And they're off! (That is, the cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

The cherries are blooming at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), just in time for the start of Hanami this weekend. In addition to those already blooming on Washington Avenue and the parking lot, there are four blooming within the main collection covered by the BBG CherryWatch Blossom Status Map:


Related Content

My Flickr photo set from this afternoon's visit

More Hanami at BBG, 2008-04-25
Hanami at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2008-04-04
Introducing the BBG Hanami Flickr Group, 2009-04-03
Events and Resources: Hanami and more at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2007-04-03


Cherries, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Hanami: Cherry Blossom Viewing at Brooklyn Botanic Garden , Flickr photo pool

Reminder: April 2 CB14 Public Hearing on Flatbush Rezoning Proposal

39 E. 16th St, Caton Park, Flatbush, Brooklyn
39 E. 16th St, Caton Park, Flatbush, Brooklyn

This is a reminder that Brooklyn's Community Board 14 (CB14) is holding a Public Hearing on the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal this Thursday, April 2, at 7pm at P.S. 249. [GMAP] This is the first public review of the proposal since NYC's Department of City Planning (DCP) certified the proposal on March 2.

This will be the first of the four public reviews which the proposal must undergo before it becomes law. The ULURP "clock" requires that CB14 complete their review and submit their decision by May 11, though they're likely to finish within two weeks. The CB14 Executive Committee meets next Monday, and the regular CB14 monthly meeting is the Monday after that, April 13.

Approval by CB14 and the Borough President are widely seen as a fait accompli. We anticipate opposition from developers - whose community interests usually take the form of build, take the money, and run - for the DCP and City Council hearings. We also anticipate that they will be greatly outnumbered by community members supporting the proposal.


Related Content

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal available on DCP's Web site, 2009-03-18
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal CB14 Public Hearing April 2, 2009-03-16
DCP-CB14 briefing on Inclusionary Housing provisions, 2009-03-10
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal certified, enters public review process, 2009-03-02
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal scheduled for certification, 2009-02-28
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008-10-07
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, 2008-06-13


Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Certified; Public Hearing Scheduled for April 2nd, 2009-03-16, Community Board 14 (CB14)
Inclusionary Housing Program, DCP
ULURP: Uniform Land Use Review Procedure


Guskind Memorial 4/4: Reminder, and Charitable Donations

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

This is a reminder that the Memorial Gathering for Robert "Bob" Guskind will be held this Saturday, April 4, from 2pm to 5pm at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 4th Avenue, between President and Union Streets, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. RSVP via Evite.

In lieu of flowers, Bob's family and friends invite donations in his memory to four organizations which "were very close to his heart."


Related Content

Memorial for Robert "Bob" Guskind, April 4, 2009-03-20
Remembering Bob, 2009-03-14
Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009, 2009-03-05


Donations in Memory of Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge, 2009-03-27
Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering: Saturday, April 4, Gowanus Lounge, 2009-03-20
Brooklyn Lyceum


Bats, Bat Houses, and White-Nose Syndrome 2009

Mosquito control is a perennial topic on the Flatbush Family Network, one of the numerous email discussion groups which cover the different neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Bat houses invariably come up as a way of attracting a natural predator to keep mosquito populations in check. Here I'm reprising and updating my posts on these and related topics from last year.

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS)

Last Spring I wrote about White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). A breakthrough that occurred just in the past few months is that the "White-Nose" has been identified as a group of previously unknown species of Geomyces fungus. It's still unknown whether it's a symptom - such as an opportunistic infection - or a cause or contributor.

Bats exhibiting white-nose syndrome in Hailes Cave, Albany County, NY, one of the first caves in which WNS was observed. Photo: Nancy Heaslip, NYS DEC.

Bob Hoke of the District of Columbia Grotto (DCG) of the National Speleological Society (NSS) maintains an excellent chronology of WNS news and understanding. WNS has already killed hundreds of thousands of bats across the northeast over the past four winters. Mortality has been as high as 90% in some caves. It's estimated that 75% of northeastern bats have died in just four years. Unfortunately, it continues to spread; for the first time, it's also been found or suspected in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Map of occurrence of White Nose Syndrome by county as of March 4, 2009. WNS was later confirmed in Virginia. Credit: courtesy of Cal Butchkoski, Pennsylvania Game Commission
Counties with White Nose Syndrome

Because of the high mortality, rapid spread, and still-unknown causes of the disease, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS) has issued a cave advisory to suspend all caving activities in affected states, and take precautions in states where WNS has not yet been detected:
The evidence collected to date indicates that human activity in caves and mines may be assisting the spread of WNS. Therefore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending actions to reduce the risks of further spread of WNS:
  1. A voluntary moratorium on caving in states with confirmed WNS and all adjoining states;
  2. Nationally, in states not WNS-affected or adjoining states, use clothing and gear that has never been in caves in WNS-affected or adjoining states;
  3. State and federal conservation agencies should evaluate scientific activities for their potential to spread WNS; and
  4. Nationally, researchers should use clothing and gear that has never been in caves in a WNS-affected or adjoining state.
This also applies to mines used by cavers.

