Notes from Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #1

Your host, reporting the observations of his breakout group to the larger assembly at IF2030 Workshop . Credit: Municipal Art Society.

Yesterday’s Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC has brought wider awareness of and interest in Imagine Flatbush 2030. For those who are curious about the process, or might even be interested in attending Workshop #2, here are the notes which the Municipal Art Society facilitators compiled from the first workshop back in November.

Imagine Flatbush 2030 kicked off on Monday, November 19 at Temple Beth Emeth, with a preliminary stakeholders meeting. (A list of approximately 150 stakeholders was cultivated with help from FDC, neighborhood groups, and elected officials. Stakeholders who attended were asked to serve as project ambassadors and assist with outreach for the next meeting.) [At least three of us who live within the study area and write about it on our blogs – Sustainable Flatbush, Brooklyn Junction, and I – attended the first workshop.] Approximately 50 of those invited attended—representing Brooklyn College, tenant associations, city government, homeowners associations, the local YMCA, merchants groups, community development groups, and civic and faith-based groups.

After an introduction by the Planning Center to MAS, Jane Jacobs, and the goals of the project, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE led a discussion of the meaning of neighborhood sustainability, the Mayor’s PlaNYC, and why neighborhoods needed to create their own agendas to work in tandem with the Mayor’s plan.

Attendees were asked to work in groups to brainstorm neighborhood assets and challenges, as a way of beginning a dialogue. Six groups produced observations that they first recorded on paper, then shared with the entire group at the end of the workshop. [A full transcript of all the notes from all groups will be available from MAS. I’ve asked for a copy as soon as its available. In my group, we covered both sides of two large sheets of paper!]

Shared observations about Flatbush’s assets included:

  • diversity (cultural; economic; ethnic; racial; religious);
  • proximity to Prospect Park;
  • good public transportation;
  • good schools;
  • proximity to Brooklyn College;
  • distinctive, historic neighborhood character;
  • strong and active community-based organizations;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • long tenure of many residents;
  • and locally-owned businesses.

Shared observations about challenges included:

  • lack of neighborhood parks;
  • school overcrowding;
  • lack of space for artists;
  • lack of active ways to engage youth;
  • lack of space for public assembly, such as community, senior, and youth centers; gentrification;
  • lack of affordable housing;
  • traffic;
  • achieving energy efficiency in buildings;
  • gang activity (both real and perceived);
  • lack of parking;
  • and inadequate sanitation in some areas.

Some interesting macro-level impressions: the neighborhood is large and varies in character and composition from place to place and consequently assets and challenges vary from place to place.

Next step: Workshop 2 at Brooklyn College Conference Center, Wednesday, December 12. [Note: This will start at 6:30pm, not 7pm as reported in these notes as sent out to Workshop participants.] Agenda: public forum to identify sustainability goals.

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