Community Green

People of all colors discussing evergreen ideas.

Morgan Powell Memorial Tree Planting

Burke Ave Bridge
Saturday, April 11 at 9:30am
Burke Bridge and Bronx Park East, Bronx

G.I.V.E. (Getting Involved, Virginia Ave Efforts), Inc., is teaming up with the Bronx River Alliance to plant trees and shrubs along the Bronx River by Burke Bridge in memory of our beloved Morgan Powell. We will start planting at 9:30. If you interested, we are meeting up at 8:45 in front of 2515 Olinville and collectively walking to Burke Bridge. While we walk Julien Terrell will speak about our dear friend. Please help spread the word as we won’t pretend to know all of Morgan’s friends! Let’s do our buddy proud!

Directions: please take the 2 train to Allerton and walk one block West if you want to meet us at 8:45, if not, take the 2 train to Burke and walk West to Bronx Park East to meet us at 9:30. Please dress accordingly!

Morgan Powell Memorial Tree Planting

Filed under: Community Green

NYCHA Grows with its Gardeners Conference March 28, 2015


For green folks, there are a lot of conferences and events during the year especially during the growing season. The Partnership For Parks Conference at NYU on April 11, 2015 and the NYCHA Grows with its Gardeners Conference and the GreenThumb GrowTogether were March 28 and March 21 respectively. I wish I could make them all every year. I especially enjoy the hundreds of NYCHA gardeners that gather to learn, share and prepare for the season. Gardeners are gardeners but being a former project resident, like a lot of you, I have a special affinity for those hard working gardeners beautifying their piece of the hood against odds not in their favor. Its incredible to watch someone who has never grown anything take a 4′ X 8′ plot or two and grow edible vegetables, daises, black-eyed-susans and purple cone flowers.

Enjoy the pictures from the NYCHA Grows with its Gardeners Conference 2015 by clicking the photo above. If you are really adventurous, the NYCHA Grows with its Gardeners Conference 2014 are on Flickr also.

Filed under: Community Green

Partnerships for Parks Conference

Partnerships for Parks ConferenceSaturday, April 11, 2015
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
NYU School of Law
40 Washington Square South
Complimentary entry but RSVP required

The Partnerships for Parks Conference provides community groups, park supporters, and open-space advocates an opportunity to unite and learn how local park stewards strengthen neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in New York City. We are excited to share a day with park enthusiasts from all five boroughs and to share best practices, tools, and resources we have honed over our 20 years of successfully supporting community partners and transforming communities.

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NYCHA Grows with its Gardeners Conference March 28, 2015!

The New York City Housing Authority’s Garden & Greening Program is proud to present the 13th annual “NYCHA Grows with its Gardeners” Conference!

This year, community organizations, non-profits, local government agencies, and NYCHA departments will be on hand to offer technical support, seeds and planting materials, garden education literature, and interactive botanical and horticultural workshops!

The Conference will be held on Saturday, March 28th 2015 at the Johnson Houses Community Center in East Harlem, from 9:30am-2:00 pm. RSVP is mandatory! Please call 212-306-2919 to RSVP. Please note that this event is open only to NYCHA residents. En Español.

Filed under: Community Green

GreenThumb GrowTogether Sat. March 21st

LaDonna Redmond

GreenThumb is excited to announce LaDonna Redmond as this year’s keynote speaker. LaDonna Redmond is a food-justice activist/writer/motivational speaker who has successfully worked to get Chicago Public Schools to evaluate junk food, launched urban agriculture projects, started community grocery stores, and worked on federal farm policy to expand access to healthy food access and production in communities of color. Very active in community journalism, she hosts a weekly radio show on KMOJ called “It’s your Health” and writes a bi-weekly column for the Minnesota Spokesman Reporter.

In her role as education and community outreach coordinator for Seward Community Cooperative, LaDonna is responsible for engaging community residents, local partners, and organizations to participate in activities, programming, and special initiatives of the co-op’s new Friendship store in Minneapolis.

