Transforming a B’klyn Neighborhood

The planting of bushes, trees and flowers at 470 Ocean Avenue has transformed the once neglected green spaces into a flowering oasis. The building’s tenants association held an intimate ribbon-cutting ceremony June 22, with light breakfast foods in their front courtyard to celebrate Brooklyn’s newest green garden.

Just in time for Summer, this project is the first major undertaking for the 470 Ocean Avenue Tenants Association (470 OATA), since it was formed in February 2012.

The Saturday morning ceremony was a celebration to mark the completion of the project, and also served as an occasion to acknowledge the OATA executive board and management team, as well as community members and the new management team at the property owner’s Brooklyn office. OATA invites building residents as well as members from community business associations, empowerment organizations, real estate, and press (particularly bloggers). Special recognition will be given to the building’s Superintendent, Mr. Cherry and Porter, Mr. Harry.

OATA President, Anjanette Levert, undertook the garden as a community project while enrolled in the course, Self-Expression in Leadership at Landmark Worldwide. New to the building and a public and green space advocate, Ms. Levert saw the need to upgrade the conversations of resignation, and frustration experienced by her neighbors with the building management and other neighbors.

Plants and flowers have the power to positively affect the psyche of an individual, a community and a neighborhood. To have greenery in a neighborhood denotes the residents are thriving because there’s a priority on cultivating living organisms. Green and public spaces help to create community by providing a physical space and, possibly, an emotional space to foster openness, mutual respect and consideration among neighbors. In the two weeks since the planting, tenants report feeling more positive or happier as they leave the building, and more tranquil and peaceful as they return in the evening.

“This was a project born out of one person’s vision and then expanded on and inspired by a community,” said Ms. Levert. “Through this project lives have been positively altered. People, who would have never met, did. Repairs got made. Barriers were moved. Things that historically had never moved…moved.”

However, what seemed like a reasonable request of landscaping to property management, The Pinnacle Group, required a 15-month full campaign that started with the creation of the tenants association, followed with petitions and weekly phone calls. Eventually Larry Jayson of the Brooklyn Housing and Family Services interceded on OATA’s behalf with Pinnacle’s corporate management.

According to Levert, some of the benefits of this project include an enhanced well-being of the community, increased oxygen in our neighborhood, stoppage of soil erosion and an improve tenant-landlord relationship.

In attendance were: OATA officers: Anjanette Levert, president; Hyacinth Carbon, vice president; Kendall Julian, corresponding secretary; Shahchia Payne, recording secretary, Ruby Orange, treasurer and Marcia Foster, assistant treasurer. Jon Goss and Larry Jayson of Brooklyn Housing and Family Services and Pinnacle Management’s Brooklyn Office Manager, Edward Suazo.