These recommendations will remain in effect until the mechanisms behind transmission of WNS are understood, and/or the means to mitigate the risk of human-assisted transport are developed.
There was a big thing that came out in the environmental reports last year that chemical mosquito killers are quite bad for the environment and killed more than just mosquitoes. They might even be part of the reason why there is a bacteria/virus killing off northeastern bats. Although, scientists haven't found anything conclusive it seems.
- via Flatbush Family Network
WNS research is ongoing, but it's still not known what the cause is. A plausible explanation is immunodeficiency caused by environmental contamination, such as insecticides sprayed for West Nile Virus, but again, that's just one of several hypotheses being explored by researchers. A pathogen such as a virus, bacteria or fungus is likely due to the patterns by which it's spreading.

Bat Houses

Bat houses seem like a great idea. At night, bats eat about 1,000 pesky insects an hour. I don't know how one attracts bats to your bat house but I've seen them in the evening in Prospect Park, amazing little creatures that they are.
- via Flatbush Family Network
I wrote about bat houses last year. Bats have specific requirements for roosting sites. Most of the houses I've seen commercially available are too small or lacking in other requirements. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) article, "Why I Built a Bat House," contains detailed instructions for building a house that meets current knowledge about bats roosting needs.

The bat house I purchased last year from Bat Conservation International before I installed it on the side of the second floor porch - my "tree fort" - at the back of my house.
Bat House

Note that this is the time of year when bats are looking for their "summer homes." I put mine up mid-April last year, which was a little late. I'm hoping they find it and set up house this year!

General information about bats

Is there ANY danger to my 4 year old son? Do bats poop/pee/spit anything bad for him? Do they really only come out at night?
- via Flatbush Family Network
Bats really do only come out at night. You're most likely to see them at dusk, when they leave their roosts, and dawn, when they return. At the end of last summer, I saw a few on my block flying amidst the gaps between the canopies of the street trees. They seemed to be feasting on the insects attracted to the street lights.

Many people are concerned about rabies. While sensible caution is warranted, the risk is extremely low. In New York City, you're more likely to contract West Nile Virus (WNV), which bats help combat by eating mosquitoes which carry the virus. If you see any normally nocturnal animal - such as a bat, raccoon or opossum - out in the open during the day, keep children and pets away from it and notify animal control by calling 311.


Related Content

Rabies in NYC: Facts and Figures, 2008-07-08
Bat Houses, 2008-04-13
Northeastern Bats in Peril, 2008-03-18
Other posts about bats


Bats of New York, Eileen Stegemann and Al Hicks, Conservationist, February 2008, NYSDEC
Bat Conservation International (BCI)
Bat Houses
Why I Built a Bat House, Carla Brown, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) (H/T Sara S. via Flatbush Family Network)
Bats Wanted, Al Hicks and Eileen Stegemann, Conservationist, February 2008, NYSDEC
The importance of bat houses, Organization for Bat Conservation
The Bat House Forum
White-Nose Syndrome
An excellent chronology of WNS is maintained by Bob Hoke of the District of Columbia Grotto (DCG) of the National Speleological Society (NSS).

White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed in VA Bats, WHSV, Richmond, VA, 2009-04-02
Cave activity discouraged to help protect bats from deadly white-nose syndrome, Press Release, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2009-03-26
Fungus Kills About 90 Percent Of Connecticut's Bats, Rinker Buck, Hartford Courant, 2009-03-18 (H/T NewYorkology via Twitter)
Newly Identified Fungus Implicated in White-Nose Syndrome in Bats, Press Release, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 2008-10-31
Bats dying off across western Maine, Maine Sun Journal, 2008-07-19 (H/T Center for Biological Diversity)
Dying Bats in the Northeast Remain a Mystery, USGS Newsroom, 2008-05-09
First It Was Bees, Now It's Bats That Are Dying, Natural News, 2008-04-11
Bats in the Region Are Dying From a Mysterious Ailment, Litchfield County Times, 2008-04-03
Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why, New York Times Science Section, 2008-03-25
Bat Die-Off Prompts Investigation, Environment DEC, March 2008, NYSDEC

