my hood

my hood is really small. i live in a neighborhood called Prospect Lefferts gardens in Brooklyn. if you know Brooklyn its on the east side of prospect park, west of Crown Heights right next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Flatbush. theres two coffee shops and one of them just closed. there are a few bars and restaurants and a couple nice little spots. Ive got a nail place and a lola pet store, but thats about it. but i see the beautiful potential here growing everyday. there is a group called Prospect Lefferts Gardens Arts and they promote the arts, supports local artists, and builds community through celebrating the vibrant creativity of the residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods. A few years ago when I moved over here, it was supposed to be real up and coming, and a vacant lot had just been bought right next to the Subway, where a new modern high rise would be built. The combination of crumbling economics and an outpour of community resistance put the building on hold and it still remains an empty field. The PLG Arts Group quickly turned unattractive fences surrounding the lot into a community art project and local artists were booked to paint each section with their own unique vision. Projects have spread across as murals on buildings and it has been a very welcome addition to the hood. Most recently they rented out an abandoned seafood restaurant and turned into a makeshift gallery for one of the neighborhoods budding artists.

Brian Hernandez-Halloran presented a work called Between Neighbors. The oils on canvas reflect social boundaries in a multi-cultural, multi-racial neighborhood undergoing gentrification.

The gallery also encourages collective artwork including a video room where neighbors can voice their opinion about the event or anything really which will then be played during the rest of the show. A large map was placed on the wall and patrons were asked to write down an experience about the place on the map on paper, put it in an envelope and tack it to the spot and share with everyone. And a trash collective was started from artists and neighbors making an example of how little and how expensive organic fare is. Brochures for a blossoming co-op were displayed. I am beyond excited.

Food is a touch and go in this hood. I usually truck my produce in from Manhattan and its one of the few downsides I find here. But lately, I was happy to discover something amazing in my building. A group called the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association is sponsoring a youth group called the Compost Collection Project. When I lived in North Carolina, I saw people compost but I never believed in would happen here in Brooklyn. Every Friday, a bucket is placed on every floor of my building in an effort to collect food scraps and improve the soil. Composting collects fruit vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea, egg shells, nuts bread rice and old flowers and potting soil to give back to the earth and should not include meat, dairy bones or cooked foods.

Neighborhoods, like most everything is a little different in New York. Everyone is plugged in to it, like were all listening to the same album, riding the same trains and walking the same streets. Everyone is wrapped up in instant gratification and the now. I think that its very rare to be able to see something actually grow in Brooklyn. Things are here, then they are gone. People rush from here to there, not thinking about the journey cause how inspiring is a crowded bus. Of course I am one of those people. Wanting a trader joes and a starbucks on my block, but the opposite makes me appreciate my little hood the way it deserves. Every painting, every new little gesture of gratitude isnt rushed by me on the way to the train. Its appreciated, it gets my attention, and my gratitude.