Community Green

People of all colors discussing evergreen ideas.

Bronx River Alliance “An Upstream Soiree” September 17, 2014

9th Annual “An Upstream Soiree”

The Bronx River Alliance celebrated the revitalization of the Bronx River Wednesday, September 17, 2014 with delicious hors d’oeuvres, a buffet supper, live music, wine and beer, and a silent auction at the Bronx Zoo. At the pre-party at  Zoo Center, patrons caught a glimpse of the new “Amazing Monitors” exhibit. Jose the Beaver joined us for photographs, and we toasted the honorees with a signature cocktail: The Bronx

The Bronx River Honorees:

Nancy Mann –  Principal, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School
Tim Tompkins –  President, Times Square Alliance & Founder, Partnerships for Parks
Sims Metal Management – Business leaders in sustainable practices that minimize impact on community and local waterways
Live Mambo/Salsa Music by: Orlando Marin “The Last Mambo King” and his band
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Growing Up Morrisania: Dinner Lessons

I was invited to a friend’s house recently and it was nice having a home cooked meal including a green and a yellow vegetable as part of the meal (salads don’t count). I’d say the meal was old fashioned but my friend is not old enough to be in that category. She’s just a great cook. She served, and handed me a plate that was fuller than I would have made for myself, but it smelled and looked so good that I wasn’t going to suggest she take anything back. I stuck to my latest eating habit; half loaded my fork, put it down after every mouthful and enjoyed every bite. The meal was a real treat, especially the corn and okra.

After I had cleaned my plate, the host pleasantly asked if I wanted more, to which I quickly replied no, really wanting to say yes. Oh well. I like a good cup of coffee with dinner when I am out so I offered to brew some up and followed her into the kitchen. The good host said she’d make the coffee as I spied at least another generous serving of corn and okra. Noticing that I noticed, she again offered second helpings. This time I agreed and ate all the remaining vegetables enjoying the guilt of having a second helping of something that’s good for you.

The after dinner conversation over coffee was about the great meal and when prodded I had to admit I wanted seconds by was so entangled by my “eating habits” that I hardly ever have seconds (except for any type of ice cream). Sure, when I was a bicycle racer, I loved my 4,000 calorie a day diet which barely kept me from losing weight, but those days are well behind me and these days, I very carefully watch my diet and my waistline.

Growing Up Morrisania, always there unconsciously, sometimes surfaces consciously at the most peculiar times like dinner. Growing up in a single parent household with a Grndmother and 3 siblings meant that everyone had to get a fair share of dinner and portion control was built into every loving ladleful of stew and every 1/2″ slice of pound cake. You ate everything on your plate, even the vegetables you didn’t like. Not finishing a meal was not an option nor were huge portions or seconds. Sometimes I went to bed still hungry but now I realize had I eaten until I pushed myself away from the table, I would have learned overeating rather than to appreciate food.

Meals were generally planned and usually balanced and even though there wasn’t any hard science behind some of them, they seemed to have always been in moderation and not slathered with gravies or sauces beyond recognition. Grandma was from Baltimore and Mom was a New Yorker who loved a good steak. There were some family food traditions but when Mom took over “cooking” most of them came from the dog-eared Betty Crocker Cookbook I stiil have and use. Mom had been groomed for business, not to become a domestic as Grandma had been. Still, Dinner, as I remember and maybe imagined, has stood the test of time.

As a kid, dinner was always eaten at the table with the rest of the family, until I was 10 and my grandmother passed away. Mealtime was a chatty, egalitarian affair with everyone getting appropriate food portions and a share in the conversation. Everyone got and ate vegetables, a green one and a yellow one, because Mom felt having both at dinner was an integral part of a balanced diet that also included a meat and a starch. Occasionally there were seconds but not usually as leftovers were generally someone’s lunch the next day. If there was really a lot left, it was repurposed into the next day’s meal.