In 2009, LaDonna was one of 25 citizen and business leaders named a Responsibility Pioneer by Time Magazine. LaDonna was also a 2003-2005 WKKF Food and Society Fellow. In 2007, she was awarded Green for All Fellowship. LaDonna attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

You can read more about LaDonna here at and

Filed under: Community Green

Basketball With Ralph Williams

Ralph Williams lived next door to me at 1330 Franklin Ave. in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. He was older, but he and I were about the same size. Ralph beat me every day. If I knew where he was, I’d pay him back. I owe him. Every day he would beat me on the basketball court.

Ralph wanted to be like his older brothers. They were all-star basketball players. I don’t know if he wanted to be like Walt Frazier but he played like him. He was always smooth and under control. On the court, Ralph anticipated everything. To him, every move, every shot and every score was important. So Ralph practiced every day, on me.

Ralph was always working on his game. He would work on a move until he got it right and could score consistently with it. Then he would tell me how to defend against it. Then he would prove he could score with it anyway. He’d steal the ball from me several times in a row. He’d then tell me what my fault or tip off was. Then he would steal the ball from me several more times. This was every day for as long as we could play.

There were lots of days when I didn’t score a point. I learned and scores got closer as I got better.  One afternoon, I had him. I was going to beat Ralph Williams. All I had to do was defend. If I got the ball, I knew I could win. You couldn’t get a hand between us. Ralph scored and won.

I couldn’t believe he had gotten a shot off. I was all over him. He had been going right across the foul line. I was in good position. I was a half step ahead and close. My hands were up. But he scored. I’d seen the ball drop through the basket. I asked what he had done. He laughed and said he’d shot behind his back. I laughed and said stop kidding. He repeated he’d shot behind his back. He walked over to the ball, picked it up and behind his back, flipped it at the basket. It went in. My mouth dropped open. He did it again. He moved further away and did it again. He went to one corner of the foul line and as he dribbled, midway across he scored again.

I asked, “How did you learn that shot?”
He said, “I practice.”
I asked him, “When? That shot?”
He said, “I practice every day by myself. That shot and others.”
That was news to me as I asked, “By yourself? Behind the back?”
He said, “You always have to have a shot you can win with. You don’t have to shoot behind the back. I was having fun.”

Ralph and I played a lot after that. I developed my own “winner.” I could beat him now. I don’t remember when I did. That didn’t matter. We were having fun. Ralph had taught me how to win. Now I could take my game and my life to other courts and other levels.

Michael Jordan finished his career taking the toughest shot in basketball: A jump shot from the corner spinning and falling away. I call that a Ralph William’s shot.

What I learned from Ralph Williams:
Time: You have to spend time at getting better. If you want to be great, it will take even more time.

Hard Work: It is easy to be good at the easy stuff. If you want to be good at the hard stuff it’s going to take hard work.

Sacrifice: What will give up to become better? Nothing? Then you may not get better.

Basketball IQ: If you are not getting smarter, you are not getting better.

Transference: Intelligence is application. Apply the things you learn especially to other areas of your life.

Fun: Have lots of fun!

I could use a lot of clichés about hard work and sacrifice and life’s lessons but what I remember most is that I learned basketball and a lot about life from a neighborhood kid just a little older than me. I was lucky to be taught good stuff by a great guy but what you learn, what you take away and keep, is up to you.

Ralph taught me how to play basketball. He taught me how to win at it. He taught me to be a good sport. He taught me to have fun. And, on the court, one on one, every day he tested me. I became a better basketball player. I also became a better person. I learned how to pay attention to the things in front of and around me. I learned how to anticipate actions and reactions. I learned how to defend, not just a basketball goal, but myself and my goals. I learned the difference between being aggressive, assertive and offensive and when to be which. I learned how to help the other guy up and how not to gloat or taunt. I may have gotten more from Ralph than he ever got from me. I owe him.


Filed under: Community Green, , ,

Sunday Chicken

Sunday Chicken. That’s the new name of the Chicken For A Month Of Sundays series I started about a month ago. True to the original intent, I will post a chicken recipe weekly and I will highlight the technique used to prepare the dish. Since I started the series, I’ve got a lot of responses and this is what I would like to share:

  • Recipes may share names but the ingredients may vary greatly
  • Recipes that are “Quick Cooking” often use canned soups or other “prepared” ingredients
  • Recipes considered “Old Fashioned” generally take a “from the ground up” approach
  • Old Fashioned and Quick Cooking recipes can taste very differently
  • A month Sundays is a long time!

