What is this partnership between Brooklyn Street and Habitat for Humanity?

First, a bit of history: You are probably aware that a group of your Brooklyn Street neighbors have formed a group called Brooklyn Street Neighborhood Alliance. From their website at brooklynstreetna.org:

Mission Statement: To create a sustainable, multi-generational, life-sharing community within North Adams that includes persons with disabilities, families, and friends.
Vision Statement: We believe that everyone deserves to be a life-long contributing member of a diverse community, and to have the opportunity to form meaningful relationships. We envision a community that will provide opportunities for people with different abilities to live, work, and play together.

 

Brooklyn Street faces serious challenges. A number of homes are empty, owned by banks that have no interest in the neighborhood and others are under threat of foreclosure. Many of us live in homes that are due for fixes or improvements, and new people who buy houses on the street may also want to fix things up. We all want the street to be a better place for our families.

A couple of BSNA members have been active in Habitat for Humanity for some time, and they proposed that BSNA and Habitat form a partnership to help new and long-time homeowners on Brooklyn Street to stay in and improve their homes. Habitat enthusiastically agreed to join us!

How will this work?

If a project is approved, Habitat for Humanity will act as contractor, working as much as possible with volunteer labor to minimize costs. At least some of this volunteer labor will come from neighbors.

Here is an outline of how a project might work out:

  1. A homeowner proposes a repair or improvement project to a Brooklyn Street residents committee.

  2. This committee decides if the proposed project should go to Habitat for planning, cost estimates.

  3. If Habitat thinks the project will work, they will prepare a rough plan for the work to be done with cost estimates for materials, permitting, and work that must be done by outside contractors.

  4. The Brooklyn Street committee then asks whether funding is available:

    1. Does the homeowner have the money?

    2. If not, can funding be found elsewhere?

  5. If the project is feasible, it is added to the list of Brooklyn Street projects for Habitat.

  6. A number of factors will determine when the project happens:

    1. How soon the homeowner needs the project to be done.  

    2. Habitat’s work schedule and availability of volunteer workers.

    3. When funds are available.

    4. Season (indoor vs. outdoor projects).

To be determined - by you!

We all need to organize a committee of Brooklyn Street residents (not just the original group) whose job will include:

  1. Reaching out to residents of the street and finding potential projects.

  2. Working with Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity to organize projects.

  3. Exploring fund-raising to help cover expenses for projects.

  4. Explaining what we are doing to the larger community.

Contact us

About Brooklyn Street

Intentional Communities/Co-housing

Some people consider an intentional/co-housing neighborhood a return to the best of small-town America.

Futurists suggest that intentional communities and co-housing options are a response to the 21st century's social, economic, and environmental challenges.

We say it's an ideal balance of privacy and community — a safe, sustainable, and rewarding way to live! Imagine a neighborhood where...

  • Neighbors know each other well, and can socialize, if they choose, over home-cooked dinners or shared activities in a comfortable common house.
  • People of all abilities and their families and friends are life-long members of a diverse community.
  • Neighbors live much more sustainably after renovating or building wisely, and share common resources.

Our New "Old Fashioned" Neighborhood

We value acceptance, inclusion, and self-determination. We believe everyone deserves to be a life-long contributing member of a diverse community, and to have the opportunity to develop life-long, meaningful relationships. We know that all members of our community have something to learn from one another, and that everyone should have "a voice at the table". We enjoy life sharing!

Our community is developing into an old-fashioned neighborhood, created with strong values, and a little ingenuity. It brings together the value of private homes with the benefits of safety, community support, and more sustainable living.  This means:

  • Greener buildings, common resources, and strong connections with neighbors.
  • Affordable housing options that are flexible, and able to change to meet individual needs to the extent that is reasonably possible.
  • Opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to live, work, and socialize together.
  • Nurturing one another's interests and abilities, and supporting individual interests and choices.

History of Co-housing

Co-housing first emerged in Denmark more than thirty years ago, and the first co-housing in the United States was completed in 1991. In 2010, there were over 100 well-established co-housing neighborhoods in the United States, and approximately 100 more in development. Most of these are neighborhoods with a specific intention, and most are intergenerational.

The Brooklyn Street Neighborhood Alliance is unique in that it combines the vision and mission of a cohousing community — and also welcomes and supports diversity, including people with special needs and their families and friends. It is also unusual in that it is a retrofit of an old and established neighborhood, rather than a new development - and it is reflective of our commitment to the revitalization of North Adams. We want to be part of a thriving, sustainable community — we know it can happen, one neighborhood at a time!

Mel, Emperors, and Clothing

Mary Lou Accetta's picture

Reading Heather’s blog about “The Emperor’s New Clothes” resulted in a trip down memory lane for me. It is with laughter (and yes, fellow parents/guardians, sometimes it takes a few days, or even weeks, before I can laugh!) that I share a few “incidents” with you, with explicit permission from my son Mel to do so. Here are three stories: "The Bank Incident", "The Skirt Incident", and "The Supermarket Incident".

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