project leader
David R
406 Ave. P
Brooklyn (Midwood)
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Early organizing and volunteer efforts

the project

While I am not part of a group yet, I hope that this project will result in the formation of a group.

Three years ago, the City planted additional trees on the Ave. P, Brooklyn block segment between Ocean Parkway and McDonald Avenue (a business district) to bring the total number of tree pits to about twenty in that segment. No one was taking care of the tree pits and they were growing weeds and accumulating trash. This is in addition to the trash and cigarette butts already tossed onto the street by pedestrians, motorists and businesses.

I contacted Million Trees NYC and representatives came with gardening tools and showed me how to clean and maintain tree pits. I went on to weed and remove trash from all twenty tree pits. I also bought mulch and marigolds for about three pits with my own money to demonstrate the potential of the project to the community. I hope to go on to provide mulch, flowers and inexpensive tree guards for all twenty pits. I have also purchased a narrow-neck cigarette receptacle. My intention is to offer it to any business that has smokers associated with it  and is willing to use and maintain it. My hope is that this will become a block association that will act as a model for other area blocks (such as Kings Highway) and will foster pride in the community. As about ten stores are out of business on this small stretch, I hope that a more attractive environment will also encourage people to occupy these vacant stores, thus decreasing the atmosphere of chaos associated with store vacancy.

the steps

1) weed and remove trash from all tree pits (done)

2) deposit mulch and plant flowers in all tree pits

3) provide tree guards for all tree pits

4) trim weeds growing through sidewalk cracks

5) offer cigarette butt receptacles free to any store that agrees to use and maintain them

why we're doing it

Both. While trees should make a block more pleasant, the opposite was happening as neglected tree pits accumulated forests of weeds and mounds of trash. Furthermore, there has been an atmosphere of neglect on the block, as evidenced by the frequency of littering. I think a little work can go a long way, in this instance.


For 19 tree pits: mulch at $7.00/bagx19=$133.00 flowers at $15.00 a flatx19=$285.00 tree guards at $30.64 a package (1 pkg. for 3 pits) x7=$214.47 6 ash trays (including shipping=$290.00) project total = $922.47
third party credit card processing fee (3%)= $27.67
ioby fiscal sponsorship (5%)= $46.12
total to fundraise= $996.26

New addition, Spring 2013:
19 bags of mulch cost $6.50 each (one per tree pit), for 19 tree pits = $123.50

ioby Platform Fee  waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $6
3rd Party Credit Card Processing Fee (3%) $4



Early organizing and volunteer efforts


I weeded all nineteen tree plots during the winter so that they would be prepared for planting in the spring. The Sovereign Bank in my target area  donated meeting space after-hours, and a graphic artist friend composed an invitation flier. I scheduled a meeting, and personally brought the invitation flier to every store in my target area, in addition to inviting several friends. Some merchants declined the invitation, but others expressed interest. I was somewhat disappointed, therefore, when only my friends and representatives from the bank came to the meeting. Nevertheless, I had an outline for the meeting which we followed, discussing points such as materials to be purchased, volunteer actions requested from the community, future plans, and other suggestions. I was hoping to publicize the need to contribute to my IOBY website. My next step is to send letters requesting contributions to some of the larger businesses in my target area. Also, I have a banner which reads "Avenue P Improvement Project" which I intend to display at a folding table on Avenue P for the purpose of requesting contributions from pedestrians. I also intend to request tree pit adoption commitments from specific businesses. Tree pit adoption commitment will require a business to water, weed and clear trash from  their chosen tree pits.

In order to publicize the project and my need for volunteers and funding, I introduced the project at my community board meeting. After the meeting, several people acknowledged the value of the project and offered ideas for either funding or materials contributions.

Making Contacts on Avenue P


Several years ago, a condominium was built in my neighborhood in Brooklyn on Avenue P between Ocean Parkway and McDonald Avenue. At that time, several new tree pits were dug in the sidewalks in that stretch of the block. Avenue P, in this area, is a business district, with street-level stores and residential units above the stores. I noticed that the new tree pits joined the existing tree pits in a state of general neglect. Weeds grew waist high, and trash accumulated among the weeds, as well as on the sidewalks, and, especially, in front of vacant stores. One prevelant form of litter was cigarette butts, ubiquitous because there are no outdoor ash trays so smokers simply toss the used butts onto the sidewalks or into the tree pits. I decided that the area needed a makeover, not only of aesthetics, but of attitude. I knew that, if a sense of stewardship could not be cultivated, then any efforts at beautification would be temporary, at best. My conversations with area residents and business owners was revealing. Many people expected someone else to take responsibility for the unkempt parts of the block. Frequently, they complained that the City was not doing its job. No one wanted to take responsibility for the messy sidewalks and tree pits.

I contacted Million Trees, NYC, and representatives came to my block with tools and enough flowers for one tree pit. They showed me how to weed and how to take care of the trees, and how I could recruite businesses to take care of tree pits in front of their stores. I decided that I wanted mulch, flowers and tree guards in the approximately twenty tree pits in question. I also wanted to be able to offer free outdoor ash trays to any store that would be willing to use and maintain them. The Parks Department helped me to locate resources, including IOBY, that could help me pay for the improvements. IOBY established a project page for me, and I had business cards printed with the project page information so that I could begin to solicit donations.  I also realized that the project would be more effective if an organization of local businesses, rather than myself, alone, was behind it. I began going from store to store, explaining my project and asking for support. I spent much of the summer weeding tree pits and planting flowers bought with my own money in several of them. I did this to show people what potential this project could have if carried to completion. I continue to go into the stores with my business cards and a paper copy of my IOBY web page to solicit support. I am hoping to locate a meeting hall and I would like to call a meeting and establish an organization for the purpose of substantial and permanent improvement of the aesthetics on that stretch of Avenue P. The existence of an organization would also give me access to funds from entities that grant monies to organizations but not to individuals. I hope to have the tree pits adopted and improvements in place by the spring of 2012. If the project is successful on Avenue P, I would like to expand it to other business districts in the area. In particular, I would like to be ablel to offer free ash trays to any stores that agree to use and maintian them, and I hope that common use of these ash trays serves as a regional symbol that people around here care about their neighborhood and won't tolerate anyone abusing it.


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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