c. Left, Adama Delphine Fawundu c. Right, Obed Obwoge

Prospect Park Alliance Announces Artist In Residence Adama Delphine Fawundu

February 8, 2024

Prospect Park Alliance has announced the first Artist in Residence at Lefferts Historic House Museum. Brooklyn Artist Adama Delphine Fawundu will create a monumental, site-specific installation informed by new research from the Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative, which seeks to focus interpretation at the museum on the resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking whose unceded ancestral lands the house rests upon and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. The installation will debut in Spring 2024 in timing with the seasonal opening of the museum, and is funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation.

“Prospect Park Alliance’s first ReImagine Lefferts Artist in Residence is a step towards healing deep-seated wounds from our nation’s past,” said Prospect Park Alliance President, Morgan Monaco. “Art is a key medium for storytelling and this installation will help tell the stories of those who have traditionally been silenced. I look forward to park visitors engaging with and reflecting on Delphine’s installation as a form of healing, learning and community building.”

“When the Alliance reached out it was so special because we were both on a specific trajectory. My whole existence is based in this neighborhood. The smell of the grass when it rains in the park means so much to me…I have such a history here. It felt very much like a 360 degree event to connect with the ReImagine team here in Prospect Park,” reflects Artist in Residence Adama Delphine Fawundu on initial conversations with the Alliance.

Fawundu’s connection with Prospect Park is long standing. A born-and-raised Brooklynite, Fawundu has a personal history in the park. Her work with the Alliance was sparked by her 2020 performance piece, In the Face of History Freedom Cape, which was filmed in part in Prospect Park and Lefferts Historic House. Fawundu’s relationship with the park continued in 2021 through Joyful Blues, an installation with BRIC at the Lena Horne Bandshell that combined photographs taken in the late 1990s of Black girls in Brooklyn as well as garra fabric designs from Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Artist in Residence, Fawundu is creating a new site-specific work that is informed by the research Prospect Park Alliance has conducted into the lives of Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. To date, the Alliance has identified 25 people enslaved by the Lefferts family at the house between its construction in 1783 and the abolition of slavery in New York in 1827. Fawundu’s installation will include 25 textile pieces, each paying homage to the everyday heroism of these 25 individuals, installed across the historic house’s Flatbush Avenue facade.

“Delphine’s work builds upon research to honor the humanity of those whose stories were previously not told,” said Maria Carrasco, Prospect Park Alliance Vice President, Public Programs. “Her vision and work fit seamlessly with the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative in centering the resistance and resilience that enslaved Africans and generations of descendants have embodied throughout history.”

Fawundu’s work is rooted in humanism: “Knowing these names leads us to think about the stories of each person enslaved here, and to see each others’ humanity. We know of course that every enslaved person had intelligence and expertise, but we humanize them further when we ask ‘what else?’ about their story. Who was the scientist? Who was the herbalist? The fact that we tell these stories and the way that we tell them is so important,” says Fawundu.

Fawundu’s work is shaped not only by her personal history with the park and surrounding neighborhoods, but also by her over 10 years of experience as an educator in New York City public schools. “Resistance is so important for the younger generation. Black people have always been resisting from generation to generation, and telling stories that make our youth feel less-than is violent. Stories of the past clearly impact how younger people see themselves. The way we understand the past informs the present and future. This is something I have grappled with throughout my career as an artist and educator.”

About Adama Delphine Fawundu

Adama Delphine Fawundu is a photographer and visual artist of Mende, Krim, Bamileke and Bubi descent. Her distinct visual language centered around themes of indigenization, and ancestral memory, enriches and expands the visual art canon. Fawundu co-published the critically acclaimed book MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. She is an Assistant Professor of Visual Art at Columbia University. Learn more at delphinefawundu.com.

About ReImagine Lefferts

Prospect Park Alliance has launched ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative to re-envision the mission and programming of the Lefferts Historic House museum, an 18th-century Flatbush farmhouse and New York City landmark, to focus its interpretation and programming on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. The Alliance seeks to engage the public in thoughtful dialogue about the legacy of enslavement and the exploitation of marginalized communities in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at prospectpark.org/lefferts.

About Prospect Park Alliance

Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains “Brooklyn’s Backyard,” working in partnership with the City of New York. The Alliance was founded in 1987 to help restore Prospect Park after a long period of deterioration and decline. Today, the Alliance provides critical staff and resources that keep the park green and vibrant for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. The Alliance cares for the woodlands and natural areas, restores the park’s buildings and landscapes, creates innovative park destinations, and provides free or low-cost volunteer, education and recreation programs. Today, Prospect Park is an international model for the care of urban parks, and one of the premier green spaces in the United States. Learn more at prospectpark.org.

