By Allison Currier
Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) is one of North Brooklyn’s oldest grassroots advocacy organizations. Founded in 1994, NAG started as Neighbors Against Garbage fighting an illegal waste transfer station that was poisoning the community. Through that feeling of urgency, the young NAG members realized the power of people and starting building relationships with other community groups and local elected officials. Changing their name was one step in turning NAG into a multi-issue organization.
Growing up in the beautiful city of New York, I knew my passion for community would find its way into my future. After getting my BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in social justice and policy at Ithaca College, I took some time off, traveled, tried things, then moved back to my little hometown of NYC. As NAG’S Environmental Organizer, I’ve gotten the unique opportunity to organize on two important issues, waste management in the foodservice industry and leaf contamination in soil. From my background in bartending to campus campaign organizing, fighting for environmental justice in North Brooklyn has been an empowering experience.
Learn more about what NAG does! Below is a list of our current active projects and head over to nag-brooklyn.org to stay involved.
ToxiCity Map: NAG put together an interactive toxicity map of toxic hotspots around the community
NuHart Site Remediation: NAG hired a community advisor for our superfund site. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Greenpoint
Greenpoint Lead in Garden Soil Outreach project: This GCEF funded project partners with Brooklyn College Soils Institute and Eco Schools to educate the community the health risks of lead contamination in soil.
Curb Your Litter: Greenpoint!: This project is a strong partnership with the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce
Open Space Awareness Campaign: Dive into the history of the fight for open space in North Brooklyn! NAG’S been working on these issues since 1994.
These projects are funded through various grants- but the most fun form of funding is our annual NAG Gala! At this year’s gala, hundreds of community members showed up to support NAG, including some big names in local elections. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Council Members Antonio Reynoso, Stephen Levin and State Assemblymember Joe Lentol all briefly spoke about their relationship to the organization. The two honorees this year were Marty Needleman- chief council of Brooklyn Legal Services, and Lisa Bloodgood- a long time community advocate through Stephen Levins office. Finally, NAG’s board member Ward Dennis presented the Business Hero Award to the recently sold East River Ferry- highlighting their community support through the years.
Antonio Reynoso (photo from Brooklyn Eagle)
Rita Beth Pasarell, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Council Environmental Liaison Lisa Bloodgood: (photo from Brooklyn Eagle)
So what is NAG planning to do with this success? One project which launched earlier in December 2016 is called Shareware! Shareware is a hands on way to address North Brooklyn’s waste issue. With 40% of NYC waste processed in our community, we are the first east coast project working on a reuse program with restaurants.
Part of a larger project called Reduce Reuse Recycle Greenpoint, Anella and Jimmy’s restaurants are participating in this GCEF-funded pilot to test the feasibility of a wider-ranging program that reduces waste across the restaurant sector by incorporating more reusables into the materials stream. In many cases, neighborhood residents order from the same restaurants, and end up throwing away one-time-use containers after every meal. This pilot will introduce the opportunity for repeat customers to choose a reusable container option.
How do you sign up? Want to learn more and be part of this FREE 5-month pilot? Head over to NAG’s webpage!