I realize now that Mom had a healthy sweet tooth so with most meals there was also desert: fruit, apple sauce, fruit cocktail, jello, pudding or pound cake. Sunday dinner was more elaborate as was desert and cakes were multi-layered and frosted and even jello had Kool Whip on it or fruit mixed in it. I didn’t realize it at the time but my eating habits and social habits were being shaped.

Now that food has gone from convenience, to fast, to microwaved and everyone eats at counters, in their cars or on the run I wonder if there is a correlation between the illnesses,ills and obesity that plague us and society. You be the judge and carefully consider your next meal.

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Growing Up Morrisania

We are the soil we grew up in. Mine was Morrisania. Morrisania was the Negro neighborhood in the Bronx. Thelonius Monk lived in Morrisania for a time and the Boston Road Ballroom was as popular as Roseland. When I started Jordan L. Mott – Jr. High School 22, I remember someone asking in amazement if I lived in the “Colored Neighborhood”. Funny, I had just “moved up” literally from an unlicensed basement tenement apartment on Franklin Avenue and was then living in the Claremont/Webster Butler projects.

Most of the folks in Morrisania were Colored. We became proudly Negro when I was about 10 years. By the 70’s, I had become Black and I’ve remained that way though some folks have moved on and become African Americans. My 93 year old mother is still Negro though. She isn’t stuck in time. She is a product of the social crucible that is America and her self image and politics make her Negro just as mine make me what I am.

I remember The “Colored Store” owned by Miss Martha and her sister. It was a luncheonette but with a very special feature. It doubled as a candy store. There was a breakfront in the back filled with all manner of penny candies and kids would stand patiently in front of it until they caught Miss Martha’s eye. She would glance over to her sister who would scowl, wipe her hands on her apron, come around from the lunch counter and attend to the sugar greedy children. Each kid would wait their turn to point to the candy of their choice which would be dropped into a small brown paper bag and paid for with assorted pennies, nickels and an occasional dime.

As a child I believed the world was negro with an interesting mix of other ethnicities. That changed when I started Jr. High and was one of the 6 or 7 “coloreds” in my class. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered when I was in Jr. High School. They told my class, and several others, the news and released us before they told the rest of the school population which wasn’t originally, but was now mostly Black and Hispanic. I remember walking several of my classmates to the Grand Concourse, the opposite direction, from my house, before heading home. I remember the odd looks and nervous conversations. Many things changed over the years but I didn’t see that look again until 9/11 when the world made another monumental turn.

Filed under: African-American, Blacks, Morrisania

GreenThumb Summer Festival June 21st

Summer Festival
Saturday, June 21st
10:00 a.m.4:00 p.m.
Marcus Garvey Park

GreenThumb invites you to join our community gardeners and partners for the 2014 GreenThumb Summer Festival! This festival is a celebration to recognize GreenThumb community volunteer gardeners throughout New York City. This event will feature live music and dance, gardening workshops, children’s activities, food demonstrations and much more. Come meet GreenThumb’s many partner organizations and learn about the resources we offer to help New Yorkers grow successful urban gardens.
More info

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Bronx River Run May 3rd

Screen beans character running

Shoelace Park 10K Fun Run & Walk May 3. Don’t miss running along the Bronx River!

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New York Restoration Project in East Harlem

You COGs (Colors of Green) out there know that during the season you’ll often run into the hard-working folks from New York Restoration Project. The photos below were taken at the Rodale Pleasant Park Community Garden with the fabulous foodies from Harlem Seeds and during a street tree planting near by.

You can also find these photos in my NYRP Flickr Photo Set.

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Bronx River Alliance Winter Assembly 2013

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Spring at Bissel Gardens!

Andy King, Council Member & Alisha Freeman, New Cares

Andy King, Council Member & Alisha Freeman, New Cares

We’ve been busy at Bissel Gardens this Spring. We have hosted a Tree Giveaway with Million Trees and NYRP and a New York Cares Volunteer Day and we are looking to do a whole lot more this year. Below are some of the pictures of the two events mentioned.  We you there? Don’t see yourself in these shots, click on the link on the bottom of the page to go to the Bissel Gardens Spring 2014 Album on Flickr.

