PB District 39 Project Expo: Self-Defense Workshops For Muslim Women, Fitness Area For Seniors, Saving Endangered Bats & More


Voting for Participatory Budgeting began Saturday, April 7 and runs though Sunday, April 15. If you haven’t voted yet—what are you waiting for?!

“This year’s projects are fantastic. Did you look at them? They’re just great,” said Council Member Brad Lander Monday night at the PBNYC Project Expo for District 39 (Borough Park, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Kensington, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace).

The District 39 Partcipatory Budgeting Project Expo held at the Park Slope Library (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

Held at the Park Slope Library (431 6th Avenue at 9th Street), the event gave locals the opportunity to meet their neighbors who helped develop the 18 project proposals on the ballot, ask them questions, and, of course, vote.

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“The Capital Projects are super and I think there are a lot of great Capital Projects…but the Expense Projects—there’s just unlimited creativity,” Lander continued. “The idea of having a garden tool share for the gardens in our schools or a Muslim women and allies self-defense workshop—these are just such creative and interesting projects.”

Residents aged 11 and up are eligible to vote, either online or at locations throughout your district.

“I really believe if people look at the projects they’ll want to vote for them,” Lander said. “And know that it was your neighbors who dreamed them up and are working hard to make them happen…. We get to decide together which ones we support. Local democracy doesn’t get better than that.”

Check out the list below of the 18 project proposals on the 2018 District 39 ballot along with photos of some of the the presentations at last night’s Project Expo and descriptions of the projects.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites!

If you weren’t able to cast your ballot last night, you can vote online, at a LinkNYC kiosk, or at Brad Lander’s district office all week (Monday, April 9 through Friday, April 13) at 456 5th Avenue, 3rd floor (between 9th & 10th Streets) from 9:30am to 5pm.

On Saturday, April 14 from 10am to 4pm you can vote at: The Old Stone House in Washington Park (Fifth Avenue & Third Street) or the Windsor Terrace Library (160 E 5th St).

On Sunday, April 15 from 10am to 4pm you can vote at: Carroll Park House (at Carroll Park) or at the Park Slope Armory YMCA at 361 15th Street.

District 39 Ballot

Capital Projects 
(vote for 5—the winning projects will receive up to $1.5 million in funding)

Arts, Culture, & Community:

Outdoor Community Space for Borough Park Library
Budget: $400,000
Location: Borough Park Library, 1265 43rd Street, Borough Park
Description: Activate Borough Park Library’s exterior areas with a plaza renovation and garden space.


Kyla Blocker, a drama teacher at PS 282 presents a project to upgrade dilapidated sinks in four kindergarten classrooms

Replace Derelict Kindergarten Sinks at PS 282
Budget: $200,000
Location: PS 282, 180 6th Avenue, Park Slope

Description: Replace rusty sinks and splintered cabinets that pose a health/safety hazard to 5-year-olds and after-school communities.

“The goal is to have the rusting, falling-apart, dilapidated sinks replaced in the kindergarten classrooms,” Kyla Blocker, a drama teacher at PS 282, said of this project.

“These sinks were put in 1962 and they’ve never been replaced,” she added. “They’ve been like this for a long time…. We are really hoping to improve the safety and health conditions for our students. It’s a basic, fundamental thing.”

Kevin Conway, Principal of Millennial Brooklyn High School, representing the John Jay campus

Renovate John Jay Library into Communal Space
Budget: $250,000
Location: John Jay Campus, 237 7th Avenue, Park Slope

Description: Transform old library into a community meeting and classroom space by installing five large screen monitors and a sound system.

“We have a decrepit library and we are trying to renovate it into a media center with digital monitors, speakers, and new furniture,” Kevin Conway, the Principal of Millennial Brooklyn High School, told BKLYNER.

His is one of four schools on the John Jay campus, that combined include 2,000-plus students and 300-plus faculty members, he explained, all who are lacking “access to a great library space, so it would have a big impact on a lot of people…. We just need a little bit to go a long way,” he added.

Carolyn Harvey, Technology Teacher and Nancy Costa, Instructional Technology Coordinator, representing PS 131

Get Smarter with SMART Boards at PS 131
Budget: $200,000
Location: 4305 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Borough Park

Description: Smart Boards will bring interactive lessons to 24 classrooms in high needs schools helping to meet diverse learning needs.

“A SMART Board is an interactive white board where teachers can present different content or curriculum and students can come up and actually touch and manipulate the board to share their learning,” Carolyn Harvey, a Tech Teacher at PS 131 explained.

