For nearly 30 years, El Puente (translated in Spanish as “The Bridge”) has created programs, resources, and organizing campaigns based on the belief that personal development is never separate from community development, and vice versa. The El Puente Green Light District (GLD) is a ten-year initiative of the Williamsburg Southside Community to exercise its right to self-determination. Together, as a united community, it builds on the victories of the past to secure our future as a model American neighborhood for health, education, culture and the environment.
GLD takes El Puente’s “whole person/whole community” approach to the streets, going door-by-door and block-by-block to complete the transformation of the Southside neighborhood of Williamsburg (Los Sures) from a past as one of the most environmentally and economically challenged neighborhoods in New York City to a 2020 vision as a healthy, safe, culturally rich and civicly engaged community. This campaign comes at a time when residents are struggling desperately to remain in the community and are seeking new avenues to advocate for their rights. The following vision, by program areas, have been shaped by the involvement of Southside neighbors as members of the Green Light District Development Team, aided by advisors and experts from various fields.
- Arts & Culture: Addressing the race and class divide in our gentrifying community by creating equitable access to funding, infrastructure and community venues for artistic expression, institutional development, and cultural participation.
- Affordable Living: Expanding local control of how energy is produced and used in both new and old buildings, reducing carbon emissions, and creating green jobs.
- Health (Salud): Door-to-door assessments and actions plans promoting individual and community wellness, increasing access to healthy food and traditional ways of healing; exercise and reducing stress, household toxicity and outdoor air pollution.
- Education: Supporting academic and intellectual attainment as well as creative expression objectives for every GLD resident; creating GLD Projects for young adults in and out of school; and instituting a 13thYear (1st year of college) at El Puente.
- Greening Spaces: Reimagining the built environment and integrating streets, infrastructure, open spaces and the waterfront to create healthy, safe and vibrant public spaces.
El Puente has secured support for building the infrastructure for this initiative from U.S. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez, NYC Council Member Diana Reyna, Brooklyn Community Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s New York City Cultural Innovation Fund.