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

Mellon Foundation Logo

c. Paul Martinka

Free Winter Wellness in Prospect Park

January 3, 2024

Ward off the winter blues this season by exploring your park and getting active. Spending time in nature has known positive impacts on mental and physical health–and winter is no exception. Research shows that being in nature in all seasons can improve focus, lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality, boost your immune system, accelerate recovery from illness, and increase energy levels so you can kick off 2024 feeling like your best self.

Enjoy opportunities to get active, take in the serenity of the season and explore your park with a variety of free fun wellness opportunities for all ages:

Upbeat Pop! Dance Fitness at the Boathouse

Saturdays through February
Prospect Park Boathouse
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Shape-up NYC for a 45-minute dance fitness class! Come prepared to shake, roll, grapevine, and clap to your favorite upbeat pop songs. We will use this time to cultivate joy and silliness while getting a great workout and reaping the benefits of cardiovascular fitness. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. Whether you want to learn some new choreography or need a space to step-touch and sing, this class is for you!

Introduction to Birdwatching Outings

Saturdays through May
Prospect Park Boathouse
Whether you’re just starting out or have already joined the birding ranks, this introductory outing is for you! Every Saturday, join Prospect Park Alliance and a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club on an introductory walk to learn the basics of birding and search for the dozens of species that visit Prospect Park through all seasons. All levels are welcome and walks will begin at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. No registration necessary. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Please bring binoculars if you have them.

Take a Winter Walk in Prospect Park

Winter brings a serene stillness to the park that makes this season unlike any other. Check out the Alliance’s recommendation for the perfect winter walking route: one that will take you to Lookout Hill, one of the highest points in Brooklyn, with unparalleled views of the city and beyond. Plus, see some scenic sights on your route? Share them with us by tagging us in your winter walking photos on social media @prospect_park!

Try Ice Skating

Open Daily
LeFrakCenter at Lakeside
Get your heart rate up, brush up on skills, or pick up a brand new hobby at LeFrak Center at Lakeside’s two open air ice skating rinks! Whether you’re interested in skating lessons, hockey, or trying out curling, there is something for everyone to glide into 2024 with health, wellness and fun in mind.

Volunteer in the Park

Wednesdays through February
Locations Vary
Get active while lending a hand to your park at a Winter Corps volunteer session! Join Prospect Park Alliance every Wednesday through February 28 for a fun filled way to give back and explore Brooklyn’s Backyard. Volunteers will assist in raking, minor shoveling, trail mulching, and other landscaping needs throughout Prospect Park.

c. Katey St. John for BK Reader

BK Reader Features Adrian Clarke

December 11, 2023

Prospect Park Tennis Center Director Adrian Clarke was recently featured by BK Reader. Get to know Adrian, learn about what drew him to tennis and what sparked his longtime passion for steel pan drumming.

An excerpt from the December 8 story Steel Pan Drums and Tennis: The Double Life of Brooklyn’s Adrian Clarke:

Growing up in Barbados, Adrian Clarke surrounded himself with two things: tennis and music. When he moved to Brooklyn in 1973 as a young adult, he took his two passions with him. The 67-year-old East Flatbush local now works as the director of the Prospect Park Tennis Center by day. But by night, he’s a steel pan drum player.

“When you’re playing music, usually everyone is smiling,” Clarke said. “You usually bring joy to a lot of people, and that’s the best part of it.”

Long before learning to play steel pan, Clarke began playing tennis in Barbados at the age of 12 and went on to play professionally, competing in the 1983 U.S. Open qualifying rounds.  “I wasn’t that much into school, but I needed something to be focused on. And tennis became that thing,” Clarke said.

Clarke’s two passions play a huge role in his life, and often their significance overlaps, the Brooklynite said. “You’re bringing joy to people when you’re playing music,” he said.  “When you’re teaching tennis to people, you’re also bringing something to them that they really need.”

Read the full story from BK Reader and view the video below on Adrian Clarke’s Double Life.

