Block party goes green in New York

October 2010 News Cherise Fong - CNN

(CNN) -- Who would have thought that so many different approaches to greening our everyday lives could fit around a single street block in Brooklyn?

On October 2, 2010, GreenHomeNYC's first "New New York Block Party" showed residents not only how much is being done through green initiatives and businesses within their community, but what they can do as individuals to make a difference in their own homes and daily practices.

"We decided to take our mission out into the streets, to go out into the neighborhood and bring green information to people directly," said GreenHomeNYC's Gita Nandan.

"But it's not just the vendors, it's the activities. It's a DIY hands-on experience. So you don't just come get a flyer and walk away. You learn how to prune a street tree, how to do composting... People are coming and learning and figuring out how they can take some of these things home and do them themselves."

Throughout the day the block of Third Street between Hoyt and Bond streets and its immediate vicinity bubbled with activity. Organizers estimated that around 1,500 people attended from surrounding neighborhoods.

In the middle of the block, David Seiter, the founder of Future Green Studio, a Brooklyn-based design firm specialized in green roof landscaping, demonstrated greenroofing techniques in a dedicated nursery.

Further down, Sam Bishop of Trees New York gave a tree-pruning demonstration, while Kate Zidar of Stormwater Infrastructure Matters Coalition explained the bigger drainage picture around Third Street and how it relates to the sewers below.

BoroughBees blogger Tim O'Neal shared his passion for urban beekeeping with a display of live bees, pointing out that two-thirds of the world's fruits and vegetables rely on pollination by honeybees. Since March 2010, beekeeping is now legal in all five boroughs of New York City.

Playful solar-powered attractions included Aeron Solar's shadow-sensitive photovoltaic panel, which acted as an on/off switch for a water fountain, and Solar One's children's workshop for building solar racecars.

One of the highlights of the event was the grand opening of Jerko, an experimental motorless houseboat, which uses a wood stove, a naturally filtered gray water system, solar thermal energy, and a living wall. Its built-in wetland dock proposes to clean the canal naturally with phragmites.

One of the most committed to his cause was Gennaro Brooks-Church, director of the green contractor firm Eco Brooklyn. He opened up his own work-in-progress, his brownstone home on Second Street. He gave guided tours of the house's "zero waste" features, including salvaged wood flooring, clay walls, gray-water recycling, solar thermal piping and photovoltaic energy, a green roof and bee hives.


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