BUILD IT GREEN!
How to take on home-improvement projects without using mass-produced, imported materials purchased at a big-box chain? Build It Green!, in Astoria, sells salvaged construction materials for super cheap, with all proceeds going to support the educational efforts of their sponsor, the Community Environmental Center. bignyc.org.
The outdoor Cuban restaurant/flea market/drive-in movie theater/Fort Greene community hot spot runs on solar panels, caught rainwater, and a pedal-powered smoothie machine. Habana Outpost reopens for 2008 with a two-day Earth Day festival on April 19 and 20. ecoeatery.com.
THE LOWER EAST SIDE ECOLOGY CENTER
That gorgeous green space on East 7th between B and C — along with its composting and recycling services, community garden, and special programs — is one of several projects undertake by the LESEC, aka Oustanding Renewal Enterprises, an organization dedicated to supplementing NYC’s frankly lagging recycling services (especially composting), and fostering community and youth involvement in public open spaces. lesecologycenter.org.
Bicycles are good exercise, long-lasting, and zero-impact alternatives to exhaust-spewing modes of transportation. In other words, they’re green as a dollar bill in the wallet of an envious leprechaun on an April morn, and no reckoning of urban environmentalism would be complete without ‘em. Recycle-a-Bicycle salvages whole or parts of used bikes, donating them to low-income youth and selling and repairing them cheaply (thus making cycling a universally feasible option), in multiple locations staffed largely by volunteers from public schools. recycleabicycle.org.
THE NEW YORK RESTORATION PROJECT
Founded by Bette Midler, the NYRP was created as a “conservancy of forgotten places” and is dedicated to restoring and developing underused parks and community gardens. Based in the belief that all neighborhoods have a right to green space, the NYRP has reclaimed over 400 acres of underused land since it began in 1995. nyrp.org.
These guys have been around since the early 1970s fighting the good fight against car-crazy America, advocating for the rights of cyclists and pedestrians, and working tirelessly to make innovations in public transportation a reality in New York City. transalt.org
PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES
The PPS works globally to facilitate hands-on engagement for people who want to make a difference where they live, in everything from transportation infrastructure to waterfront reclamation. The PPS works with municipalities and developers to make sure the needs of citizens aren’t ignored for the sake of profit. pps.org
Western consumption is madness... We need salvation… thankfully, the Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping, is prepared to offer it. Along with his brilliant partner, Savitri D, the Rev rouses the rabble in the fight against globalized consumerism and its localized incarnations (or “possessions” as the case may be, given Billy’s frequent exorcisms of corporate box stores). His next revival meeting is April 6, at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, 6pm. revbilly.com
KATHERINE NAPLATARSKI AND THE GWAPP TREE COMMITTEE
What’s a GWAPP? That would be the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning, a coalition of community groups committed to making the North Brooklyn waterfront a clean, safe place accessible to all Brooklynites (in case you hadn’t noticed, great stretches of Brooklyn waterfront have been—and will be—developed for privately owned super-condos, with little provision for public space). One way in which GWAPP is seeking to clean up the area is with thousands of trees, aka nature’s air filters. In cooperation with the Park’s Forestry Department, the GWAPP Tree Committee (spearheaded by Ms. Naplatarski) is getting street trees planted in industrial business zones, parks and residential areas, and is fighting to get North Brooklyn — currently well below the citywide average for greenery — its fair share of trees, glorious trees. Remember: trees=air=good. gwapp.org
Danish architect Jan Gehl is kind of a roving, international superhero of environmentally responsible, human-scale urban planning. At the heart of Gehl’s approach to architecture and the city is the role of the person. While that doesn’t sound that earth-shattering, in the face of a generation of bloated starchitecture, a focus on the human experience of place is long overdue. Lucky for New York, Transportation Alternatives (see above) has snagged his services here for a year. gehlarchitects.dk.