North Brooklyn Neighbors celebrates their 26th anniversary this week, but the pandemic poses a major challenge to the fundraising efforts, boardmembers say.
The grassroots nonprofit began in 1994 as a group of neighbors concerned about a waste transfer station operating illegally on the Northside’s East River waterfront. The group called themselves “Neighbors Against Garbage” and through a dedicated campaign – including video taping and marches – the waste transfer station was shut down and a portion of the waterfront became what is now Marsha P. Johnson State Park.
Since its early success, the group has gone through several transformations. Renamed “Neighbors Allied For Good Growth,” the group expanded their initiatives to include community waterfront access, affordable housing, and generally advocating for greener, cleaner North Brooklyn. In 2018, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth merged with another environmental advocacy group, Greenpoint Waterfront Alliance for Parks and Planning, and together they became North Brooklyn Neighbors (NBN).
NBN usually hosts an annual fundraising gala in the fall, but this year they decided to schedule the event in June. They were excited to have the event outdoors says Nicole De Feo, co-chair of NBN’s board of directors, and already had a space lined up and potential speakers in place. Of course, after the pandemic, the event was no longer a possibility. “A lot of small nonprofits are struggling, times are tough,” says De Feo.
Rather than a fundraising gala, Anthony Buissereth, Executive Director at NBN, had the idea to celebrate the organization's 26th birthday by asking people to donate $26. “There’s always advocacy that needs to be done,” says Buissereth.
In the future, NBN is planning a series of virtual events and looking to expand their air quality testing. “We’re always open to ideas,” says Buissereth, explaining that much of the organization’s work comes from community input. Wednesday, August 12th marks NBN's 26th anniversary.