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PR- 051-12
February 11, 2012


'Grow Our Grassroots' Connects Neighborhood Projects with Citywide Initiatives to Build Greener, Greater New York

As part of the ongoing work to engage New Yorkers in the City’s long-term sustainability program, Mayor Bloomberg today convened the first-ever PlaNYC summit to make sustainability a part of local communities. Hundreds of participants throughout the five boroughs attended the Grow Our Grassroots summit to learn how neighborhoods can take an active role in the initiatives for a greener, greater New York. City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland, Office of Long-term Planning & Sustainability Director David Bragdon, Chief Service Officer Dihann Billings-Burford and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz joined New Yorkers at Brooklyn Borough Hall for a series of workshops, such as caring for trees planted as part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative; using social media to motivate neighbors; and starting a community-compost. Grow Our Grassroots is the first of many such efforts to connect local engagement with PlaNYC’s citywide initiatives to build upon their success and help meet New York’s sustainability goals.  

“New York City has made great progress since we first launched PlaNYC, and we need New Yorkers’ help to support that work by caring for more than half of a million trees and upwards of 200 schoolyard to playground parks, as well as launching projects of their own,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Local participation can have a big impact, and by directly engaging with communities across the City, we will not only meet but surpass our goals to build a safer, healthier and cleaner future.”

“We need everyone to make their local trees part of their family tree,” said Commissioner Benepe. “We need New Yorkers to say ‘I’m In’ and help us look after the hundreds of thousands of trees we’ve planted so far. To date we have planted over half a million trees, but there is more work to do to reach our goal of one million. The success of MillionTreesNYC depends on the survival of the young trees we plant, and their survival is directly linked to the successes of our army of volunteers.”

“One of the keys to the success of the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan lies in the ability to engage New Yorkers at the grassroots level,” said Commissioner Strickland. “Our efforts range from funding community projects with millions in grants to providing rain barrels for capture and reuse of stormwater. DEP is excited to introduce the Right of Way Bioswale to the dedicated tree stewards participating in Grow Our Grassroots. Bioswales divert stormwater away from the combined sewer system, helping to improve the City's waterways while also providing all the benefits of urban greening. Together with innovative programs like Greenstreets, MillionTreesNYC and Change By Us NYC, we’re encouraging communities to help deliver on the promise of a greener, greater New York.”

“Creating a greener and greater NYC means greener and greater neighborhoods, one tree at a time, one street at a time.” said David Bragdon, Director of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, “Saturday’s workshop will tap into New Yorkers’ individual instincts for stewardship and passion for making their neighborhoods better.”

“At NYC Service we’ve seen the impact that empowered, committed citizens can have, so I’m thrilled that today’s summit is bringing New Yorkers together to share ideas about greening our City,” said Chief Service Officer Billings-Burford, “It’s great to be here with so many of our City and nonprofit partners to both celebrate our accomplishments and accelerate the work we still have to do to. Networks like the ones we build today that will make a greener, greater New York.”

“We have a shared goal of composting and recycling convenient and easy,” said Executive Director of GrowNYC Marcel Van Ooyen. “By offering regular opportunities at greenmarkets in all five boroughs, GrowNYC has kept 1.34 million pounds of textiles and 357,000 pounds of food scraps from landfills since 2007. This weekend’s summit is a great opportunity for composters and gardeners to learn the basics of composting in New York City and for us to learn from their success. We look forward to building on this collaborative partnership in to make composting and recycling even easier and more widespread.”

The Grow Our Grassroots summit featured several different workshop sessions meant to support and expand upon the initiatives launched as a part of PlaNYC. Participants had the opportunity to learn how to care for newly-planted trees in Tree Watering 101; connect with neighbors on community projects in Community Organizing; set up a local inventory of organizers and projects in Mapping the Stewardship Network; and get tips on finding and applying for funds in Need Money? Fundraising for the People. Representatives from the Departments of Sanitation and Transportation, and GrowNYC also held office hours to provide direct consultation with attendees. The collaboration between City agencies, offices and community partners included: the Parks Department, DEP, MillionTreesNYC, NYC Service, New York Restoration Project, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and the Citizens Committee of New York.

Mayor Bloomberg launched PlaNYC in 2007 to build a sustainable City that could meet the needs of a growing population, support a competitive economy, combat climate change and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Since then, the City has reached impressive milestones, such as the planting of more than 500,000 trees, the opening of 207 schoolyard to playgrounds, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Mayor released an update to PlaNYC in 2011, setting 132 new initiatives and 400 new milestones to meet by December 31, 2013.


Stu Loeser / Lauren Passalacqua   (212) 788-2958


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