The Neighbors Allied for Good Growth’s (NAG) 2009 Organizing Agenda is well underway. At last Thursday’s meeting, the four committees that formed during the Town Hall Meeting on October 2 described how they were making steady progress in their grassroots efforts to preserve affordable housing and improve open spaces, transportation and neighborhood character of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
The affordable housing committee partnered up with Boricua College to set up a multi-lingual seminar at the college’s Williamsburg campus, scheduled for April 25. Because of the gentrification the area has experienced in the past few years, many low- and mid- income families and senior citizens have been displaced from the neighborhood by developers, often through illegal evictions. The seminar will include information sessions on rent stabilization, tenant’s rights and housing lotteries. Sessions will be conducted in English, Spanish and Polish, with interpreters on hand to translate. The seminar will be free, with Boricua College donating space, speakers donating their time, and local restaurants donating refreshments.
Group leader and recent Williamsburg transplant Wilneida Negron said that the goal of the seminar, which she hopes will be the first of many, is to bring together new and old residents in the rapidly changing neighborhood.
“We want to bring everyone together,” said Negron. “We hope that it is the beginning of regular community workshops to preserve affordable housing.”
The Community Character committee is moving ahead with its “Oral Histories” project to document stories of North Brooklyn residents from all walks of life to foster understanding among neighbors. The group organized a concert at Union Pool on April 28 to raise funds to buy digital equipment such as cameras to incorporate new media to tell the stories more effectively. The group is working on a website that will feature online video and seeking interns and volunteers to collect stories, transcribe interviews and work with video.
The transportation group is advocating against the looming subway fare hike by writing letters to local elected officials, working on securing a protected bicycle lane on the Pulaski Bridge and organizing bicycling tours led by certified bicycle instructors around the neighborhood for the upcoming summer.
“We are dedicated to making the commute more efficient for everyone,” said group leader Alex Sweet. “Whether you bike, ride the subway or walk.”
The open space committee is organizing a “Where is my park?” event to bring awareness to the lack of open green space in North Brooklyn and is working on planting seed balls which will grow into trees and shrubbery around the neighborhood.
“We are one of the most underserved communities [in terms of] green space,” said committee leader Emily Gallagher, who is also a NAG member.
Freedman-Schnapp said he couldn’t be happier about the progress the groups are making.
“I’m just really proud of what these folks are doing,” said Schnapp. “I encourage everyone to sign up for our monthly meetings.”
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