Greenpoint Gazette
Councilmember Steve Levin, GMDC CEO Brian Coleman, NAG Co-Chair Ward Dennis and Assemblyman Joe Lentol at the 2012 NAG Gala

NAG Celebrates Two Decades of North Brooklyn Activism

BY Tanay Warerkar

One of North Brooklyn’s longest serving advocacy groups, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG), is celebrating twenty years of activism in the neighborhood, this week.

And to mark its anniversary, NAG is holding its annual gala and fundraising event at Kent Avenue’s Biba, next Thursday, November 6.

The organization was founded in 1994 in response to a City proposal to install waste transfer stations along the Williamsburg waterfront. Originally titled Neighbors Against Garbage, the group worked successfully to put an end to those plans, in addition to closing down an illegally operated waste transfer station on the waterfront.

Over the years, NAG’s work to protect the waterfront diversified into various streams of advocacy – pursuing the State to purchase land along the waterfront for open park space – part of which has now been realized in the form of the East River State Park; it brought together the community to voice its opinions in the 2005 rezoning plan, resulting in the formation of the 40-community-group strong North Brooklyn Alliance, which helped convince the Mayor and City Council to agree to preserving jobs in the neighborhood, as well as create more park space. In most recent years, NAG has actively campaigned to promote affordable housing and tenants’ rights, which were also promised as part of the 2005 rezoning.

“We’ve had a great 20 years and we’re excited about the future,” said Ward Dennis, the co-chair of the organization. “While we focus on a core geographic area, we’ve really evolved as an organization over the years and not restricted ourselves to a single issue. We are always looking to build coalitions to form a better community.”

Each year, the Gala draws around 125 to 150 people, and the sale from the tickets is one of the major sources of income for the organization, which otherwise receives some funding from City and State grants, and grants provided by private organizations.

This year, with the spate of traffic-related accidents and recent shutdown of the G-train in the neighborhood, NAG also took on transit and transport advocacy, conducting surveys to learn residents’ concerns.

And work is already underway on its “hot spots,” map of all the toxic sites in the neighborhood that have sprung up due to years of excessive pollution in the neighborhood.

NAG’s 20th Anniversary Neighborhood Gala & Benefit, Biba, 110 Kent Avenue, 8 p.m. to midnight, honoring Teddy’s and Broadway Stages. For tickets, visit http://nag2014.bpt.me and for more information on NAG’s ongoing projects visit http://nag-brooklyn.org.

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