White-nose Syndrome Threatens New York's Bats, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)
White-Nose Syndrome, Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC)
White-Nose Syndrome in bats: Something is killing our bats, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Northeast Region

Mystery Disease Kills U.S. Bats, Bat Conservation International
Bat Crisis: The White-Nose Syndrome, Center for Biological Diversity

White Nose Syndrome Page, Liaison on White Nose Syndrome, National Speleological Society (NSS)

Something is killing our bats: The white-nose syndrome mystery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wikipedia: White-nose syndrome


March of the Magnolias

Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia
Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia

The flower above is one of thousands that are now opening in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Magnolia Plaza. With warmer temperatures expected today and the next few days, this weekend and next week will be a spectacular time to visit. Even the flowers still in bud can't wait to join the stage.

Bud, Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia

In a comment on my Facebook status update for this post, Dr. Susan Pell notes:
Actually, the Magnolia zenii blooms first at BBG [not M. stellata, as I had written], but it's in the back corner of the Discovery Garden so most people over 3' tall miss it.
Most of the Magnolias will follow M. stellata, Star Magnolia, in quick succession. Sometimes the bloom on a tree lasts only a week, depending on the weather. You should visit in person at least once over the next three weeks. But this year, for the first time even distant visitors will have a chance to witness the parade of bloom, thanks to one of Dave Allen's time-lapse videos, now in the process off being captured.

Magnolia Timelapse Camera


Related Content

A weekend at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Part 2: Magnolia Plaza, 2008-04-07
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, April 14, 2007


Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza, Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Memorial for Robert "Bob" Guskind, April 4

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

A Memorial Gathering for Robert "Bob" Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, has been scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, April 4:
A memorial gathering to honor the memory of Robert Guskind will be held from 2 pm to 5 pm Saturday, April 4 at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 4th Avenue between Union and President Streets in Park Slope.

Please RSVP if you can. (There is an opportunity to sign up to speak.)
There will be an opportunity to donate to charities in Bob’s name.

Thanks to Eric Richmond of the Brooklyn Lyceum for generously donating the space.
- Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering: Saturday, April 4, Gowanus Lounge
Space is limited, so RSVP.

Related Content

Remembering Bob, 2009-03-14
Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009, 2009-03-05


Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering: Saturday, April 4, Gowanus Lounge
Brooklyn Lyceum

Happy Spring

Despite this morning's snow flurries, the March equinox (vernal in the northern hemisphere, autumnal in the southern hemisphere) occurred this morning at 7:44 AM Eastern Time (UTC-04:00, since it's now Eastern Daylight Time). By convention, this marks the "official" start of Spring, though we've been tracking signs of Spring closely for a few weeks now.

The Return of Persephone (1891), by Frederic Leighton (1830–1896). Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to return to her mother Demeter after Zeus forced Hades to return Persephone.
The Return of Persephone (1891), by Frederic Leighton (1830–1896)

For the third year, I'm using the image above to illustrate this post. I like the story of Demeter and Persephone. Winter doesn't occur because Hades is evil/dark/etc. Persephone was not the keeper of the earth. The earth didn't miss her, Demeter did. Demeter grieved for her loss, and neglected her gardening duties, and that's why Winter occurs. Demeter rejoices at the return of Persephone, which restores her interest in the world, and that's when we get Spring.

Illumination of the Earth by the Sun on the day of an equinox
Illumination of the Earth by the Sun on the day of an equinox


Related Posts

Persephone Rises, 2008
Happy Vernal Equinox, 2007




Flatbush Rezoning Proposal available on DCP's Web site

The recently-certified Flatbush Rezoning Proposal is now available on the Department of City Planning's (DCP) Web site.

Public Review Timetable

Department of City Planning CertificationMarch 2, 2009 (Completed)
Community Board 14 Review60 days. Must be completed by May 11, 2009.

Brooklyn Borough President Review

30 Days

City Planning Commission Review

60 Days

City Council Review

50 Days

I'm planning to attend tomorrow evening's briefing on inclusionary housing. I'm not familiar with it and want to learn more, particularly with regard to the provisions on the rezoning proposal.

