Give Back to Your Community This Holiday Season

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Brooklyn is well known for many things: Food, trends, neighborhood envy, and, most importantly, community.

Community has been one of the best things I’ve discovered since moving to New York. At the height of the pandemic, I watched people come together to fill community fridges in Bed-Stuy. Communities fought to save parks like East River Park in Manhattan, and to bring back a dwindling ecology with organizations like the Billion Oyster Project. Everything from building to business is made better by the power of community work. In the past few years there has been an uptick in community gardens, new groups working to conserve our land, and initiatives by people who just want to make our corner of the world a little bit better.

In this season of giving, here are some organizations that are worth learning about, volunteering with, or donating to. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point for anyone interested in joining in. 

  1. Marine Park Alliance

Marine Park Alliance has been around since 2014 as a grassroots organization with a vision to make Marine Park a desirable destination. The Alliance creates educational and cultural programming for the benefit of the diverse range of people seeking recreation and relaxation in the greenspace. They see the park as a place for social bridging and bonding across ethnicities and generations, and work to undo past barriers to enjoying the park, providing all programming free of cost. The Alliance collaborates with other organizations to care for Marine Park’s Forever Wild Preserve, raise awareness about the park, and develop the next generation of public conversation. 

To learn more about Marine Park Alliance, check out their website for information on public programming, volunteer opportunities, and donation opportunities. 

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  1. Gotham Bat Conservancy

Known for being the home of the most iconic “bat” himself, Gotham Bat Conservancy is a new organization dedicated to protecting and rescuing bats in New York. Currently, more than half of New York’s bat species are threatened by disease and habitat destruction. 

Bats play a vital role in a variety of ecological, social, and economic systems and provide essential pest control, seed dispersal, and pollination. Gotham Bat Conservancy’s Bat Sanctuary Program consists of a collection of parks, community gardens, and other green spaces that serve both as habitat for bats and as an important resource for education. The conservancy’s Citizen Science Project allows anyone with a smartphone to contribute directly to scientific research, helping to monitor changes to bat populations over time and track the impacts of our ongoing efforts.

To learn more about Gotham Bat Conservancy, check out their website for more information on the citizen science project, volunteer opportunities, and donation opportunities. 

  1. BK ROT

BK ROT is New York City's first community-supported, bike-powered, fossil fuel free food waste hauling and composting service. They assist in composting for businesses, homes, consultations, and even offer fresh compost for home gardeners. The project, which is powered by youth, has diverted over 936,000 pounds of food waste since the project began. 

In a city where ⅓ of waste is diverted to landfills, BK ROT is trying to make a difference. Their community-supported and environmental justice-minded mission has also generated income for the youth who run the project, which keeps the project running and expanding.

Food scrap drop-offs are on Sundays from 12-3pm. More information on public programming and education can be found on their website, as well as volunteer opportunities, and donation opportunities.

  1. PlantXChange

PlantXChange is a NYC plant network providing connections to nature and community in our urban jungle. They offer public education on how to raise plants, workshops on propagation, host plant exchanges, and offer free distribution of resources like seeds, dirt and pots. PlantXChange aims to bring plants into every home because for them, the joy of plants is priceless. 

To participate in their public programming, follow @PlantXChange on Instagram. There, you can also sign up to be a plant parent and propagate plants for distribution to the community. They also accept plant donations, with more information available on their Instagram. To donate to PlantXChange, you can Venmo @Plantxchange, name appears as PLANTXCHANGE NY. 

  1. TransportationAlternatives

TransportationAlternatives is a member-driven non-profit organization and their goal is to make streets for people. They work to advocate for more bike lanes, safer streets for pedestrians, open street projects, and more in the effort to reclaim New York City from the cars. Making the city more bike-friendly is part of their larger climate goals to have a cleaner New York. Since their inception 50 years ago, TransportationAlternatives has successfully pushed for the construction of over 1,000 miles of bike lanes and over 70 public plazas on New York City streets. They brought the first public bike share system, the first protected bike lanes, the world’s largest automated speed safety camera system, and the nation’s first Vision Zero initiative to New York City. 

With 30,000 members in New York, their work is only beginning. Check out their website to get involved, donate, or learn more. 

There are so many wonderful organizations in Brooklyn, but this is just a short list. Almost every green space has an organization dedicated to preservation, and every neighborhood has smaller groups working hard behind the scenes. We’ll be sharing more of the great work of these local groups and organizations in Bluedot Brooklyn’s Field Notes.

If you're involved in a great initiative dedicated to keeping Brooklyn green, please let us know at [email protected].


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Michaela Keil
Michaela Keil
Michaela Keil is the Editor of Bluedot Living Brooklyn, and the Managing Editor, Special Projects, for the Brooklyn Eagle. When she's not writing, you can either find her outside — in the rain, shine, snow, or cold — or inside baking bread. Find her on twitter @mkeil16.
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