Brownstoner’s President Ava Barnett: “On Saturday, October 15, 11a-4p, Meet homeowners who are Helping Keep ‘Bed-Stuy Alive!'”–
At the most recent Community Board 3 meeting, Ava Barnett, president of The Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, explained the links between green and “brown” in regards to her organization’s “33rd Annual House Tour of Bedford Stuyvesant” – an explanation that challenged us to think more about the efforts, past and present, to keep Bed-Stuy and its brownstones alive, vibrant and sustainable.
Miss Barnett commented, “This year’s tour theme is ‘Remembering the Past, Creating a Sustainable Future.’ By their continuous work and commitment and the very definition of sustainability, we are active participants in the national green movement keeping Bedford Stuyvesant alive!”
“The neighborhood’s masterful architecture – crafted with magnificent details – has been kept alive by homeowners and residents here and speaks to an inherent understanding of sustainability. In fact, there are folks who are heirs to pioneers who occupied these houses from before the turn of the century. They stayed with these properties through the Depression, wars and strife, hard and good times.”
Miss Barnett’s comments inspired thoughts about other examples of core green movements, present and past, local to global.
Our children will talk about Columbus’ discovery of America, and hopefully some of them will learn of Pedro Nino, captain of one of Columbus’s voyager ships, who oversaw a crew of Africans. Not a stretch to imagining that the Nino, most likely, was outfitted with barrels of seed for planting in the “New World.”
It is documented that Africans, enslaved, arrived by European boats in the early 1600’s to clear the forests, build the farms, they were the colonizer’s heavy machinery. They were forced to create from the timber of Lower Manhattan, a wall, stretching east to west, river to river, along a street in Lower Manhattan to protect the “landowners” from the indigenous people. That wall is now Wall Street. And some of those masons, carpenters, sanitation engineers, gardeners, construction workers of that time, rest in the Negro Burial Ground, now the African Burial Ground beneath the Foley Square/City Hall area. Some of those unpaid workers may have lived to hear about James Weeks, a stevedore who worked on the docks along the Brooklyn waterfront. With his earnings, he financed the purchase of fertile land, just yards from Bedford-Stuyvesant.
This Saturday, Bed-Stuy Alive’s! Tohma Faulkner Award for Community Service will be presented to Pam Green, among other recipients. Ms. Green is the Executive Director of the Weeksville Heritage Center and architect of the idea for the site’s soon-to-be-constructed “Green Museum.”
In addition to Senor Nino and his “seeds”, hopefully educators in Bed-Stuy schools will instruct their charges about Mr. Weeks’ incorporation of one of New York’s first self-contained, self-sustaining and vibrantly green villages, populated by people of color who grew all of their own produce in gardens they nurtured and created – near Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Bed-Stuy’s “green movement” to educate the populace about the good foods to eat and the importance of taking care of the air we breathe, the water we drink and living healthier lifestyles has been on the table for a long time. Hattie Carthan, in the 1960’s, planted roots of a green movement; Dr. John Henrik Clarke, in his plan for the inclusion of Black history in the New York City curriculum, created a syllabus around it; Restoration Corp. spoke to weatherizing and sustains a program that’s over 35 years old; Senator Velmanette Montgomery in the 1990’s, issued an Environmental News; and horticulturalist Arthur Shepherd, a student of Carthan, organized a series of innovative green programs for the Bedford Stuyvesant community and beyond.
“Bed-Stuy Alive! Week, this year, remembers the past and its templates for creating a more sustainable future; it also acknowledges the neighborhood’s dynamic present. Miss Barnett says, “We’re celebrating the best of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Brownstoners have a slogan, ‘Come on Home to Bed-Stuy’. Meet our neighbors, eat in our restaurants, visit our homes, savor the tastes, and know that Bed-Stuy is, indeed, alive and active!”
About the Tour:
Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity NYC and Johnson Security Bureau, the self-guided House Tour begins at the “Old Boys High School”, located at 832 Marcy Avenue, near the corner of Putnam Avenue, from 11 A.M.-4 P.M., rain or shine.
The tour will display works in progress and fully renovated homes and treasures dating from the 1800s, and offer attendees opportunities to speak directly with homeowners and learn about restoration, landscaping and maintenance techniques.
Visitors will receive a Tour Brochure – mandatory for entry into the homes – at 11 A.M. sharp at “Old Boys High School”. The brochure is a handy reference tool and keepsake documenting the unique story behind each home on tour.
Visitors can participate in the Free Homeownership Workshop from 9:00 to 10:30 A.M. In the workshop, sponsored by Bridge Street Development Corporation, participants learn how to finance the renovation or purchase of a home.
The all-day “Bed-Stuy Bazaar”, from 10:30a to 3:30p, includes vendors from all over Bed-Stuy and beyond who offer a variety of products for sale and resource information for distribution. Tour-goers also will be able to sample savory fare at special discounts in neighborhood eateries participating in Bed-Stuy Alive’s Restaurant Week. Visit www.bedstuyalive.org for listings. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Proceeds from the House Tour will benefit the McDonald/Glee, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to college bound graduates of Boys and Girls High School. In addition, the Brownstoners have established the Joan Maynard Scholarship Fund that is awarded to college-bound graduates of programs at Brooklyn Academy High School.
Tickets for the 33rd Annual House Tour of Bedford Stuyvesant are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Advanced tickets can be purchased at the Bed-Stuy Alive! Gala Kickoff on Saturday, October 8th, 10am-5pm (Fulton Street between Marcy and New York Avenues) . For House Tour details, visit http://brownstonersofbedstuy.org or the fan page on Facebook for additional information on the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Inc.