Related Content

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal CB14 Public Hearing April 2, 2009-03-16
DCP-CB14 briefing on Inclusionary Housing provisions, 2009-03-10
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal certified, enters public review process, 2009-03-02
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal scheduled for certification, 2009-02-28
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008-10-07
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, 2008-06-13


Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Certified; Public Hearing Scheduled for April 2nd, CB14, 2009-03-16
Flatbush Rezoning, DCP

First Cherry in bloom at BBG

I saw my first cherry in bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden yesterday while on my way to History of Gardens and Landscape Design class. It's outside the main cherry collection of the Cherry Blossom Status Map. It's located on the Washington Avenue side of the landmarked Laboratory and Administration building, across the street from Crown Street. [GMAP]

Cherry (left) and Apricot (right) in bloom at BBG

There's also a flowering apricot (Prunus mume) in bloom at the same location. The cherry is the tree on the left, the apricot is on the right.



Brooklyn's corridor of diversity

Today's New York Daily News highlights the diversity of Brooklyn's southern reaches, especially along the fabled B/Q subway line:
Immigration experts said the rich mosaic of cultures now found in southern Brooklyn rivals the well-known ethnic diversity found in Queens along the 7 Train — dubbed the “International Express.”

Brooklyn now has its own “Immigrant Express” — the Q/B Train — cutting through Flatbush to Brighton Beach and home to growing numbers of foreign born residents from Guyana, El Salvador, Poland, Armenia and Turkey.

“This corridor is as diverse as the corridor we see on the 7 Train,” said City Planning Department immigration czar, Joseph Salvo. “The bottom of Ocean Parkway has become a real United Nations.”
- Boro turning into a world, Jeff Wilkins and Elizabeth Hays, New York Daily News
Q Train Beverly Road subway platform
Beverly Road Subway Platform

In 1970, Census Tract 520 in Ditmas Park [sic] was 92.1% white. Less than a quarter of the population was foreign-born, and most of them were Italian and Jewish. Today, the neighborhood is a miniature United Nations, with nearly two-thirds of the population coming from other countries.

Although Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have a larger percentage of foreign-born residents, the city's demographer, Joseph Salvo, said it's the convergence of racial and ethnic diversity that distinguishes Ditmas Park.
- In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, New York Sun, May 26, 2005
Census Tract 520 comprises the eastern half of Ditmas Park West, my neighborhood neighbor to the south, plus the blocks between Newkirk and Foster Avenues.


Related Content

More love for the Q train, 2008-09-09
Flatbush by rail with Francis Morrone, 2008-07-10
DCP's Census Fact Finder, 2007-12-13


Boro turning into a world, Jeff Wilkins and Elizabeth Hays, New York Daily News, 2009-03-17
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, New York Sun, 2005-05-26


Flatbush Rezoning Proposal CB14 Public Hearing April 2

Brooklyn's Community Board 14 (CB14) has scheduled the first public hearing for the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal for Thursday, April 2, at 7pm at P.S. 249 on Caton Avenue between Marlborough and Rugby Roads [GMAP].

The Caton Avenue facade of P.S. 249, where the main entrance is located.
P.S. 249

The announcement on CB14's blog also provides links to view or download all sections of the proposal in PDF format. This is the first time this material has been available online. DCP made the proposal available on their Web site on March 18.

Related Content

DCP-CB14 briefing on Inclusionary Housing provisions, 2009-03-10
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal certified, enters public review process, 2009-03-02
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal scheduled for certification, 2009-02-28
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008-10-07
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, 2008-06-13


Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Certified; Public Hearing Scheduled for April 2nd, 2009-03-16, Community Board 14 (CB14)


Remembering Bob

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

Thursday night I attended the Flatbush Development Corporation's (FDC) 34th Anniversary Benefit Dinner. In my remarks, as one of the honorees, I spoke of the connections and communities that had brought me there that night: my partner, my neighborhood, Flatbush at large, and the Brooklyn blogosphere. I also told the 200+ people assembled there that Brooklyn bloggers had lost one of our own last week: Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, a friend and supporter of this blog and of Flatbush preservation efforts.

I only met Bob in person a few times. We launched our blogs within one month of each other in 2006: Gowanus Lounge in April, Flatbush Gardener in May. Gowanus Lounge quickly became Bob's bully pulpit from which he could speak, as friend and neighbor Brenda Becker phrased so well, as "Fool-Killer and Weasel-Slayer." I don't remember when I first discovered Gowanus Lounge, but the first links from there to this blog appeared in November of that year.

