While Sunset Park owes its name to a 25-acre hilltop park with panoramic harbor views, the neighborhood's early history was anchored five avenues downhill, on its industrial waterfront. From the end of the nineteenth century, Sunset Park's ports served as a docking zone for arriving cargo ships, while nearby factories produced a range of goods from military supplies to clothing. The neighborhood remains working-class and immigrant, though the faces have changed: Once known as "Finn Town" and "Little Norway," Sunset Park is now majority Latino, with significant Puerto Rican, Dominican, Ecuadorian, and Mexican communities. The second largest ethnic group is Chinese, a 30,000-plus population concentrated along Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn's Chinatown.
Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE
At the onset of her professional career, Elizabeth saw that communities of color would be the most impacted by climate change, and so she felt compelled to commit her life’s work to environmental justice.
BIG GREEN THEATER (BGT) is an annual eco-playwriting program and green theater festival celebrating environmental education, sustainability in the arts, and community enrichment.
New York City has many long commutes and places that take too long to visit.
The NYC Department of Transportation is creating maps and data lists to organize the challenges of the city.
Environmental Justice Groups Show How to Organize in the Age of Trump
When things are bad for everyone, they are particularly bad for people of color. The Trump administration is about to legitimize injustice in all of our communities. People of color have endured the extraction of our land and labor – and its legacy – since the creation of these United States. Now, we are bracing ourselves for worse things to come.
Only now that the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar is baked as a proposal and backed by the mayor does the real estate front group Friends of the BQX invite public housing residents to speak on the project. This is meant to give cover to the very real displacement threats for communities along the project corridor.
It’s a streetcar named conspire.
The city claims the big-money developers who lavished cash on Mayor de Blasio’s campaign and nonprofit are not involved in the planning of the multibillion-dollar Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) trolley line.
Sunset Park residents unleashed a torrent of criticism against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $2.5 billion proposed streetcar at a community board meeting last night, reiterating their complaints that the developer-driven project would accelerate gentrification without providing any real benefit to the community.
SUNSET PARK, BROOKLYN — At a two-and-a-half hour Community Board 7 meeting in Sunset Park on Monday, local residents aligned with community activist organization UPROSE in visceral and unequivocal opposition to the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector(BQX), a 16-mile light rail train from Astoria to Sunset Park that they dubbed the "Gentrification Express."
We are writing to express our concern over your recent endorsement of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX. Founded in 1966 by Puerto Rican activists, UPROSE is a fifty-year-old community-based grassroots organization in Sunset Park committed to environmental and social justice. At the center of our work is the empowerment of community to advance their own agenda and drive local development in the interest of racial, social, and economic justice — oftentimes in contrast with the top-down interests of privilege and power. The proposed BQX flies in the face of this community-based model and instead puts luxury real estate development at the center of the agenda.
For decades, the industrial waterfront of Sunset Park, on the western edge of Brooklyn, was an urban flyover country of sorts, as commuters heading to Manhattan or Staten Island zipped past on the elevated Gowanus Expressway, catching glimpses of auto repair shops, huge warehouses and billboards.
The fundamental facts of environmental justice — that communities of color face disproportionately higher rates of pollution — have been known for decades. It’s been more than 20 years, for instance, since President Bill Clinton signed an executive order directing federal agencies to provide environmental protection for poor and minority communities. Yet in all that time, the government has routinely fallen short of its civil rights obligations, sometimes with deadly results.
By Jaime DeJesus
It was a special day for UPROSE as the nonprofit celebrated its 50th anniversary in style. Staffers, volunteers, neighbors, elected officials and supporters from other organizations attended the event at BRIC Arts Media, 647 Fulton Street on Friday, September 30.
“It was a success that went beyond our expectation,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Yeampierre. “People came from everywhere, such as Washington D.C., Vermont and Rhode Island. Everyone from all walks of life showed their love and support. The staff and volunteers were very excited.”
Approximately 300 people were in attendance at the event, which was hosted by Jeanine Ramirez of NY1 News with performances by Climbing PoeTree as well as Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde. Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senators Jesse Hamilton and Velmanette Montgomery, and a rep for Congressmember Nydia Velazquez were also in attendance to hand out certificates.
