Beekman Compost is a local initiative in Brooklyn's Prospect Lefferts Garden neighborhood (Flatbush), which is home to many single family residences and high-density residential buildings and segmented by several busy, garbage strewn thoroughfares. It is also an underserved neighborhood with a large low-income population that faces significant challenges, such as high unemployment rates, a recent increase in crime and health issues such as high asthma rates and high levels of obesity and diabetes. Many of the neighborhood's residents are young people.
The project sprung from ongoing community engagement efforts to unite the neighborhood’s diverse tenants, homeowners and businesses. This particular initiative aims to expand the community's access to and participation with composting, while creating compost-related positions for young adults. By tying the two together, the project fosters long term engagement with composting and offers locally-based season jobs to young adults. The project trains youth as compost coordinators, teaching them everything from outreach to collection to construction and providing them with valuable green jobs skills. Essentially, these youth are part of an intergenerational programmatic community-level effort to build a generation of civic-minded New Yorkers that will promote environmental stewardship in their neighborhood.
The initiative works in partnership with another community based initiative called Compost for Brooklyn, a project in neighboring Kensington, Brooklyn that empowers city residents to reduce waste through a community composting program in an urban garden that up until 2 years ago was a vacant lot.The garden is now home to multiple varieties of plants, vegetables and pollinators.
This is one among many wonderful examples of a community-based project that successfully reached out to and built a coalition with another like-minded organization in New York. This is precisely what is needed to build more civically minded and greener communities together to revitalize cities. In fact many of these projects were brought together by Change By Us, an online social crowdsourcing platform launched by the City of NYC to connect New Yorkers to community-based projects and resources.