On your next journey around New York City, hop on the G train and discover Fort Greene. This Brooklyn neighborhood brings a mixture of old and new. From eco-friendly restaurants and coffee shops to contemporary art galleries, dance studios, and historical theaters, Fort Greene provides a diversity of art, culture, and good food to its residents and visitors.
Recently, I had the privilege to take part in a tour provided by the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts-NY, an organization bringing cultural leaders as well as leaders of the community together to revitalize New York City from our neighborhoods, and the Urban Bush Women through the neighborhood of Fort Greene with guide Maria Burman. Maria is a member of the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts as well as the Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Urban Bush Women, an all-female dance company that heightens awareness of social issues through dance. For 25 years, the Urban Bush Women has served by being able aspire as well as strengthen the community through providing education in social justice, gaining new audiences, and providing dance instruction to the young and the young at heart.
While strolling along past Fort Greene’s unique brownstone homes, our group had the chance stop and indulge in one of the tastiest and most popular treats Fort Greene had to offer–the Corn and Cuban. A neighborhood favorite, the Corn and Cuban is a sweet and spicy flavored corn on the cob served at the Habana Outpost, an eco-friendly, Mexican-American restaurant.
Designed in a picnic-in-the-park setting, Habana Outpost maintains its restaurant sustainably by providing solar power, a rainwater collection system, and compost and recycle stations. Habana Outpost also plays an active role in the community by providing educational programs that focus on urban environmentalism in Brooklyn. Habana Outpost will be serving its last Corn and Cuban of the year at the restaurant’s annual Halloween party, October 28th, and will not open back up until April 2013.
Our next stop on the tour brought us to Moshood, a clothing store dedicated to providing clothes that represents local designers of the African Diaspora. Moshood also hosts outdoor fashion shows showcasing their pieces.
Our next stop, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, or MoCADA, shows work that represents the social and political issues of the African Diaspora. Established in 2006, MoCADA has continued to provide fellowship and internship programs to aspiring artists as well as tours and educational programs to the public.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM, is one of Fort Greene’s landmarks. For 150 years, BAM has brought drama, dance, and opera to its Brooklyn residents.
Last but not least, our final destination took us to Cumbe Center for African and Diaspora Dance. This dance studio provides instruction in dance, percussion, and fitness derived from the African Diaspora. Cumbre also serves as a great part of the community in exposing others to performance techniques coming for the African Diaspora.
Fort Greene contributes to the Brooklyn community a strong foundation of social and political awareness that is expressed through the neighborhood’s thriving centers of performing and visual arts.
For more information on visiting and learning about other communities in Brooklyn as well as other towns in New York City, visit the Municipal Art Society.
Photos: Karen Hill