The Environment

The importance of thinking globally and acting locally has never been more apparent. New York City and each of our communities must help lead the way on climate change, and toward a more sustainable way of living. At the community level, creating new parks and greenways, supporting the cause of environmental justice, promoting better transit and alternative modes of transportation, and greening our homes and businesses are just some of the ways we can help make New York one of the most sustainable cities in the world.

Still and always, grateful

Some years, gratitude is closer to the surface. Some years, it takes a little more digging.

Four years ago, as Thanksgiving came, we were recovering from a natural disaster.

Hurricane Sandy had taken the lives of loved ones, and battered our city. There were 500 nursing home evacuees living on the drill floor of the Park Slope Armory. But we found – no, together, we made – a “paradise built in hell” (the title of a brilliant book by Rebecca Solnit, about the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster). With food, music, art, volunteers, bathroom-cleaning, doctors, donations, smart organizing, love, and a deep sense of purpose, we turned that Armory into a place (as described by evacuee Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler) of “courtesy, gentleness, and goodness beyond description.” Even if it could not hold back the hurricane, she said, “it makes one feel more secure and very, very grateful.”

Today, as Thanksgiving comes, we are trying to recover from a political disaster. While the lives lost and damage done by Hurricane Sandy cannot be directly compared, the experience of loss for many of us is still real. Not just that we lost an election, though that will have profound consequences. What feels especially painful to me today is the risk that we’ll lose a vision that we’ve been so proud to hold up for our kids – of a country called to its best self, rooted in compassion, embracing difference, with a real belief (even when we don’t make it real) that everyone deserves a more equal chance across all our lines.

That very dream, and the effort to make it real, provoked a sharp back-lash (a “white-lash”, as Van Jones rightly called it). At this moment, it seems easier to mobilize the darker, more closed, more resentful, sides of humanity – rather than the hopeful, open, embracing ones. I’m afraid, honestly, about what that means for being human.  

Still and always, gratitude is a critical part of the way forward. Not as a way of “feeling better” (although gratitude turns out to be good for your health). And not only because bitterness can consume us (although John Lewis reminds us that hearts full of love will do a lot better to sustain us for a long-term struggle). But also because gratitude for what we do together, for what we can’t do alone, for the ways we need each other, is at the heart of creating an inclusive community. “Organized compassion” is not only how we fight but what we are fighting for.

So, in that spirit, here’s some of what I am so deeply grateful for, still and always: Read more »

Some thoughts on the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

The fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy arrives at a time when we are in dire need of some reminders: of the urgency of confronting climate change, and the power of collective action to bring the changes we need. Read more »

Help save lives: check on vulnerable neighbors during the heat wave

Dangerously hot weather is forecast for today and tomorrow. 

It’s important to remember that extreme heat is one of the most dangerous forms of extreme weather amidst climate change.  Heat waves are not as dramatic as hurricanes … but they are no less deadly. As Eric Klinenberg showed in his book “Heat Wave,” the Chicago heat wave of 1995 killed seven times as many people as Superstorm Sandy. Read more »

Parks, Plazas, and More --- New Open Spaces to Enjoy in Kensington this summer

Summer is here and across New York City, our public parks and shared outdoor spaces are in high demand. That’s why I’m pleased to tell you that – after several years of hard work and significant investment—Kensington has two brand new outdoor spaces for you to enjoy this summer: the renovated Dome Playground, and starting this weekend, a public plaza at McDonald Avenue and Avenue C. Come celebrate with us Sunday at our brand new plaza! Read more »

Reduce Single-use Bags in NYC


SUMMARY 
  l   WHY WE NEED IT   l   HOW IT WORKS   l   FAQ   l   GET INVOLVED  

THE BILL TEXT   l   WHAT NEW YORKERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE BILL   l    NEWS


 

Every year, New Yorkers dispose of 9.37 billion single-use plastic bags -- and millions of them end up in our neighborhoods, trees, streets, and oceans.  New York City spends $12.5 million per year to send them to landfills, and even more to clean them off playgrounds, beaches, parks, and other public places. 

Even when properly disposed of, plastic bags often blow away onto the street or into waterways, where they become eyesores, clog storm drains, and endanger wildlife. If we are going to achieve our OneNYC zero waste goals, we can't ignore harmful plastic bag waste.

Our bill aims to reduce the use and negative impacts of carryout bags by requiring a 5-cent charge for carryout bags in NYC grocery and retail stores.  Read more »

Some new candidates on the (PBNYC) ballot!

