50th Anniversary

UPROSE celebrates half a century of existence

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.”

Environmental Justice Organization UPROSE Celebrates 50th Anniversary Tonight

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.”

Bill McKibben: Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Powerful Enough to Overwhelm Fossil Fuel Industry

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.