Tag: Green Building

Newkirk Avenue Block Party!

Some months ago Sustainable Flatbush was approached by New York City Streets Renaissance to sponsor a Livable Streets Block Party here in the neighborhood (this request was likely inspired by our success with last year’s Park(ing) Day event). Two weeks from tomorrow, Saturday June 21st, […]

Recycle Your CFLs at Brooklyn Green Drinks!

I’ve received a number of inquiries lately from folks wondering where to recycle CFL bulbs locally (the bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, and shouldn’t be thrown out with the trash). This Wednesday the answer is at Brooklyn Green Drinks, hosted by Center for […]

Imagine Flatbush 2030

Imagine Flatbush 2030 logo
(Imagine Flatbush logo by Imani Aegedoy)

Last night was the first meeting of Imagine Flatbush 2030, a “community visioning project” sponsored by the Municipal Arts Society and Flatbush Development Corporation. The project’s purpose is to engage neighborhood stakeholders (to my delight, I was asked to be on the Advisory Committee… guess that makes me a stakeholder!) in a sustainability discussion and planning process at the local level:

As part of Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York, MAS will work with the residents, business owners, and civic leaders of Flatbush, Brooklyn, with the partnership of the Flatbush Development Corporation, to assist in creating neighborhood sustainability goals and tools to measure progress toward consensus-based goals. Flatbush is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city, growing at a rate of eight percent annually, and mirroring the needs and attributes of a growing population within a district that is both architecturally and historically distinct. Yet the lack of affordable housing undermines the ability of the neighborhood to stay diverse, the resident to open space ratio is among the highest in the city, and heavy vehicular traffic compromises the quality of life.

In other words, what do we want our neighborhood to look like in the future, both immediate and distant? How can we accommodate population growth while maintaining the things about our neighborhood’s character that we love? What are the unique assets and challenges we have to work with in this process?

Before breaking into small discussion groups we heard from environmental justice activist and Executive Director of UPROSE (United Puerto Rican Association of Sunset Park) Elizabeth Yeampierre on the need for New York City to urgently address climate change by rethinking ALL of the choices we make in our lives. She is a great speaker who has received many awards and accolades for her leadership in organizing intergenerational groups in disenfranchised communities to unite against social, economic, and environmental injustice. I was really struck by her description of how UPROSE evolved from fighting against things in their community to planning for things, and the sense of empowerment that came with that evolution. Here in Flatbush we are fortunate to not be fighting against highway expansions and power plant sitings and irresponsible brownfield development, and also to have many motivated and talented people to work for the positive changes we want to see. We are rich in social and creative capital, and Imagine Flatbush 2030 is an opportunity to utilize those human resources.

Upon reconvening from the group discussions, we learned that there was mostly consensus on what we love about Flatbush and want to preserve and build on — diversity of population (ethnic, cultural, religious, economic), variety of housing stock, locally-owned businesses, good public transportation, good schools — and what we feel is lacking — affordable housing, public green space, places to gather for social interaction, retail selection (too many pharmacies, not enough grocery stores), opportunities for youth, arts and cultural amenities.

Some issues that were touched upon and that I hope to discuss in more depth include energy efficiency retrofits for apartment buildings and houses (which would help keep housing affordable for current residents and owners); improving and expanding public transportation, especially “crosstown” bus service; better pedestrian and bicycle amenities; and — the big one — promoting a sustainable approach to urban living that prepares us for future environmental challenges. Elizabeth Yeampierre put it out there: “We all love our SUVs, but I might have to think about sitting my bodacious hips down on a bike“. Like she said…

The next meeting of Imagine Flatbush will be on December 12th at Brooklyn College. If you’ve read this far chances are you’re a stakeholder too… and you are invited! I’ll post the details here when they become available.

Support BCUE with Eco-Shopping!

Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment does great work educating children and adults about the built and natural environments of New York City. Their activities range from walking tours of Brooklyn neighborhoods to canoing the Gowanus Canal to a bicycle tour of Newtown Creek, and […]

Science Barge – Powered By Nature!

