More than two dozen New York City Housing Authority residents and Resident Green Committee (RGC) leaders came together for the first annual Resident Green Committees Sustainability Conference on March 29, 2012 to share ideas on how to build RGCs, outreach to the community and secure financial resources for their RGCs.
|Resident Green Committee Leaders listen to presentation. (Photo by LETICIA BARBOZA)|
As part of its resident engagement strategy, NYCHA has been emphasizing environmental awareness in the developments by creating and mobilizing volunteer-based Resident Green Committees - groups of concerned NYCHA residents who are committed to fighting climate change and preserving public housing. For Mila Melnik, president of the RGC at Amsterdam Houses, learning techniques on how to approach people and get more people involved was particularly helpful for her year-old RGC. “It was excellent,” said Ms. Melnik of the Sustainability Conference. “I like that we met a lot of people who think alike, and received very useful information on how to do outreach and apply for grants.”
During the conference, residents participated in a series of workshops and a forum, where they learned about community organizing, strengthening membership in the RGCs, and the issues and successes other RGCs have realized. Most leaders found they have had similar experiences.
“Meeting everyone and learning what they have done and what they are doing [with their RGCs] was great,” said Cheryl Minor, president of the RGC at Frederick E. Samuels Houses. “It makes you realize that you are not by yourself. We all just need to come together and work toward a more sustainable future.”
That is precisely what this event was all about. An important part of NYCHA’s Green Agenda is to educate and empower its residents to lead greener lives in their homes, which is crucial to the success of NYCHA’s Green Agenda. The event was organized by the NYC Service Civic Corps members currently assigned to NYCHA, including Elena Tenchikova, Mercedes Ward and Derek Weng. On hand to provide volunteer assistance were eight Green City Force members, all of which are NYCHA residents between the ages of 18-24.
There are approximately 30 RGCs throughout the five boroughs. Since the initiative began in 2009, RGCs have organized clean up days, planted gardens and trees, and have raised awareness amongst their neighbors about recycling, energy conservation and reduced water usage.
“The Green Agenda is about what you and I can do to preserve public housing,” said NYCHA Board Member and Environmental Coordinator Margarita López. “We are counting on you to create a bigger, stronger green community in each development.”
By Zodet Negrón
April 2, 2012