Bob liked - or at least thought least unflattering! - this picture I took of him at the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Blogfest in 2007.
Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge

When the Second Brooklyn Blogfest came around in May 2007, we knew each other well from our online endeavors. We didn't get to meet at that time; it was too crowded, and too hectic. Bob, a speaker at the event, was an A-List blogger of the Brooklyn blogosphere, swarmed with fans, colleagues, and reporters.

Dave Kenny, another friend and blogging colleague, and I co-founded the Brooklyn Blogade as a way to continue the energy and relationship-building from the Blogfest, and expand into neighborhoods that were "underserved" by the Brooklyn blogosphere. Dave credits a discussion with Bob after the 2007 Blogfest as inspiring him to start the Blogades. With Anne Pope of Sustainable Flatbush, I co-hosted the first Blogade here in Flatbush in June 2007, and that's where Bob and I finally got to meet in person. The New York Times covered that first Blogade; a photograph from the event opens their article in this weekend's The City section on the future of Gowanus Lounge, the first time any of those photos have appeared.

I met Bob again on only two occasions after that. Most of our communication was online, through email, tips, and mutual links. I don't know how many scores of times Bob linked to this blog. I was especially touched by his last link at the end of January, in which he referred to me as "a friend and fellow blogger." As I write this, I still can't believe he's gone. We were the same age, and I wish there had been more opportunities and time for us to strengthen that friendship.

As many others have reported in their remembrances of him, Bob was generous in linking. He brought attention to many neighborhood issues that, I believe, without his support would have been overlooked not only by the general press, but other bloggers as well. He nurtured community in the Brooklyn blogosphere. When I reached out to him by email during lasts fall's hiatus on Gowanus Lounge, he said that he had received "hundreds of emails and comments." In response to his death, nearly 80 people have written their own condolences and memorial posts to Bob. There are many hundreds more comments across all those posts. That stands as a testament to the impact he has had, and will continue to have after his death.

He was generous and passionate, sensitive and courageous, humorous and outspoken, gregarious and private. I have learned only since his death that we shared a journey in recovery, different in the details, similar in struggle and spirit. I did not know Bob well enough or long enough to know the circumstances of his life or death. Whatever the circumstances, I have nothing but empathy for the man; they cannot diminish my opinion of him. Real people are complex, their circumstances, usually complicated. It's cost me a lot to learn that.

This was Bob's favorite of my photos. I know this, not only because the subject shows Coney Island - among Bob's greatest passions - in its glory, but because he chose this from the Flickr-Moo mini-cards I handed out at 2007's Blogfest and the first Brooklyn Blogade. If there is a heaven, may this be part of Bob's.
Sunset Over Coney Island, April 2006


Meta: Feed Glitch

Update 2009-03-11: Problem resolved. This morning, Feedburner subscriber count is back to the levels of a few days ago,
Update: The problem is largely isolated to Google Reader subscribers. If you use Google Reader to view the feed from this blog, and have been having trouble since March 6, please try re-susbcribing to see if that corrects the problem.
Update: Feedburner stats confirm that my subscribers were cut in half - the number of them, not the individuals - from March 6 to March 7. Still researching the problem.

I just noticed that my count of Feedburner subscribers has suddenly dropped from around 175 to just around 105. I believe this is related to my Feedburner feed getting migrated from the old Feedburner to the new Google/Feedburner.

I just logged into Feedburner and migrated the feed. I'm hoping that fixes the glitch. Please let me know, either via comments and by the email in my profile, if you encounter any lasting problems.

Thanx - Xris

DCP-CB14 briefing on Inclusionary Housing provisions

Brooklyn's Community Board 14, which covers Flatbush and Midwood, has announced a meeting next week, Thursday, March 19 at 6pm, in the CB14 District Office at 810 East 16th Street:
The New York City Department of City Planning has agreed to brief our Board on the Inclusionary Housing Zoning Text Amendment. This is particularly important because, upon the anticipated adoption of the Flatbush rezoning proposal, these Inclusionary Housing rules will apply to certain portions of our district.
- Emergency Executive & Interested Members Meeting, Brooklyn Community Board 14, 2009-03-09
It's an "emergency" meeting because details for this meeting were not available when they published their March calendar of meetings.

Among the provisions of the recently certified Flatbush Rezoning Proposal are considerations to encourage preservation and development of affordable housing. The zoning mechanism for this is the Inclusionary Housing Program:
By providing a floor area bonus for the construction or preservation of affordable housing, inclusionary zoning harnesses the strength of the city's housing market to create a mix of units for low- and moderate-income families along with market-rate apartments.

