian McCormick and Meg Fellerath incorporated as the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in 2004. They envisioned the 14-mile off-road path spanning from Greenpoint all the way down to Bay Ridge to be multi-use and have different components.
According to BGI’s plan, the path will be between 20 and 30 feet wide in total, encompassing a 4- to 8-foot landscaped buffer between it and the street, a 10- to 12-foot bike bath, and a 6- to 10-foot pedestrian path.
BGI hosts monthly cleanups along the Columbia Street section of the Greenway. The next one will be on Saturday, April 22.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Brooklyn Green Team's Urban Gardening Challenge

Local eco-superheroes the Brooklyn Green Team have started a new eco-challenge, this time geared toward urban gardening. Don't know how to start a garden? Think you can't start one in your apartment? Visit the green team's blog for resources and tips.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Senator Golden Honors Bay Ridge Food Co-op Coordinators

Last Thursday at the Bay Ridge Manor, Senator Marty Golden recognized residents of the neighborhood who performed exceptional community services in 2009. Among the honorees were David Marangio (right) and Larry Benner (middle), pictured here with Sen. Golden (left), coordinators of the Bay Ridge Food Co-op. They have been working tirelessly to start the co-op, which as of right now does not yet have a location. To learn more about the Bay Ridge Food Co-op — or food co-ops in general — visit their web site, follow their Twitter feed, or check them out on Facebook
Photo by Marc Hibsher

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Council on Environment of NYC Gets a Makeover

Upon hearing the name “Council on the Environment of New York City,” many people assume the organization is a city agency. Still others aren’t aware that this organization has been responsible for the city’s greenmarkets since the very first one opened in 1976.

Because of these problems, said spokesperson Amanda Gentile, the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) underwent an almost year-long re-branding process, working with its board, staff and pro-bono consultants, including the Harvards Business School Alumni Association. The end result: a new name, GrowNYC. 

The new logo, circular with the new name and a green apple in the middle, is surrounded by the words “Greenmarket,” “Garden,” “Teach” and “Recycle,” representing the organization’s programs. 

While the logo is new, GrowNYC’s mission will remain the same, which is to “give people the tools and the education and the resources to make New York City a more sustainable environment,” assistant director Julie Walsh told the Eagle in a previous interview. “It’s by the people, of the people, and for the people.”

GrowNYC has operated over 45 Greenmarkets city-wide — with 11 in Brooklyn — since the program began in 1976, with 11 in Brooklyn. The one at Borough Hall — one of the city’s oldest — celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. 

Executive director Marcel Van Ooyen said last year that this greenmarket “is an example of all that we’ve been able to accomplish,” and that it’s one of the most popular.

The Open Space Greening (OSG) program, founded in 1975, has helped neighborhoods build and sustain over 60 community gardens throughout the city, 26 in Brooklyn.

A relatively new program, the Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE), started in 2006 sends representatives out into the boroughs to educate residents about the city’s curbside recycling program, encouraging them to take advantage of it.

“What we try to do is basically get people to understand the program,” said David Hurd, director of OROE, in December. “To debunk the classic myth [that recyclables don’t get recycled].”

GrowNYC has three different programs geared toward educating the city’s youth: Training Student Organizers (TSO), “Learn It, Grow It, Eat It” and Greenmarket Youth Education Project. Through TSO, students have built and demonstrated solar ovens, planted trees, removed invasive species and learned about New York City’s watershed.

In some cases, the presence of these youthmarkets has helped make neighborhoods safer. Walsh told about one particular youthmarket in a south Bronx neighborhood near a police surveillance tower. “Within two weeks of the market operating, [the police] were able to leave,” Walsh told the Eagle.

“We want people to engage in behaviors that will make a more sustainable city — behaviors that they will carry with them,” she continued. 

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Flatbush Students Win Award for Green Entrepreneurship

Two students from Magen David Yeshiva in Brooklyn, Isaac Lati, 16, and Morris Jaradeh, 17 — both of Flatbush — have been named winners of the 2009-2010 J. Morton Davis/Lander College for Men Student Entrepreneur of the Year Competition. They won for their invention “Winergy,” a turbine that captures hot air released by central air conditioner condenser units and recycles it back into the unit, thereby saving both homeowners and commercial building owners energy and money.

Lati and Jaradeh said they got their idea last year, when solar panels and wind turbines began to make headlines in the news. “We had an in-school entrepreneurship competition and we both absorbed what was going on during the economic crash,” Lati said.  “Right around the presidential election, a lot of discussions were taking place about alternate sources of energy. I looked around my home and I realized that the wasted air from the air conditioning unit could be used in a way that might prove practical.”

“In addition to their creativity and sound presentation, the team of Lati and Jaradeh zeroed in on an issue that is front and center in today’s world — green solutions for saving energy and money,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of Touro College’s Lander College for Men (LCM). “We were all impressed with their ingenuity and drive to create something that has the potential to benefit homeowners and businesses worldwide.”

Five teams of students were selected as finalists out of 31 submissions and invited to give oral presentations. The winners were chosen for their creativity, sound business plans, and oral presentations.  Prizes totaling $3,000 were awarded, with $1,500 going to the grand prize winners; $1,000 to the second place winners; and $500 to the third place winner. All five teams received plaques honoring their achievements.

Photo above, left to right: Dr. Moshe Sokol, Dean of LCM; Professor Larry Bellman, formerly of Touro College and the developer and inspiration for the contest; winner Morris Jaradeh; Dr. Ira Teich, assistant professor of marketing and management at LCM and director of this year’s competition; and winner Isaac Lati. Photo by James Musumeci

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Opens Flagship Store in Greenpoint

This past Saturday, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (VLAIC), a Brooklyn-based ice cream company committed to minimizing its carbon footprint, opened its first storefront at 632 Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint. VLAIC had previously operated out of ice cream trucks stationed around the city.
The business began two years ago by brothers Ben and Peter Van Leeuwen and Laura O'Neill, Ben's wife, from testing recipes in their Greenpoint home. O'Neill told the Eagle last year, "We always wanted to have a smaller impact on the environment," explaining that they keep the trucks stationary, use fresh, local and organic ingredients whenever possible, and make the ice cream from hormone-free fresh milk and cream from farms in upstate New York.
Also minimizing VLAIC's environmental impact are the disposable goods used, which are made from 100 percent renewable resources. The cups and napkins are Bagasse, a fiber made from sugar cane husk; and the drink cups, spoons and straws are made from corn husks.
The freezers in the ice cream trucks are plate freezers and charge overnight, meaning they don't need to be plugged in every day. "We just have a very small generator to run the lights and cash register," said O'Neill. "This means our trucks are nice and quiet and not burning unnecessary fuel all day."
Check out VLAIC's Twitter feed for daily updates of truck locations.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sustainable Flatbush to Host Energy Forum

Sustainable Flatbush and its partners will host a Neighborhood Energy Forum on Saturday, March 20, 2010, at the Brooklyn College Student Center, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. At this event homeowners, tenant organizations, landlords, and building managers will learn what they need to get started with major energy efficiency projects — from energy audits to weatherization to solar-electric, for both large multi-family buildings and one- to four-family homes.
“Inefficiency drives up energy costs, contributes to air pollution — almost 80% of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by buildings — and hurts everybody, especially low-income people. That is why Sustainable Flatbush is organizing this event, to help residential building stakeholders raise the money they need for major energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects, and for neighbors to share resources and best practices,” said Anne Pope, executive director of Sustainable Flatbush.
Event partners so far include National Grid, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), ConEd, and Flatbush Development Corporation.

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