View Quick Cooking recipes as getting a hearty and healthy meal on the table as fast as you can during the week. Stretch out on the Old Fashioned recipes and prepare them when the longer prep and cooking times aren’t a problem like Saturdays when you invite friends over or for Sunday dinner! I view quick as 10 minute prep and 30 minutes or less cooking time. Old fashioned recipes often have longer prep times with lots of ingredients or sub parts and cooking times from 1-3 hours.

I’ve learned a main dish is not a meal, so I will also make side dish and vegetable recommendations. In most cases suggestions will be broad like serve Chicken Cacciatore over pasta with a salad (OK, the suggestions will be a little more descriptive and may include a recipe or two).

Sunday Chicken is a series under Community Green Cooks! and Community Greens is It Takes A Village anecdotes and growing up Morrisania stories. I realize I spent a lot of time as a kid at the dinner table and learned a lot about life there. So, Sunday Chicken may appear in either CG Cooks!, CG Grows! or Community Greens. It depends on where the post takes me and whether there was food involved. For sanity and clarity, all recipes will have a link on the Community Green Cooks! Page. Let’s start this week with COOKING CHICKEN: An overview of methods for preparing chicken. Below is my Old Fashioned Stuffed Roast Chicken recipe. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Old Fashioned Stuffed Roast Chicken

1 4- to 6-pound roasting chicken or capon
1 teaspoon Accent, Adobo or poultry seasoning
½ cup butter
½ cup onion, chopped fine
¼ cup parsley, chopped fine
6 cups day-old bread, cubed in ½-inch pieces
½ teaspoon pulverized sage
¼ teaspoon marjoram
¼ teaspoon thyme
1½ teaspoons celery seed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup additional melted butter (for outside of the chicken)
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon paprika

1. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken with Accent and set aside. Place the giblets in 1 cup of water in a saucepan and cook on top of the stove until they are tender. Chop them coarsely. Reserve the liquid until later.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the onion and cook until it becomes glazed. Add the parsley, bread cubes, giblets, sage, marjoram, thyme, celery seed, salt and pepper and cook over low heat, mixing well while cooking. The bread cubes should be warmed through. Add ½ cup of the giblet broth then mix until it is well distributed.
3. Spoon the filling into the neck cavity and into the large cavity with a light touch. Using skewers and string, close both openings securely. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Mix the melted butter, flour and paprika and brush this over the outside skin of the chicken.
4. Place the chicken in a 3500 F. oven for approximately 3 hours. When it is done, the thickest portion of the breast should pierce easily with a fork and the legs should move easily in the joints.
5. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan to a hot platter. Return it to the warm oven while you make the gravy, as follows:

Place the roasting pan over low heat and add the remainder of the giblet water. This should be about ½ cup. Add an additional ¼ cup of water. Using a slotted spoon, cook and stir until you have loosened all the browned juice from the bottom of the pan. There should be sufficient thickening left from the flour that you spread on the outside of the chicken with the butter and paprika. If not, mix 2 tablespoons of flour with the water before you add it to the pan drippings. Cook until thickened, stirring all the while. Serve piping hot with the chicken. Serves 4 to 6.

Filed under: Community Green, Food, Recipe, , ,

CG Cooks: Herb Roasted Chicken

When a novice cook prepares an ambitious home-cooked dinner you should be prepared for, among other things, adventure. I have learned: 1. Roast chicken takes longer to cook than you think, 2. Seasoning on the outside doesn’t make for flavor or juicy chicken on the inside and 3. That the giblets are the parts chicken that live in the paper bag with the neck and other edible chicken organs that you should remove before cooking the chicken!

So this week, let’s roast a chicken as practice for the coming holidays. The recipe for Herb Roasted Chicken is simple and uncluttered. It’s a perfect trainer for the Old-Fashioned Stuffed Roast Chicken we’ll prepare for Thanksgiving. So let’s get Cooking!

Herb Roasted Chicken

Prep: 15 minutes Roast 1 1/4 hours Oven: 375°F Stand: 10 minutes Makes: 4 servings

1 3- to 3½-pound whole broiler-fryer chicken
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning or black pepper

Rinse inside of chicken; pat dry with paper towels. Skewer neck skin of chicken to back Tie legs to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with melted butter; rub garlic over chicken.