Science Barge – Powered By Nature!, originally uploaded by Sustainable Flatbush. Finally visited the Science Barge during GreenHome NYC’s Green Buildings Open House. The Science Barge is a sustainable urban farm. It demonstrates renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York City. The Science […]

Bike Tour Hits the Road

“How I Spent My Summer Vacation” continues, with more photos and anecdotes from the sustainability bicycle tour I went on in August…


Maitreya Eco-village, Eugene, OR

The trip began in Eugene, where we camped for the first few nights at a place called Dharmalaya. This is a privately owned home with land that hosts a yoga and meditation studio and acts as a community center for concerts and educational events. It is also an experiment in sustainable living, with an organic garden, composting toilets, and greywater reuse system. (More on Dharmalaya, including their ups and downs with the Eugene zoning board, here.) We visited a community called Maitreya Eco-Village, where we received some lessons in green building techniques (specifically straw bale and cob construction) from founder and architect Rob Bolman. We dropped by the factory and showroom of Bike Friday, manufacturer of world-famous sublime folding bikes, and got to take a few for a spin around the parking lot. We also checked out Eugene’s Center for Appropriate Transport, which hosts a community bike workshop and educational programs that teach kids how to build and design bikes and bike accessories.

Center for Appropriate Transport, Eugene, OR

Once this show actually got on the road, the distances each day were pretty significant for my wimpy self. (One point of pride was that I did actually RIDE up the hilliest portion of the trip, albeit at approximately 1.5 miles per hour.) I discovered that I like traveling by bike very much, and am looking forward to doing more in the future. It’s a great way to see the countryside, silently self-propelled, while still actually covering some distance in the course of a day. The weather was fantastic and Oregon’s Willamette Valley is a beautiful place.

Willamette River Valley, Oregon

We camped at organic farms and spent some time with the farmers who shared the reality of their work and lives with our group, including some delicious produce! We got our hands a little dirty on these farms too (though I personally can’t claim to have been very useful). Seeing both the beauty and the difficulty of this life made me more determined than ever to support the people whose labor and dedication brings beautiful healthy food to the rest of us.

Cyndi gives her chickens lots of love!


Next: “How What I Did On My Summer Vacation Changed My Life”... for real!

Sustainability Bike Tour

Okay, I can actually say it: by popular demand, the “How-I-Spent-My-Summer-Vacation” thread must go on! A lovely woman named Lisa sent me an email asking about the Oregon bike trip I went on in August, referenced in an earlier post. Thus, I will attempt to […]

2007 Green Buildings Open House

GreenHome NYC’s annual tour of green buildings has several options this year, offering bus, bike and walking tours in three boroughs, plus an afterparty beginning at 2 pm at Habana Outpost in Brooklyn. (See the list of tours here.) The Brooklyn bike tour features the […]

The Great Change: The World Beyond Petroleum

The Great Change: The World Beyond Petroleum
An evening with Albert Bates

Friends Meeting House
15 Rutherford Place, Manhattan
(15th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)

Sierra Club NYC Group
Beyond Oil NYC
Neighborhood Energy Network
Tri-State Food Not Lawns
Friends in Unity with Nature

free, but donations to support Albert’s travel costs welcome

With a style both humorous and deadly serious, Albert Bates walks us through the challenges that lie ahead for the United States and the world: climate change, peak oil, and global economic meltdown creating conditions for civil unrest, recession and hardship. Picking his way through the minefield of unrealistic expectations, Bates pulls together a picture of a very different future, consciously created and far better than anything we might have imagined before. (more…)

Portland photo album

More photos from Portland here: • Views from bridges and mountains • Bicycle-loving graffiti and architecture • Stormwater management strategies • Gorgeous produce at the Farmers’ Market • Did I mention the bikes? Have a look! Next up, a report and photos from the Sustainable […]