PBNYC Vote Week is underway – and there are some new candidates on the ballot!

For the first time ever, we’ll be offering a brand new voting opportunity. In addition to voting on how to spend $1.5 million on the “capital projects ballot” (with 13 great projects like those from prior years), you’ll also get to vote on how to spend $50,000 on our brand new “program ballot.” 

Every year, during the PBNYC brainstorming phase, we hear many great ideas that don’t meet the criteria for “city capital” funding, which has to be for “bricks-and-mortar” projects.

So this year, we are offering an entire second ballot of projects that qualify for city “programmatic” funding that lets us really take advantage of all the creativity we see in PBNYC.  I’m proud to say we are the only district in NYC piloting this new opportunity. Read more »

Don’t drive into the Gowanus. Help us improve the parks instead!

First things first: don’t drive your car into the Gowanus Canal – as an out-of-state, hit-and-run driver did over the weekend, after he hit a parked car and slightly injured a woman and her infant daughter (all three of them are going to be fine, and he was taken into custody).

A better way to get involved in Gowanus: work with us to improve the parks and open space in the neighborhood.  

As one part of my office’s “Bridging Gowanus” initiative, we’re working to create, upgrade, and connect public open space throughout the neighborhood. The long-term goal is a “Gowanus Greenscape” that would connect a series of parks, plazas, canal-front open space, safe places to walk and bike, public art, and a clean, publicly-accessible canal.

We’ve got a long way to go toward that vision, but – thanks to the work of some great partners, especially the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Alliance, and Gowanus by Design – we’re off to a great start. Read more »

Gowanus Canal Clean Up Update

Update: On April 15, 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reached in agreement on the location of two sewage and stormwater retention tanks in Gowanus: an eight-million gallon tank will be built on privately-owned property along the Canal, between Butler and Degraw Streets, and a smaller four-million gallon tank will be located on a City-owned property at 2nd Avenue and 5th Streets. You can read the full agreement here.

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Black mayonnaise. Poo-nami.  Rumors of a three-eyed catfish.  

I know this update isn’t well-themed for the holiday season – I’m not aware of any Christmas carols about “combined sewer overflows” – but we wanted to give you an end-of-year update on the work to clean up the Gowanus Canal.

The Gowanus Canal has been deeply polluted for more than a century, making it a long-time source of local lore—and cringe-inducing headlines.

However, since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the canal as a “Superfund” site in 2010 (after longstanding advocacy by many local leaders), the Federal, State, and City government have all committed significant resources to reversing many decades of environmental degradation and neglect. Projects are underway that will, over the next several years: dredge the toxic sludge at the bottom of the waterway, curtail its use as an open sewer, remediate the land nearby, and minimize neighborhood flooding.

Here’s some of the progress toward a cleaner Gowanus that we’ve seen in the past year: Read more »

Gratitude, 2015

There’s a lot to be anxious about these days.

Terrorism around the world punctures our sense of security, and prompts xenophobic backlash against our neighbors and those seeking protection from this very sort of terror.

Climate change threatens the world we will hand our kids.

Growing inequality makes it harder for people just to get by.

We struggle across racial divides, as we see video of yet another young African-American man killed needlessly in an encounter with police, and violence comes to those protesting peacefully to change an unfair system.

And at times, the changes in our communities – new development, skyrocketing rents, rising homelessness – make us feel we are losing our neighborhoods.

So I’m glad that Thanksgiving is here, to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. Read more »

Composting is coming to Community Board 6!

Two years ago, the Department of Sanitation began a composting pilot program in a few neighborhoods around the city. Today I’m happy to share the news that the pilot has been so effective, it’s getting expanded again, this time to all of Community Board 6.

That means composting is now available in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, the Columbia Waterfront, and Red Hook.  And starting in two weeks, organics collection will start in Park Slope (now including streets north of Union) and Gowanus (now on both sides of the canal). To see if this new area includes your home, check out the map on the Department of Sanitation website.

Sanitation will collect all food scraps (including fruits and vegetables, meat, bones, grains, and prepared foods), food-soiled paper, and yard trimmings from the new curbside bin twice a week on your normal trash day. Your organic waste will be composted and become fertilizer for gardens, parks, and street trees. Organic waste accounts for a third of all garbage created in New York City, so composting will really help reduce how much we send to the landfill.  Read more »