In a small howl stir together basil, salt, sage, thyme, and lemon-pepper seasoning; rub onto chicken. If desired, insert a meat thermometer into center of an inside thigh muscle, not touching bone.

Roast, uncovered, in a 375° oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until drumsticks move easily in their sockets and chicken is no longer pink (180°F). Remove chicken from oven. Cover; let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

So What Part of the Chicken Is The Giblet will be posted after Thanksgiving in Community Greens.

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Growing Up Morrisania: An Extra Plate

My granddaughter, reluctantly put down her iphone as we began dinner by saying Grace. She had been intently watching YouTube videos and, since her phone use is carefully monitored and limited, she wanted to wring out every minute she could. Try as I might, there is always something she doesn’t want to eat or will only take a tablespoon of just to appease me. I try not to beat her with old sticks so I didn’t say, “when I was a child, you had to eat everything on your plate,” but I certainly thought it. When I was her age eating everything on my plate wasn’t an option. Later in life I realized some nights it was good just to have something to eat. I’ve learned why, and to value and cook vegetable tops, bottoms and tough meat parts no one else wants or has to eat and not to turn my nose up to anything having learned hunger many years before it was coined Food Insecure. And then I remembered Mr. Dobson.

We always had a TV as kids. Of course it was black and white. Of course it was second-hand, but It was part of a beautiful console that had a record player on one side, a TV on the other and doors that closed to make the whole thing look like a sideboard rather than what it was. It didn’t matter that it didn’t match any of the furniture in the living room since none of the it matched anyway. It had tubes that lit up when you turned it on and a channel selector that physically clicked into the next detent when changed stations. Periodically, a tube would burn out or the selector would fail and you would call Mr. Dobson.

He ran a TV & Radio repair shop from his first floor apartment on 169th St. between the library and the supermarket. The dirty bay window facing the street with the neon sign, “D BS N,” was always full of TV carcasses and old radios. When a tube burnt out, you would take it to Mr. Dobson and he would give you a replacement. If you couldn’t find the source of the trouble, Mr. D would make a house call. He’d show up with the most wonderful black leather bag chocked full of tubes in red and white cardboard boxes carefully packed in the top portion of the case that folded flat to reveal them like magic. The bottom was filled with tools no carpenter or plumber would use but they were tools none the less.

Mr. D worked like a doctor and it was heart surgery when he pulled out a chassis and, with a puff of blue smoke, soldered in a new channel selector. One year, color TVs and transistors became popular and affordable. That year, Mr. D’s wife died. His business and life crumbled. He drank a bit and one rung at a time, he descended into a life not worth living. He knocked on our basement apartment door about a week before Thanksgiving. As she went to the door, Mom fussed about who would call at dinner time. Though clearly much older, Mr. D called my mom Ms. Ruth and offered to help take out the ash cans, put the trash cans on the street, mop the building and do any other odd jobs that might come up.

My mom glanced over her shoulder at us before she closed the door. We could hear her offer him a meal and a place to sleep near the furnace. She returned, told us to clean our plates, and get ready for bed. It was one of the very few nights we didn’t have to eat everything on our plates. There was an insurrection about no TV after dinner since we hadn’t done anything to deserve such a punishment which was quickly put down with a furrowed scowl. We had to go through the kitchen to use the bathroom before going to bed and I noticed there was a plate at the table where grandmother used to sit.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Mr. D didn’t come for dinner. I never saw him again.

Growing Up Morrisania: An Extra Plate


Filed under: Community Green

Growing Up Morrisania: Zip Gun

Butch, the neighborhood bad boy, was my older brother’s best friend. They were alike in stature and remarkably strong and muscled for young kids. They shared a rich chocolate brown complexion and perfectly smooth skin and smiles that would win over they most disbelieving soul. Even with these traits in common I couldn’t understand why they were such fast friends. I was sure Butch pulled the wings off flies and tortured small animals. He rebelled against everything especially anything sane. It goes without saying, Butch was the local gang leader.

