Bed-Stuy beauty: neighborhood block named Brooklyn’s greenest

Bainbridge Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant was named the 2015 Greenest Block in Brooklyn on Tuesday, August 4 for its environmentally-friendly greenery displays, beating out almost 200 other borough blocks.

“This block really climbed,” said Scot Medbury, the president of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (BBG). “Maybe a quarter of it was green at first.”

GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program of BBG, made the announcement at a press conference at the block, Bainbridge Street between Stuyvesant Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard.

About 75 people from the block and around Brooklyn, along with various political officials and community groups, attended the celebration in one of the area’s historical districts.
“Gardening brings us together,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at the press conference. “You see the beauty of this borough.”

According to Nina Browne, the GreenBridge program manager, over the past two months about 20 judges evaluated the nearly 200 blocks that entered the 21st annual Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest for residential and commercial blocks and other categories.

The judges—along with community members across Brooklyn—assessed blocks in the residential category, the one Bainbridge Street won, for citizen participation in beautifying the block and planting trees and plants; plant variety and color; visual effects; creativity; and sustainable environmental practices, such as composting and properly using mulch.

Annette Robinson, the New York State assemblymember for most of Bed-Stuy, has lived on the block for the past few decades.

The block entered the contest in the past and placed second in the residential contest numerous times.

“It’s so great. We’ve been working so hard,” said Linda DeJesus, a resident on the block and the former president of the Bainbridge Home Owners and Tenants Block Association.
Community members made the block more lush and green by planting trees, watering plants, and making it more eco-friendly.

The man who was at the forefront of that enhancement was Philip Shuford, who was known to most people as Gary.

Shuford, a former president of the Bainbridge Home Owners and Tenants Block Association who died of pancreatic cancer in December, 2012, personally pulled out weeds, inspected the block to make sure it was clean, and provided his neighbors with moral support, according to residents.

“When Gary started paying attention to the block, there were crack vials on the street, we could hear gunshots,” Pat Shuford, Gary’s widow, said. “It’s been a small snowball down a hill [since then].”

But Shuford did not focus on cleaning up the block simply to win an award, Pat said; he also helped his neighbors with their personal problems.

“It wasn’t just block beautification,” she said. “It was also about making our block stronger.”

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