“SMART Boards, SMART flat panels, anything that allows our students visual access to the curriculum is a step towards helping our students become 21stcentury learners,” she said.

Make PS 118 Schoolyard Accessible and Safe
Budget: $200,000
Location: PS 118, 211 8th Street, Gowanus

Description: Replace a broken gate to enable growing school to utilize playground as its only communal, ADA-accessible space.

Parks and Environment:

Harmony Playground Improvements
Budget: $450,000
Location: Harmony Playground, Prospect Park at 10th Street, Park Slope

Description: Install shade structure over sandbox and replace non-working playground structures with viable equipment.

L-R: Members of Good Neighbors of Park Slope Lynne Ornstein, Suzanne Jasper, and Joyce Jed with Yosef Ibrahim

Senior Fitness Playground
Budget: $400,000
Location: Prospect Park near 9th Street entrance, Park 
 Install playground-style exercise equipment for senior citizens and the less able-bodied.

“This project is to bring a senior fitness area—it’s called a ‘playground’ but that makes it sound almost silly—where seniors will be able to come to exercise,” Lynne Ornstein explained.

“If you go to a playground, you see little kids playing, or you go and see some exercise equipment and these big strapping guys are there doing their routine. There’s no place for us,” Joyce Jed added. “This equipment is based on what we can do to improve our fitness. It also has a social aspect. If this is an area where you know where other older people are going to, you feel more comfortable, and you make friends,” she said.

Resurface the Soccer Field in Albermarle Playground
Budget: $500,000
Location: 12th Avenue and Dahill Road, Kensington

Description: Replace damaged, hazardous turf in this widely used soccer field, shared by students at PS 230 and the Kensington community.

Expense Projects 
(vote for 3—the winning projects will receive up to $50,000 in funding)

Arts, Culture, & Community Facilities:

Isaac Rauch, Participatory Budget Delegate and Dara Kagan presenting for the CAMBA Park Slope Women’s Shelter

Media Lab at Park Slope Women’s Shelter
Budget: $14,000
Location: Park Slope Women’s Shelter,1402 8th Avenue, Park Slope

Description: Outfitting the 100-bed women’s shelter at the Park Slope Armory with new computing and photography equipment.

The computer lab at the CAMBA Park Slope Women’s shelter is in need of upgrades, said Isaac Rauch, the Participatory Budget Delegate representing this project. They are hoping to provide “new technology, computers, cameras, a projector screen,” as well as new furniture to the residents of the 100-bed shelter. The media lab is currently equipped with three ten-year-old desktop computers which they plan to replace with eight new MacBooks.

“It’s technology that they’ll use every day,” Rauch said. “I think one of the tough things about living in a shelter is sort of feeling cut off, and this is a great way for them to keep in touch, feel empowered, work on resumes, and stay abreast of what’s going on in the world.”

Shahrin Azim, New York Regional Director for Malikah and Shahana Hanif, Participatory Budget Delegate representing the Women’s Self-Defense project

Women’s Self-Defense for the Resistance
Location: Kensington

Description: A series of workshops for immigrants, Muslim women, and their allies  focused on self-defense techniques.

“We are trying to establish a women’s center in Kensington,” Shahrin Azim, the New York Regional Director for Malikah explained. This project looks to serve Bangladeshi and Muslim women living in Kensington. “We are trying to bring self-defense workshops to a women’s center so they can learn to physically empower themselves. The workshops will also incorporate a healing and justice curriculum along with financial literacy programming so women can also be spiritually empowered and financially empowered.”

“The other piece to this is recognizing that the district does not work in an equitable model,” added Shahana Hanif, the Participatory Budget Delegate for this project. “In Kensington, where the dense population is Bangladeshi and Muslim, we don’t have resources that adequately tap into our needs, and by ‘our needs’ I’m talking about Bangladeshi and Muslim women’s needs…. We don’t have a community center. We don’t have spaces for women to freely go into that they can claim as their own that is not their home, as sometimes homes are dangerous too.”

“We just want a space for young women, older women, ally women, to be able to continue to go together in resistance,” Hanif said.


iPads to Support PS 77 Students with Autism
Budget: $6,909
Location: PS 77, 62 Park Place, Park Slope

Description: iPads will help students with autisms build language and communication skills, and support social/emotional learning.

Kara Wache presenting PS 133’s Garden of Wonder project

PS 133 Garden Irrigation and Winterizing System
Budget: $5,533
Location: PS 133, 610 Baltic Street, Gowanus

Description: Installation of irrigation and winterizing systems to enable water conservation and year-round gardening.