 

Shanna Sabio’s Guide to Flatbush

November 14, 2023

Flatbush, a neighborhood that borders the southeast corner of Prospect Park, is a must-visit destination for delving into Brooklyn history, art, food, fashion and more. Prospect Park Alliance spoke with Flatbush civic leader and born-and-raised Brooklynite, Shanna Sabio, about her work in the neighborhood as well as her take on the must-visit, Black-owned spots throughout Flatbush. Sabio is co-founder of GrowHouse Community Design + Development Group and trustee of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition, a Black-led, multiracial coalition that is working to preserve the Flatbush African Burial Ground and make it an accessible space for the community. Her most recent work, the Sankofa Walking Tour, is an exploration of Black and African history in Brooklyn. In her own words below, Sabio takes us through some of her most beloved spots in Flatbush.

Sabio leading the Sankofa Walking Tour. c. Shanna Sabio

Brooklyn has been an epicenter of global Blackness, with people hailing from almost every Caribbean island, the American South and the African continent. Brooklyn is also an epicenter of gentrification. Amidst the demographic shifts, Black-owned businesses throughout the borough are building a renaissance that needs the support of all New Yorkers to keep Central Brooklyn as a site of important culture, creation and evolution for generations to come. There are a few corridors that feel like the heart of this renaissance in Flatbush.

In researching for my Sankofa Walking Tour at the Flatbush African Burial Ground, I realized that Flatbush has been a melting pot of global Blackness since the mid 1600s when enslaved Africans were brought here to build the infrastructure of what would become Brooklyn. People from the Congo and Angola, Madagascar, Ghana and Nigeria all were brought here, as well as Black people enslaved in the Caribbean. The walk has been evolving as I learn new information and partner with the amazing staff with Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative, which is bringing to light the history of enslaved Africans at Lefferts Historic House. As a member of the ReImagine Lefferts Advisory Board, I’m so pleased with the care and thoughtfulness with which they’re engaging our community around this important history—the epitome of allyship in practice.The J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience is an example of using a historic space to connect with and highlight contemporary cultural work.

Shanna’s Guide to Flatbush

One favorite spot is Natural Blend juice bar and restaurant. When members of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition get together to clean up the perimeter of the burial ground, we often fuel up at Natural Blend.Their patties are delicious and they have a wide variety of beverages including smoothies and house-made ginger beer and sorrel.The yucca pone there also reminds me of the kind my grandmother made during the holidays.

Natural Blend Vegetarian Cafe and Juice Bar c. Prospect Park Alliance

 

Flatbush Central Market is another key Flatbush destination. The spaces here are gorgeous, especially the Lakay Lounge. The commercial kitchen/tasting room is also really affordable to book and is state-of-the-art. Part of what I love most about Central Brooklyn is the community, and this space has tremendous potential to grow as a hub for Black folks to gather and experiment. Bunnan is also here, and if you love plantain, their sandwich (which uses fried plantains as the bun) is a must-try.

Lakay Lounge in Flatbush Central/Canton Market courtesy of Shanna Sabio and Prospect Park Alliance.

When I need to buy gifts, I always stop by Granru Market. Their t-shirts are really unique and I love their mix of vintage and new clothing. I also love that they’re adding housewares to the selection. A couple of doors down from Granru is Edie Jo’s (one of the partners is Black). It’s a great place to have a working lunch because the staff is so personable and they make you feel welcome and not rushed.

Lips Cafe c. Prospect Park Alliance

From the Burial Ground if you walk to Nostrand Avenue, you can walk pretty much into Bed-Stuy and find places to stop and explore. I’m not vegan, but I crave the food at Aunts et Uncles. Their All Green Everything salad is satisfying and delicious, and I always get their Ginger Cucumber Juice which feels very healing. If I want to imbibe, their cocktails are also expertly crafted and the vibe is always right. Lips Cafe is also a great place to have a working lunch. It feels like family there and I love the connection between this space and Aunts et Uncles across the street. They’re both family-owned, which is a part of our rich legacy as Black folks, and they also share with one another which is how we all grow.

A few blocks across Linden Boulevard is Zanmi. Friday and Saturday nights are a vibe and the food is a new twist on Haitian. The portions are healthy so make sure to save space. Plus, the jerk pork at Jerk Pit is tender, juicy, perfectly spiced, and not to be missed.

In addition to restaurants, cafes and markets, Flatbush is also a hub of fashion.The fact that the legendary Fe Noel has a shop in Little Caribbean is a testament to the work that Shelley Worrell of I AM CARIBBEING has done building this community as a brand. The space is gorgeous and really creates an experience in the shop. I also recently discovered Closet Rich when I was looking for an outfit to wear out. The owner, Star, is a wealth of knowledge about Black women in fashion. I love the fitting room which has pictures of Black women fashion icons. It’s a relatively new business and the prices are so approachable for the kinds of styles she carries.

