Verde Summit Gives Voice to Cypress Hills and East New York Residents

A young person gives remarks at the podium at Verde Summit while two others stand on either side of him
The Verde Summit included people all ages in workshop activities as well as speaking opportunities. Photo by Régine Romain, courtesy of CHLDC.

On October 21st and 22nd, 2011, over 200 Cypress Hills and East New York community members came together to re-envision the way their neighborhoods look, feel and work at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC)’s Verde Summit, an inclusive, bi-lingual community planning event held at the Cypress Hills Community School.

Pratt Center worked closely with CHLDC to plan the summit, with sponsorship from the Brooklyn Community Foundation. The Summit incorporated themes that were revealed by more than 600 responses to a Community Satisfaction Survey, designed by Pratt Center and conducted by CHLDC during the spring and summer of 2011, which assessed resident concerns about living, working, eating and learning in their neighborhoods.

Attendees fill seats on the floor of a gymnasium, with multiple poster displays in the back of the room that read "Eating," "Living", and "Learning"
Over 200 Cypress Hills and East New York community members came together for the Verde Summit. Photo by Régine Romain, courtesy of CHLDC.

Amanda Burden, the NYC Planning Commissioner, David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and Toya Williford from the Brooklyn Community Foundation helped kick-off the summit on October 21st with an evening reception featuring an art installation designed to present the results of the Community Satisfaction Survey. On October 22nd, residents, local business owners community leaders and outside experts engaged in activities that tackled challenges and opportunities related to the environmental and economic sustainability of the community. Workshop sessions addressed issues such as jobs, food, transportation, affordable housing, vacant lots, health, wellness and safety. 

Woman smiles as she labels the "promenade" structure she built out of small objects
Photo by Régine Romain, courtesy of CHLDC.

Afternoon sessions looked at the potential to redevelop the area’s many brownfield sites; residents of all ages came together and built beautiful models representing solutions and aspirations for new community facilities and amenities in their neighborhoods.

Adults gathered around tables work with "found objects" during an interactive workshop
Photo by Régine Romain, courtesy of CHLDC.
Young people stand around clusters of desks set up in a classroom while they work with small toys and objects
A series of interactive, intergenerational workshops invited participants to share ideas for redeveloping vacant lots in their neighborhood using found objects.

Both the Community Satisfaction Survey and the Verde Summit showed that Cypress Hills and East New York residents strongly desire functional, safe open spaces and community facilities, activities for youth, access to transportation and healthy food, and more involvement from community members. The information gathered at the Summit will be used to develop implementation plans to make improvements in the neighborhood. With continued help from Pratt Center, CHLDC will hold further community meetings to inform a draft Brownfield Opportunities Area Plan during the spring of 2012.


07 Feb, 2012