The expanded [in 2005] Inclusionary Housing Program, which can be applied in areas being rezoned to medium- and high-density residential districts, combines a zoning floor area bonus with a variety of housing subsidy programs to create powerful incentives for the development and preservation of affordable housing. Developments taking advantage of the full bonus in the new program must devote at least 20 percent of their residential floor area to housing that will remain permanently affordable to lower-income households.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) is responsible for identifying eligible areas in rezoning plans, such as that for Flatbush. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is responsible for administering housing built according to the program.


Related Content

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal certified, enters public review process, 2009-03-02
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008-10-07
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, 2008-06-13


Emergency Executive & Interested Members Meeting, CB14
Inclusionary Housing Program, DCP

Sunday in the Garden

Sunday was warm, highs in the 60s (F). The Crocus were open. And the honeybees were swarming over them.

Honeybee on Crocus tommasinanus
Honeybee on Crocus tommasinianus

There are at least five (5) honeybees in this photo. Can you find them all?
Crocus tommasinianus

This is the third year for these little Crocus tommasinianus. They've grown into this small grove from just a handful of corms. Here's how they looked in March 2007:

Crocus tommasinianus and Eranthis hyemalis

The Eranthis in the above photo have not persisted. You can see how the Crocus have thrived.

Related Content

Other posts about the Front Garden


FDC Benefit Dinner Thursday, March 12

This Thursday, March 12, I am among the Neighborhood Association Honorees at the Flatbush Development Corporation's (FDC) 34th Anniversary Celebration dinner at Gargiulo's Restaurant, in Coney Island, Brooklyn [GMAP]:
FDC traditionally honors people who have made outstanding contributions to the Flatbush community. Along with neighborhood association and business honorees, this year, FDC's 34th Anniversary Award recipient will be Wendy Weller-Jones, long time neighborhood resident, and FDC volunteer. Her dedication and commitment to Flatbush Development Corporation and the community has been tremendous.
Individual tickets are $135; total contribution less $80.00 per ticket is tax deductible. To purchase tickets, call FDC at (718)859-3800.
The benefit and journal proceeds will help offset the financial cutbacks to our funding from city, state and foundation grants. Proceeds from this event will support the FDC programs and initiatives that help to build a strong community. These include commercial revitalization economic development activities; after-school programs for children and teens; recreation, mediation and health programs for at-risk teenagers; housing assistance to landlords, tenants, homeowners and cooperators; and assistance to our area's immigrant residents.


34th Anniversary Award Recipient
Wendy Weller-Jones
Neighborhood Business Honorees
The Farm on Adderley & Sycamore - Gary Jonas & Allison McDowell
Midwood Martial Arts - Alison Morea & Alfred DiGrazia
Neighborhood Association Honorees
Beverley Square West - Chris Kreussling
Ditmas Park - Nama Taub
Ditmas Park West - Dani Sucher
Fiske Terrace - Judy Hoffman
Midwood Park - Barbara Parisi
Newkirk Area Neighborhood - Giselle Nakhind
West Midwood - Carole and Len Grau

Related Content

Other posts on FDC


Flatbush Development Corporation
Gargiulo's Restaurant


Rally tomorrow for the Culver Community Garden

Meet at 12noon tomorrow at the corner of 9th Avenue and 39th Street [GMAP] to rally in support of creating a new community garden in Sunset Park: the Culver Community Garden. The group is organizing to convert the currently vacant lots on either side of the 9th Avenue station of the D/M subway line into public green spaces.

Related Content

Sunset Park can haz Community Garden?, 2008-11-25


Best View in Brooklyn
Culver Community Garden

Gowanus Lounge back online

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

I just discovered that Gowanus Lounge is back online. There is a placeholder post for future announcements:
With great sadness, a few of Bob’s friends, who were given access to his site, will try to update Gowanus Lounge with:

1) An obituary and other links

2) An announcement of a memorial service

Meanwhile, comments and questions are welcomed. They will be moderated. Please give us time.
- Gowanus Lounge Update & Bob Guskind Memorial, 2009-03-06

Related Content

Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009, 2009-03-05


Gowanus Lounge Update & Bob Guskind Memorial, 2009-03-06


Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

Update 2009.03.20: A memorial is planned for April 4.
Update 2009.03.14: Finally wrote my memorial post.
Update 2009.03.11: The official, authorized, and epic obituary for Bob, written lovingly by his family and friends, was published online today. Please read In Memoriam, Robert Guskind on Gowanus Lounge.
Updates 2009.03.06:
  • It's been all I can do just to keep up with the flood of online remembrances and other reports in response to Bob's death. As of mid-day, there are over 60. Reading everyone's posts brings back my own memories of Bob, which I hope to post over the weekend.
  • Changed the link for the Brooklyn Paper.