Enjoy the photos and be sure to come out and visit or volunteer. Feel free to contact me about Bissel Gardens activities. See you there.

Yes, Erin Clarke, NY1 and Council Member Andy King were at Bissel Gardens for the New York Cares cleanup!

Bissel Gardens Tree Giveaway & New York Cares Day

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Community Greens – The Newsletter

For those of you that like print media, welcome to Community Greens – The Newsletter. It captures some on the topical posts from the past month and puts them on a handy, printable page. Enjoy!

In This Issue:

  • Bissel Gardens: More Than A Community Garden
  • Why We Need Community Gardens
  • Create Your Own Butterfly Park
screen beans paper

Community Greens Vol. 1 Issue 1


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Brooklyn Sewage Bike Tour Saturday May 10

NYC H2OJoin sewage enthusiasts Matt Malina and Adam Schwartz on a tour of the sewage plants of Southern Brooklyn. Before the 1880’s, Brooklyn’s sewage was piped into the bay and ocean untreated. During Brooklyn’s fast growth after the Civil War, science led to a clearer understanding of the adverse health effects of untreated sewage. As Coney Island was becoming a popular beach destination, the first sewage ‘purification’ plant was built there in 1885 to protect bathers. Other plants followed in the 20th century, leading to current system of 14 Water Pollution Control Plants we have today.

On the tour we will;

  • Bike to 3 sewage plants, 1 storm water retention facility and 1 CSO outflow point
  • Explain the sewage treatment process and what is a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)
  • Explain the ad hoc way in which the sewage system initially developed

Tickets and more information can be found by clicking here.

Saturday May 10 at 11 a.m.
East New York

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Bronx River Alliance Soirée

Bronx River Lovers Sharing Food & Drinks!September 17th, 2014

Community Green Photo

Community Green Photo

Community Greens

Certainly it takes more than a parent(s) to raise a child and prepare him/her to live in the here and now and to do well in the future. The world is more than the sun, moon and stars of our village but it's also the village on the other side of the river. It's not that they are different objects in the sky, but viewed from a different orientation. Community Greens

Food Tuesday

I have gone to bed fed but not nourished physically or spiritually. These days some folks call that being food insecure. Let's change that on a lot of levels. Lets start with healthy food that makes us happy. Welcome to Food Tuesday.

Garden Wednesday

Hyperlocal Food: Grow Your Own Fresh grown vegetables from your own garden is incredible. Nothing tastes better and it's not difficult to grow your own. Try some of the favorites like tomatoes, zucchini and collard greens. Strawberries are also pretty easy if you have the space and are willing to put in a little more work. While you could grow these on your apartment balcony,it's a lot more fun, and neighborly, to join the local community garden. Get started now and by the end of summer you'll notice you are saving money on groceries, reducing your environmental impact, and benefiting from knowing you are eating healthy food.Welcome to Garden Wednesday.

Blacks In Green

There are more of us out there than you realize and we are coming together to express our perspective, concerns and ideas. This could be called a seat at the table, a plot in the garden or a home in this hood!

CG's BIG of the Month:

Nilka Martell

Nilka Martell
Harlem Seeds

Morgan Powell’s

Bronx River Sankofa

Kim Beazer’s Nature’s Nurses

Nature's Nurses
Bronx River Alliance

Bissel Gardens

Bissel Gardens is a community garden that serves many purposes — It brings people together, beautifies the neighborhood, creates safe outdoor space, offers community gardening, grows food for donation and provides environmental and educational programs.

Find Your Community Garden

Anyone can join a garden. With more than 600 gardens across the five boroughs, potential members and volunteers should choose carefully. To aid in your search, GreenThumb has provided a Garden Finder from GardenMaps.
MillionTreesNYC - Make NYC Even Cooler

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Did You Know. . .

Capacity Fund Grants fund projects to strengthen groups’ outreach, membership, and program-planning capacity. Grants range from $250 to $5,000. Three grant cycles a year, with deadlines on February 1, August 1, and November 1. Projects must take place on NYC Parks property. - See more:

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