This school and community garden would involve “students, teachers, and staff at PS 133” as well as “the community around it,” Kara Wache, the parent of a second-grader at the school told BKLYNER. They would grow native plants and compost in an effort to create less food waste, she says.

“There are so many lessons to be learned through gardening, science, environmental science, community, and persistence,” Wache says of the benefits of the project.

L-R: Cindy Day, Shari Zisman, and Michele Greenberg presenting the School Diversity Outreach Plan

Outreach Plan for Elementary School Diversity
Budget: $15,000
Location:  PS 372, PS 146, and PS 133

Description: Hire coordinator to assist three non-zoned elementary schools with an outreach plan to achieve diversity-in-admissions goals.

“We are trying to be a model of what can happen if the DOE supports schools that are part of the Diversity in Admission Program, said Michel Greenberg, the parent of a fifth-grader at The Children’s School. “The idea is schools get to set aside a certain percentage of kindergarten seats for families that qualify for free and reduced-price lunch or are English-language learners.”

“A third of our seats are set aside to try to bring in more diversity to our school,” adds Shari Zisman, an ENL (English as a New Language) teacher at The Children’s School. “The DOE has a program where there are three schools (PS 133, Brooklyn New School, and The Children’s School) that are part of this pilot where you set aside seats…but we’ve gotten no money or support…. How do we bring outreach?”

“We want to hire an actual person to do the outreach, to help us set up the outreach plans, and help us bring in people,” Zisman said. “We’re trying to bring in a more diverse population—it can’t just be parents running around trying to get people to come to this school. We need people with a targeted position helping us.”

Parks and Environment:

Eco-Film Series and Hands-On Upcycling Events
Budget: $10,500
Location: 5 locations in District 39

Description: Series of five films to educate about the impacts of plastics on the environment with workshops about repurposing plastic.

David Seideman, Participatory Budget Delegate presenting the Save Our Bats! project

Study of Endangered Bats in Prospect Park
Budget: $7,600
Location: Prospect Park

Description: Conduct scientific study about endangered bats in Prospect Park, which are critical pollinators and pest-eaters.

“The project is to do the first scientific study of endangered bats in Prospect Park which are pest-eaters and pollinators,” said David Seideman, the Participatory Budget Delegate for this project.

“They eat 8,000 mosquitoes a night. They also pollinate,” he says of the benefits of bats. “They’re estimated to bring $7 billion in value to farmers every year across the country from their pollinating and pest-eating. It’s like natural pesticide.”

“Bats are in very serious trouble.” he notes. “Seven million have died in the last ten years due to an illness called White-Nose Syndrome. They’re in very serious trouble so anything we can do to help save them is not only beneficial to them, but to people in general.”

Justine Allen and Kara Allen presenting the Solar Panels for South Brooklyn Children’s Garden project

Solar Panels for South Brooklyn Children’s Garden
Budget: $10,620
Location: SBCG, Columbia Street and Sacket Street

Description: Install a solar panel system to bring electricity to the South Brooklyn Children’s Garden which currently has no supply.

“Our project is bringing electricity to a community garden which currently has no source of electricity, and we’re providing that electricity through renewable energy,” explained Kara Allen, the Participatory Budget Delegate for the project who also works for the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority.

“To see a community saying ‘We want renewable energy,’ ‘We want to go solar’—on a personal and professional level, it’s very meaningful to me,” she added.

Jilly Traganou, Participatory Budget Delegate and Natasia Sidarta of Gowanus Canal Conservancy presenting the Gowanus Earth Day project

Celebrate Earth Day with Gowanus Community
Budget: $12,000
Location: DSNY Salt Lot, 2 2nd Avenue

Description: Fund Gowanus Canal Conservancy to host a community Earth Day 2019 event focused on native plants, compost, and green practices.

This project would “fund a one-day event that’s open to the public and would involve native plant workshops, street tree care, Gowanus Canal walking tours, and an overall carnival event,” Natasia Sidarta of the Gowanus Canal Conservacy said.

“The Gowanus Canal is a very polluted, almost abandoned site, but there’s been a lot of community support in terms of supporting the Superfund Project itself and also cleaning the canal in terms of improving the water quality and improving the greenspaces surrounding it,” she continued. “This Earth Day event would benefit a lot of community members, allow them to support the canal and become active stewards to take an active role in shaping the future of it.”

Tool Sharing Consortium for District 15 Schools
Budget: $3,500
Location: Old Stone House, 336 3rd Street

Description: Old Stone House will purchase and store assorted tools for workshops and gardening activities at district schools.

Check out other Participatory Budgeting projects by district using this map.

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