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Where Legacy Begins…



Hattie Carthan and Herbert Von King, 1972

 By David Mark Greaves

Magnolia Tree Earth Center of Bedford Stuyvesant is one of those community resources that punches way above its weight in direct importance to the residents. I know because I am a former President of the Board and am well aware of the joy the center brings to the community. Baby showers, midwife seminars, intergenerational Scrabble, art displays, lectures and meetings.

Ms. Hattie Carthan, founder of the Magnolia Tree Earth Center of Bedford Stuyvesant (MTEC and Mr. Herbert Von King, the “Mayor of Bedford-Stuyvesant,” for whom the 7.8 acre park across from the center is named, seen here in 1972, served their Brooklyn community for nearly a combined 100 years of active community leadership: he, in politics and business, and she, as an advocate for urban ecology awareness. Both community icons were instrumental in planting 1,500 trees in the Bed-Stuy area and dozens of gardens in formerly vacant lots before the advent of the national urban green awareness and beautification movements.

These three community-controlled brownstones across from the largest greenspace in the area are a legacy from another era, and the services it provides are a fragile defense from the economic realities of Bedford Stuyvesant.

There are construction costs and fines for violations because there isn’t money for the construction costs, leading to a spiral into debt.


The board, led by Wayne Devonish, is fighting the good fight, but they need financial support from all levels of government to preserve something the larger institutions work so hard for, a natural visceral connection of the institution to the people on the ground. Donate any amount at: