Connect with us

Community News

Creating a Greener Bed-Stuy



Community Greeners: On Saturday, June 24, 50 volunteers and organizing leaders and the Friends of Jackie Robinson Park Playground showed up to create over 40 flowering planters along the Malcolm X Blvd corridor, between Chauncey and Decatur. Cover Photo:Jamyra Salley. Inset Photo:David Greaves. Page 3

By Jamyra Salley and Stefanie Siegel
Photography, Jamyra Salley

After more than a year of planning, the Create a Greener Bed-Stuy event has finally happened!
On Saturday, June 24, over 50 volunteers and organizing leaders showed up to create over 40 flowering planters along the Malcolm X Blvd corridor, between Chauncey and Decatur.
The project originated when In Our BackYard (IOBY), a national crowdfunding platform, offered an opportunity to raise funds for a quality-of-life project that would address environmental justice issues in the neighborhood. All funds up to $5,000 would be matched by the NYC Environmental Justice and Sustainability Match Program.
Support to raise the funds included a collective of people who have organized primarily to combat the problem of gun violence using non-criminal means.
The Friends of Jackie Robinson Park Playground made up of local residents, business owners, and nonprofits, developed the idea for the Creating a Greener BedStuy project and linked up with Ji Hae Byun, founder of LIVIN NYC, a local plant design and care studio. The community effort raised $16,822 to bring plants, trees, and flowers to the neighborhood and to train local community members on how to care for the new plants.

Filling and flowering one of 40 planter boxes on Malcolm X were. from left to right: Lauren Siongco, J Kwon, Lucie McCormick, Helen Lee and Ejolee Mitchel. photo by David Greaves

The Community Stewardship component of the project is especially important to the organizers. The Stewards will be paid to maintain the plantings. “So not only will they be learning, getting trained, gaining job experience but we are funding these jobs through this campaign,” shared one of the organizers.
Longtime community leader and homeowner, Pastor Renee Sheffey, shared her thoughts. “I think it’s long overdue. I believe that people need to see beautification. This is the introduction to Brooklyn North and so it needs to be beautiful, it needs to be an inviting environment.”
Schadrac “Shaddy’’ Laventure, a 24-year-old Bed-Stuy resident, part of the LIVIN team, and trainer for the Community Stewards shared the mission of LIVIN: “So in New York, everybody’s on the go. Everybody is pretty much locked in, no greenery. Our goal is to bring greenery to the people, and instead of it being a luxury, giving people access to nature in any sort of way– whether that’s through businesses and community projects.”

Shaddy has advice for young people who are interested in working with plants: “I started with the Green Teens program run by The Campaign Against Hunger. They have training in agriculture work for youth ages 14-20 for the summer; plus a ten-month program that offers
training in agriculture and youth activism in communities.”
Coach Frances, head coach at the Jackie Robinson Park Playground Tennis Courts, founder of HQ Tennis, and a member of FOJRPP said, “We have all the local businesses supporting us with food or water, Milk n Pull, Brooklyn Residency, and the New Sin Lee restaurant down the block. This is a busy corridor, everybody takes this path on their way to the A train, or to the bus…. they’re going to see the difference.”
Ji Hae Byun of LIVIN NYC commented, “Honestly I’m feeling all things. I feel stress leaving my body, because there was an incredible amount of planning and thoughtfulness that went into the program and this day. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of support that we’ve gotten all day.”
According to one organizer, a participant said, “When we started the work at Jackie Robinson Park we saw that the park stands between the Brevoort Houses, the Fulton Houses… a lot of apartments with residents who have been around for generations, and also a place that’s struggled with gun violence.

“This reflects some of what we felt and why this group is really here.” Another standout comment was that “plants and beautiful things nourish the soul and contribute to the health of the people who live here–another reason we wanted to focus on greening is that there are real mental health benefits from seeing a beautiful plant.”
So, what’s next? Ji Hae said, “We’re working with people who have grown up here to provide them with education on taking care of the plants. Continuing to foster that program is the immediate next step. Being part of the nurturing of that is super important. It’s just the beginning. Folks can follow @livin_nyc_ for updates on the project as well as opportunities to be involved in community events such as Greener Bed-Stuy.”
In Our BackYard is continuing to raise money to support the Community Stewards program to maintain the planters throughout the year. You can find their fundraising page at
You can follow the Friends of Jackie Robinson Park Playground (FOJRPP) on Instagram. Now that the playground’s tennis courts have been renovated, there will be a full season of programming in the park.

Continue Reading