I just learned, from Windsor Terrace Alliance and Brownstoner, that Robert "Bob" Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, was found dead in his home yesterday, March 4, 2009.

He was a colleague, and a friend. I'm stunned, and can't write anything else right now. See Links below for others' coverage of this terrible loss.

Robert Guskind, speaking at the second Brooklyn Blogfest in May 2007.
Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge


Making Brooklyn Bloom this Saturday

This Saturday, March 7, from 10am to 4pm, Greenbridge, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Community Horticulture program, hosts its 28th annual Making Brooklyn Bloom. This year's theme is Growing Up Green: Guiding Youth from Gardening to Green-Collar Jobs.

Making Brooklyn Bloom


  • 10–11 a.m.
    • Registration, Coffee, and Exhibits in the Palm House: You must register on the day of the event to secure space in a workshop.
    • Exhibits of Youth Gardening and Greening Groups
  • 11 a.m.–Noon: Morning Workshops
  • Noon–1:30 p.m.
    • Exhibits in the Palm House
    • Lunch at the Terrace Café: Sandwiches, soup, and salads available
    • Networking Lunch: Advocating for School Gardens
    • Movies: Several short films will be shown in the auditorium beginning at 12:15 p.m., including BBG Children's Garden footage ca. 1930s, a short film on school gardening, and several videos made by green teens.
    • Activities: View exhibits from NY-area greening organizations · Enjoy the exhibit "My Favorite Garden," in the Steinhardt Conservatory · Enjoy interactive Discovery Carts in the Garden · Visit the Gift and Garden Shop · Seasonal Guided Walking Tour of the Garden (1–2 p.m) · View a Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest photo exhibition in the Visitors Center
  • 1:30–2:45 p.m.
    • Featured Speaker Maurice Small
      Keynote Address
      Youth | Soil | Food: Imagine...
      Location: Auditorium, Administration Building
    • Announcements
  • 3–4 p.m.: Afternoon Workshops
  • 4 p.m.: Pick Up a Spring Gift Bag as You Leave!

Workshop Topics

Some of these will be held at 11 a.m. and some at 3 p.m.; the schedule will be announced at registration. You will have a chance to choose only two workshops, one from each time block, space permitting. We recommend that you arrive early to get your first choices.

Kitchen Botany
Barbara Kurland, BBG School Programs manager

Worm Composting Indoors
Luke Halligan, BBG Brooklyn Compost Project

Cooking Up a Healthy Future
EATWISE: Cookshop for Teens, Food Bank for NYC

Interactive Games for Environmental Learning
BBG Garden Apprentice Program

Cultivating Street Tree Stewards
Natalie Wesson and Matt Genrich, GreenApple Corps/NYC Parks & Recreation

Emerging Green-Collar Jobs Panel
Kate Zidar, North Brooklyn Compost Project; Omar Freilla, Green Worker Cooperative; Ian Marvy, Added Value; Annette Williams, Sustainable South Bronx; Brian Aucoin, MillionTrees NYC Training Program

A Brooklyn Girl's Food Voice: Three Generations of Growing Food
Annie Hauck-Lawson, co-editor of Gastropolis: Food & New York City

A Year in the Garden
Lenny Librizzi, David Saphire, Council on the Environment of NYC; Learn It Eat It Grow It program participants

Growing a Kid's Kitchen Garden
Caleb Leech, BBG Herb Garden Curator

Building Youth / Adult Alliances
Sarita Daftary and East New York Farms! youth leaders

Starting a Children's Garden Program
Sara Epstein and Sara Scott, BBG Project Green Reach

Propagation Tips for the Frugal Gardener
Solita Stephens, Just Food/Olympus Garden Club

Rain Gardens for Beginners
Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice youth organizers

All the Dirt on Cultivating Healthy Soil
Monika Hannemann, BBG Discovery Garden program coordinator and Education Greenhouse manager

Drip Irrigation for Community Gardens
Irene Shen, BASE Partnership Director; Kiana Aiken, Tiyi Brewster, Chela Knight, BASE students

Recognizing Pattern in the Landscape and the Classroom
Claudia Joseph, Permaculture Exchange/Garden of Union