Learn more about upcoming Sankofa Walking Tours with GrowHouse and check out the above spots to craft your perfect day in Flatbush.

Learn More Button Large

New Art Installation at the Bandshell

Prospect Park Alliance and BRIC, a leading contemporary, multi-disciplinary arts and media institution anchored in downtown Brooklyn, in partnership with NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program present a mural by Kevin Claiborne, Lost Boys, at the Lena Horne Bandshell at Prospect Park. This is the fourth annual public art collaboration between BRIC and the Alliance at the Bandshell, and the piece will be on view through April 21, 2024. Claiborne, a conceptual photographer, engages viewers in critical self-reflection and collective examination of the Black experience. With Lost Boys, Claiborne challenges established notions of cultural legibility and encourages viewers to delve deeper into the origins, embodiment, and sufficiency of Blackness, including its impact on mental health.

Where can Blackness reach

Was Blackness first

Can Blackness be worn

Where is Black enough

What is Black enough

When is Black enough

The above text is superimposed upon the repeated face of an unidentified Black male youth, sourced from a photograph captured in Harlem, New York during the early 1900s. The repeated image of the unidentified young boy carries a symbolic weight, representing not only the individual but also a broader collective experience.

Painted in vibrant shades of blue and black, the boy’s direct gaze confronts the viewer while the repeated patterning and overlay of text pushes and pulls the colorful faces between differing levels of visibility.

The mural’s artist, Kevin Claiborne, said “I’m very grateful for BRIC and Prospect Park Alliance giving me the opportunity to share my artwork with the Brooklyn community and I hope people enjoy engaging with the statements and questions posed in the work. The installation of Lost Boys at the Lena Horne Bandshell is perfect as it creates an accessible bridge between art, history, and community engagement. The poignant questions in the work serve as an invitation for introspection and also honor Horne’s legacy by fostering dialogue and reflection on themes crucial to her life’s work, including Black empowerment, identity, and inclusivity. The artwork activated by the stage and community, amplifies the park’s role beyond mere leisure, transforming it into a space for communal exchange and connection.”

Jenny Gerow, Chief Curator, Director of Contemporary Art at BRIC, said “Kevin Claiborne’s urgent message of mental health, writ large in a natural space such as Prospect Park, illustrates that not only are these topics not often addressed, but that the space in which they are delivered is taken for granted. We are excited to be partnering with Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Parks Art in the Parks program for a fourth year to engage with this beautiful public space in the presentation of Kevin Claiborne’s artwork. ”

Morgan Monaco, President of Prospect Park Alliance, said “We are honored to be working with BRIC, the NYC Parks Art in the Parks program and artist Kevin Claiborne to welcome Lost Boys to Prospect Park. This work beautifully surfaces many of the internal monologues that generations of BIPOC people have struggled to answer for themselves as individuals and for entire communities. I look forward to park visitors engaging with the work, as we endeavor to create spaces within the park for reflection on social justice issues as well as healing. Given the prominent location of the Lena Horne Bandshell and the connection to a long history of performing art, I hope it will help people feel seen and also spark inspiration to find moments of joy.”

The mural at Lena Horne Bandshell is part of BRIC Hip-Hop, the new, permanent home for Hip-Hop education, expression, and its evolution at BRIC. BRIC’s fall programming encompasses multiple aspects of Hip-Hop culture including visual art, fashion, film, advocacy, and more. BRIC’s Hip-Hop 50 curation underscores their commitment to showcasing and institutionalizing Hip-Hop culture and preserving community connection.

c. Caroline Ourso

Ribbon Cut on New Fallkill Trail in Prospect Park

October 26, 2023

Prospect Park Alliance cut the ribbon on a new woodland trail in Prospect Park. Fallkill Trail (directions here), located in an area that has been behind fencing since 1995, will now invite park visitors to get a closer look at the scenic Fallkill Waterfall and experience the beauty and serenity of Prospect Park’s restored urban forest.

Prospect Park Alliance President, Morgan Monaco, the Alliance’s Landscape Management Team, dedicated volunteers and community members celebrated the opening of this path.