My older brother was King Of The Monkey Bars. He was just about king of anything he wanted. Well, everything but my younger brother and I. He was a boy scout, had a paper route, bagged at the local grocery store, played trumpet in the school band, flew rockets and rubber-banded airplanes . . . Yes, really, he was that kind of kid. But he wasn’t dad. Hell, he wasn’t even the oldest child. My sister was 5 years older but that seemed so distant. But with 2 younger brothers, mom, raising her 4 children as a single parent, always insisted he take the male, head-of-household lead and set an example for us. He did always.

He and Butch were the toughest and would play the roughest games and win. When no one else would jump the gap between the tenement buildings, he and Butch would. When an errant ball got stuck between the narrow space between buildings, usually full several feet deep with garbage and broken bottles, he or Butch would climb in an get it. All of these things happened starting with a dare that someone else do it and when no one stepped up either Butch or my brother would. On the rare occasions someone else would try. That usually ended with someone getting stuck or hurt.

The two of them would have “thick as thieves” conversations and I was sure they were planning to take over the world. No one ever interrupted them. You simply waited until they stopped talking and acknowledged you. They never argued. I don’t remember them raising their voices to one another. There was a sync between them that was undeniable.

One morning Butch stopped by our basement apartment on Franklin Avenue. He lived across the street in a basement apartment with his 2 cop older brothers and their mom. My brother stepped outside and closed the door behind him as they talked in the hall. My younger brother and had seen Butch come down the stairs with something in his hands and return empty handed so bursting with curiosity we ran to the door that opened into the kitchen and waited at the table. My brother returned with something wrapped in a small white towel.

Looking at us sharply, he said, “come with me” and led us through the hallway to the backyard that connected several of the tenement buildings and faced the back of the tenements on Clinton Avenue. He told us to sit on the low wall that separated the buildings from the backyard parapet and he placed a parcel where we could see it clearly. He unwrapped the oddest contraption I had ever seen and very cooly stated, “this is a zip gun”. Our eyes widened in amazement as we had heard of zip guns but we had never seen one. It was a piece of wood with a door bolt fastened on top and a wad of rubber bands somehow secured to the front and attached behind the bolt. There was a short piece of pipe somehow secured between the bolt and the front of the gun.

There were bullets in the folds of the cloth and he took one and loaded it inside the bolt. Pointing away from us and at the wall of a nearby building, he put the rubber bands behind the bolt and, with effort, pulled it back and secured it in its station. Admonishing us to watch the wall, he pointed, flicked the bolt and immediately after a pop we saw a chip of brick fall from the wall. Our mouths’ fell open. My older brother looked around before saying, “follow me”. We went to the wall where the chip had popped out and as my younger brother and I fingered the mark with amazement, my older brother pushed through the broken bottles and trash until he found it: a spent bullet. He held it between his thumb and forefinger for my younger brother and I to see but he didn’t let us touch it before he put it into his pocket.

Without speaking he turned back towards our building’s back door and nervously silent, we followed him directly into the bedroom where we each had one drawer in the dresser. He had rewrapped the zip gun as we walked and now told us to sit on the foot of Mom’s bed, where we could get a good look of him putting it away. He tucked it under his striped shirts at the end and turned towards us after closing the drawer. He looked at us imposingly and said, “Don’t touch it”. “Go play in front of the house”. We didn’t want to play. We wanted to ask questions. We wanted to touch the zip gun. We went outside to play.

Several days later Butch knocked on the door. He waited in the hall while my brother went into the bedroom and returned with the towel wrapped zip gun. He handed it over in the hallway and my younger brother and I saw Butch tuck it into his pants and zip his jacket as he went up the stairs. We never discussed this. It just happened.

Filed under: Community Green

5 Boro Bike Tour

May 3rd, 2015
I am going to ride this as a volunteer this year!

Morgan Powell’s

Bronx River Sankofa

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 there are different objects in the sky, but viewed from a different orientation. Welcome to Community Greens

Community Green Photo

Community Green Photo
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.

Community Green Cooks!

CG Cooks!

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

Community Green Grows!

CG Grows!
Growing your own vegetables in a garden is incredible. Nothing tastes better and it's not difficult. Get started now by growing herbs and freesias indoors right now and know you are eating healthy and enjoying nature's wonders.

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.
Harlem Seeds

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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Beginner Basketball - Basic Shooting Skills

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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