Related Content

Making Brookyln Bloom, March 2008 (Flickr photo set)
This Saturday: Green it! Grow it! Eat it! at BBG, 2008-03-04


Making Brooklyn Bloom - Growing Up Green: Guiding Youth from Gardening to Green-Collar Jobs

Propagation of Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

Propagation of Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

General characteristics

Sassafras albidum, Sassafras, is a medium-sized deciduous tree in the Lauraceae, the Laurel family. This is a family of mostly pantropical, evergreen shrubs and trees; Sassafras has the most northern distribution of the Lauraceae.
Native range and habitat
Sassafras is widespread in eastern North America, from Maine to Ontario and Michigan, south to Florida and eastern Texas. It's most common as a successional plant in disturbed areas.

Because of its wide natural range, select a local ecotype, or acquire from a local nursery, for best adaptation to your conditions.

Asexual/vegetative propagation

Sassafras can form pure stands through suckering. Specimens propagated by apparent transplantation from the field may actually be suckers separated from a parent plant or stand. These progeny are prone to suckering from lateral roots. To minimize this, do not transplant from the wild. Plant only container-grown seedlings. [Cullina, DIRR1997, Flint]

Propagation from root cuttings is possible.

Sexual propagation

Plants are dioecious.
Flowering and Pollination
Clusters of flowers with bright yellow sepals appear in early Spring, just before the leaf buds break. Flowers are pollinated by bees and flies.
Fruit are produced every year or two after the plant reaches maturity at about ten years of age. Fruit matures in the Fall. The fruit is an oil-rich, oval, blue-black drupe held on a red stem. Sassafras fruits are eaten by many species of birds.

Seeds may be gathered when fruits turn dark blue. Cleaned seeds may be stored for up to two years at cool temperatures. 120 Stratification - prechilling - for 120 days is required for germination. [USDA]


Cullina, William. Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines. 2002. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN-13: 978-0-618-09858-3
[DIRR1997] Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs. 1997. Timber Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-88192-404-6
[DIRR1998] Dirr, Michael. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Revised 1998. Stipes Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-0-87563-795-2
Flint, Harrison. Landscape Plants for Eastern North America. 1983. Wiley. ISBN: 0-471-86905-8
Sullivan, Janet (1993). "Sassafras albidum". Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory


Missouri Botanical Garden
Plants For A Future
University of Connecticut


Flatbush Rezoning Proposal certified, enters public review process

Update 2009-07-29: Flatbush Rezoning Proposal approved by City Council
Update 2009-05-15: The City Planning Commission (CPC) hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 3 at their offices at 22 Reade Street in downtown Manhattan. Sign in at 10am to testify.
Update 2009-03-16: Flatbush Rezoning Proposal CB14 Public Hearing April 2
Update 2009-03-10: DCP-CB14 briefing on Inclusionary Housing provisions March 19

Earlier today the City Planning Commission certified the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal. It now enters the public review process that is ULURP: the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The proposal covers a huge area: 180 blocks, nearly the entire northern half of Community Board 14.
The proposal, developed over a three year period in close consultation with Community Board 14, community members, local elected officials and neighborhood civic associations, would protect the diversity of scale and character of the area’s Victorian homes, row houses and apartment buildings by updating zoning to reflect the existing built character. The comprehensive community-based proposal furthers the Bloomberg Administration’s sustainable planning goals by rezoning to protect one of the city’s special lower-density neighborhoods while also providing opportunities for modest growth and permanently affordable housing along wide corridors well served by mass transit.
- DCP Press Release
Community efforts for rezoning go back more than the three years DCP has officially been involved. It was a topic of discussion at the first neighborhood association meeting we attended, more than four years ago.


Winter Storm Warning

Update 2009-03-02 08:00: Just back from shoveling a few hundred square feet of steps, walkway and sidewalk. Snow is 5" deep on the sidewalk, 6-6.5" deep on the ground, drifting higher. Snow is still falling, and predictions are for another 2-4" during the day on top of what we already have from last night.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the New York City tri-state area from 6pm tonight through 6pm Monday evening. A "major snowstorm" will drop 6 to 14 inches of snow, depending on location, with wind gusts up to 35 MPH.

The point forecast for Flatbush is projecting accumulations of over 13" and steady winds of over 25 MPH.

Alternate side parking rules are suspended city-wide to facilitate snow removal.

Update 2009-03-02: All NYC public schools are closed, the first time in five years.


Snow Along the East Coast, NASA Earth Observatory, 2009-03-03

Hazards: Winter Weather, NYC OEM