Clean Up Crown Heights volunteers picking up trash. Photo: Andrea Pineda-Salgado
  1. Start a cleanup effort. The head of Clean Up Crown Heights, a community-based, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to this Brooklyn neighborhood’s upkeep, has some great ideas on applying what he’s learned to your own hood. “Doing something like picking up trash and litter, from an environmental perspective, has a positive impact on the world,” says founder Alex Bodnar. He suggests using social media to plan, announce specific location, date and time–and be consistent. Encourage volunteers to bring their own clean-up equipment, and try to keep engagement to under two hours. (A meal or drink afterward is also a good way to create a social atmosphere and true community.) In Queens, the Neighbors of the American Triangle, a group of volunteers in Corona, follow a similar approach and partner with the Sanitation Foundation for supplies.
  1. Hug a tree. New York City’s trees are vital; they help process rain and water runoff, prevent sewage from entering our water supply, clean the air and help regulate the temperature — apartments on a shady street will naturally be several degrees cooler during summer months. You can help take care of them by becoming a tree steward, maybe even ascending to Super Steward. Get started by attending one of the Parks Department’s events. You can also email with questions.
  1. Attend a community meeting on the future of Queens (sponsored). New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and his team will hold a “visioning session” on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 2 p.m. at Citi Field to receive feedback from members of the community. This is one of a series of meetings to discuss how to reimagine the 50 acres of vacant asphalt around the ballpark. Other forums to be scheduled. What is being discussed: access to the waterfront, public green space, live music and entertainment options. Make your voice heard and RSVP to
  1. Volunteer. Don’t know where to begin? Check out this list from Epicenter community reporter Andrea Pineda-Salgado. As you might know, dozens of volunteers power the work Epicenter-NYC does, namely helping New Yorkers navigate the latest in vaccine access and Covid updates. We also are big fans of Make the Road (co-founder Nitin Mukul rides his bike every Tuesday to deliver meals to seniors in Queens) and New York Cares
  1. Join a garden. Participate in activities that support neighborhood beautification and open space enhancements. There are gardens all over Brooklyn and Queens including the McIntosh Neighborhood Association Garden in East Elmhurst and the Malcolm X Garden in Corona.

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