Greening the Heart of Brooklyn
One of the most ethnically, culturally and economically diverse areas in New York City, Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood is truly worth exploring. Colonial Dutch settlers, rapid urbanization, and immigration are just some of the most influential factors that laid the foundation for this eclectic neighborhood. One By the City / For the City submitter wished that Flatbush had a green and social center, so that it can be “a green COMMUNITY,” opening up the opportunity for designers to think about adding yet another layer to this dynamic district.
At the height of its development, Flatbush was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Lowe’s Kings movie palace, but around the 1970s, the Dodgers relocated to Los Angeles, and the movie theater closed down. Unfortunately, this led to the decay of the commercial strip near Flatbush and Church Avenues. Discount shops soon dominated the area, and scores of shuttered businesses became graffiti-strewn emblems of decline. Over the past 30 years, however, Flatbush’s renissance has been spearheaded by the Flatbush Development Corporation. The group has been working with locals to improve their community and their lives. Through its youth, housing, immigration, economic development and community improvement programs, FDC is helping make Flatbush a vibrant, diverse and healthy community by capitalizing on its existing assets. A well-designed social space in the heart of Flatbush could build on this work and facilitate higher frequencies of interaction.
The interest in green space in Flatbush, meanwhile, has been especially strong since the release of PlaNYC in 2007. The plan was developed to prepare for one million more residents by strengthening the economy, combating climate change, and enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers. The FDC has responded directly to PlaNYC through Imagine Flatbush 2030, meant to bridge the gap between PlaNYC’s sustainability goals and consensus-driven, community-based planning. Sustainable Flatbush is another non-profit that brings neighbors together to mobilize, educate, and advocate for sustainable living in Flatbush and beyond. They’ve developed such programing as the Church Avenue communal garden as well as Greening Flatbush 2011.
There is clearly existing energy around using green projects to increase the social fabric in Flatbush. With proper design attention, a ‘green and social center’ could be developed to further add to the fabric of a smarter and healthier neighborhood.
Interested in taking on the challenge of creating a verdant neighborhood hub for Flatbush? Click here to register for the By the City / For the City design competition today! Entries are due by midnight (EST) on Sunday, July 31st, 2011. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!