UPROSE, considered to be Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization, focuses on activism and community organizing in Sunset Park, as well as other parts of Brooklyn. It is currently an environmental and social justice organization.
“I think we’ve become recognized as a little organization that’s really impactful and has created a model that can be used in other places,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time and have received a lot of support.”
UPROSE also plays an integral part in the Climate Justice Alliance.
For Yeampierre and the organization, it was a celebration of the various highlights over the decades. “We worked on the Fourth Avenue medians and the dangers they brought,” she said. “Elders told us that they wanted it to be safer so we started the process of getting the mediums expanded and made safer. We are still working with DOT. A lot of what we do has been in direct response to community mandate,” she added.
According to UPROSE, the group also aided in stopping the siting of a fourth power plant in Sunset, as well as in bringing back the B37 bus after that line was cut by the MTA, and was instrumental in the opening of Bush Terminal Park as an added green space for the community.
Yeampierre joined UPROSE 20 yearsago, at a time when the organization was struggling and Sunset residents had many environmental concerns. “It had lost most of its funding when I came in and it almost ceased to exist,” she said. “I took it on as a labor on love with a low salary. And so to be here 20 years later, and to see how far we come with the community and with the folks of Sunset Park, is special. It doesn’t happen without the community. One person can’t do it alone. We need neighbors coming with recommendations on how things can be done better.”
Long-time environmental justice advocacy organization UPROSE will celebrate its 50th anniversary at a gala in Fort Greene this evening.
UPROSE, which is based in Sunset Park, on 22nd Street, describes itself as an “intergenerational, multi-racial, nationally-recognized community organization that promotes sustainability and resiliency…in Brooklyn.”
UPROSE says that it tackles these objectives through a variety of means — community organizing, education, leadership development and cultural/artistic expression.
The group has worked on a multitude of local and regional environmental justice and sustainability issues in its long history — including fighting to protect the Sunset Park waterfront’s industrial character, helping to plan the Bush Terminal Piers Park, facilitating the design of a community “Greenway-Blueway” for Sunset Park, and advocating for climate resiliency planning across New York City that is focused on the needs of local communities.
After Superstorm Sandy, UPROSE launched the Sunset Park Climate Justice and Community Resiliency Center, which they describe as NYC’s “first grassroots-led, bottom-up, climate adaptation and community resiliency planning project.”
AMY GOODMAN: So, that was the scene. Describe what is actually taking place here and what is at stake, why the Dakota Access pipeline would want to hurt these protesters.
BILL McKIBBEN: So, first thing to understand that what’s taking place there is the—everybody else acknowledging what some of us have known for a long time, which is that frontline communities, and particularly indigenous people, have been in the forefront of this climate fight. They were in the Keystone fight, and now clearly in the Dakotas. They’re holding the line against something that threatens not only their reservation, but threatens the whole planet. We do not—we cannot pump more oil. We’ve got to stop opening up new reserves.
Their work there is astonishing. Against all odds, they’ve been able, at least for the moment, to bring a temporary halt to some of that construction, giving, one hopes, cooler heads a chance to look at the available data and common sense to prevail. Earlier this year, the president said that any new project should have to pass a climate test. There is an even stiffer version of that in the next Democratic platform. This pipeline couldn’t pass those climate tests. It should be stopped. Thank heaven for the bravery of those people and, really, for the environmental justice movement that’s sprung up all around the country. Not even have sprung up—you know, today we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of UPROSE, the—really, one of the original, seminal environmental justice outfits here in New York. That’s where the leadership is coming from, and it’s really powerful to see.
SUNSET PARK, BROOKLYN — A new study by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace are home to rapid job and population growth — but some local officials and activists say too little is known about what kinds of jobs are being created in the area, and who is benefiting.
A diverse coalition of organizations, including environmental groups, offshore wind power developers, environmental justice and community advocates, academics, and consultants, with a shared interest in promoting the development of sustainable offshore wind power for New York have joined together to create the New York Offshore Wind Alliance (NYOWA).
Sunset Park activist group UPROSE wants the communities most impacted by climate change to lead the charge against it.