I attended my first community board meeting on September 11, 2017. Just before I get into my recap of the meeting, let's indulge in a history lesson.
I am a Brooklyn native. I was born in Flatbush where I lived for ten years; migrated to Canarsie, 13 years later moved back to Flatbush where I have lived for more than four years now. Just to summarize, that makes me 27 and highly qualified to speak on the neighborhood.
Back to the meeting - I've wanted to attend a community board meeting now for about a year. However; life and time constraints have always gotten in the way. Thanks to the powers that be, I finally made it to one. For those that don't know, community boards decide the fate of your neighborhood. Everything you can think of that your community needs starts with the community board. The community board plays an important advisory role in dealing with land use and zoning matters, the City budget, municipal service delivery, and many other issues relating to the community’s welfare. For more information on the role of the community board in NYC check here.
Like any disgruntled resident, I came to the meeting with a list of things that I wanted to be fixed. However; I’m a very calculated person so I wasn't going to just spit out a laundry list of complaints at my first meeting. I simply came to observe how the board functions and what I could expect out of the board. I needed to figure out the best way to get my concerns acknowledged and acted upon.
I listened to council members, and board members report about the accomplishments they've achieved for their distinct neighborhoods. They were particular about items such as placing stop lights at dangerous intersections, hiring a crossing guard for school zones, planting trees, etc. I became extremely frustrated because these great things were being done in other districts while the one I lived in remains stagnant.
I left the meeting feeling a multitude of emotions. I did not quite know how I felt, but there was one thing I did know, and that was that I could not wait for someone else to come along and give my community the makeover it needed. From that thought, was born the idea of “Fresh Start.”
During my time away from Flatbush, I lived in Nashville, TN for four years and have visited many communities both in and out of the United States. After seeing how other neighborhoods take care of their communities, I couldn't understand why we were ok with living in filth in NYC - it's not just Brooklyn, but the entire NYC metropolitan area is characterized as one of the dirtiest cities in the US - #11 to be exact per a 2012 Forbes ranking.
I've witnessed the neighborhood change due to gentrification over the four years I've migrated back - Multiple businesses popping up, new construction homes and condominiums - Yet, despite growing infrastructural developments within the community, our streets and parks are still plagued with dirt. I grew tired of walking over piles of garbage every morning as I traveled to work. We must approach cleanliness in an entirely new and different way if we are to reclaim our communities; we must take a giant stride towards a Fresh Start.
"Fresh Start" is a community giving campaign ran by the community and serving the community. Our goal is to keep the neighborhood clean while providing residents with the opportunity to earn money working where they live. Fresh Start will provide clean-up initiatives to help keep Flatbush at its best for everyone to enjoy.
For more information on Fresh Start and how to contribute click here.