The free contest, a project of GreenBridge and Borough President Marty Markowitz, and sponsored by Brooklyn Community Foundation, is a borough-wide effort to bring blocks together to green and beautify Brooklyn.
“The contest has a life of its own,” says Robin Simmen, director of Greenbridge, the community environmental horticulture program of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “As one block starts to look nicer, the surrounding blocks take notice and want to join in. We’ve become a national model for many other cities.”
Each year the contest begins at Making Brooklyn Bloom, the BBG’s kickoff event to open the spring gardening season. The purpose of the competition is to promote streetscape gardening, tree stewardship, and community development—and the trick is that you cannot enter as a single home. You must enter as a block association, civic group or neighborhood association so it really encourages community development and on many blocks you can see this progress.
“I wish you could have seen what this block looked like 2 hours ago,” says Gary Shuford, president of the Bainbridge Block Association in Bed-Stuy. “The whole crew was working hard. We have a rainbow of ages and ethnicities and it makes me feel so good. One of the biggest highlights for me is involving youth. It may not be a summer job, but it’s a constructive distraction and helps generate a sense of ownership for everyone.”