“We have monitored how people are engaging with the park and we adapt our uses to meet them where they are,” says Morgan Monaco, President of Prospect Park Alliance. “This new trail will invite visitors to explore a previously fenced area of the park and enjoy the beautifully restored landscape. The long-term health of our natural areas requires us to be champions and strong stewards of the park and I urge all who come to experience the park’s woodlands to stay on the designated trails, carry out all trash that you bring in, and always keep dogs on-leash to protect these delicate habitats.”

The new trail was created by Prospect Park Alliance staff and volunteers who have worked for the past year, removing invasive plants and planting native species to continue to strengthen this ecosystem, hauling logs, grading paths, and helping to formalize this trail. Through their efforts, Fallkill Trail is ready to welcome visitors into this robust forest landscape.

Prospect Park is home to 350 acres of natural areas, including meadows, forest and lake in the heart of Brooklyn—essential for the community and the plants and animals who rely on this green haven. For the past 30 years, these natural areas have been and continue to be the primary focus of Prospect Park Alliance’s work. The Alliance’s Landscape Management team works tirelessly to make the woodlands healthy and resilient to the challenges faced by an urban forest in the era of climate change. Through their management, Brooklynites will have a flourishing forest in their midst for generations to come.

The rustic nature of Prospect Park’s forest, woodlands and waterways are key to Prospect Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for the park and his mission to offer a feeling of the Adirondacks in the heart of Brooklyn. The landscape surrounding Fallkill Falls was first restored by Prospect Park Alliance in the 1990’s and painstakingly reconstructed to Olmsted’s original vision and then surrounded by fencing to protect it from the impacts of foot traffic.

In recent years, the Fallkill area was often visited by fence-jumpers looking to get closer to the falls, resulting in trampling of the woodlands, litter and graffiti. By formalizing a mulched path and officially opening this area to the public, the Alliance aims to make this scenic area more accessible while encouraging stronger stewardship around Fallkill Falls including staying on the path, carrying out any litter, not picking bark or leaves from trees, and keeping dogs on-leash at all times in woodland areas.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s work to sustain the environment, including the new Falkill Trail. 

Woodlands Youth Crew’s Successful Season

October 17, 2023

If you took a stroll through Prospect Park’s scenic woodlands this summer, there’s a good chance you spotted the summer Woodlands Youth Crew members hard at work on restoration projects to keep the park’s woodland areas healthy and vibrant. The Woodlands Youth Crew (WYC) is an essential part of the Alliance’s dedicated staff that works to restore and sustain Brooklyn’s essential forest. The program, which offers spring, summer and fall sessions, is team-based with a focus on collaboration. This beloved youth employment program provides teens with training, mentorship and professional experience in environmental conservation and park stewardship. This year, led by Kevon Hines, the Alliance’s Woodlands Youth Crew Program Supervisor, the group undertook important park projects while participating in professional development and skill-building workshops.

Woodlands Youth Crew in Prospect Park.

Prospect Park Alliance’s Woodlands Youth Crew members engage in a plant-identification workshop. c. Woodlands Youth Crew Program Supervisor, Kevon Hines

This summer’s group of 16 youth from eight local high schools included both first-time crew members, some of whom were entirely new to environmental work, and returning crew members with experience to share. The fruits of this crew’s skilled work can be seen throughout the park’s woodlands: the team replaced fencing along the Ambergill path near the entrance to the woodland Ravine to provide long-term erosion control. The resourceful group also utilized logs from downed trees in other areas of the park to fortify the steep slope surrounding the path for increased erosion control, and weeded the area to prepare for the planting of new climate-adaptive native plants. The group also built upon last summer’s youth crew work and completed the installation of a cedar railing to keep park goers on-path and protect fragile woodland habitats.

After wrapping up his first season with the Alliance, Kevon reflected on his own connection with youth programming and the role it plays in his current career. “At the age of 15, my very first job was in a similar program at East New York Farms and I learned from my supervisor there how essential it was to lead with an emphasis on being there for youth as people: to build the job-specific skills but also learn about the qualities to be an adult in the working world. That’s what I try to instill here in the lives of the youth crew members. My experience being involved in this work in my own youth with such a dedicated supervisor is what led me to have a love for this work.”

Woodlands Youth Crew 2023 in Prospect Park.

The Woodlands Youth Crew in action performing essential work to sustain Prospect Park’s beloved forest. c. Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew Manager, Kevon Hines

One returning crew member, Kayla Jean Baptise, shared that one of the most enriching aspects of the role was the collaboration with employees across the Alliance: “My favorite part was the opportunity to connect with different Ecological Zone Gardeners on the Landscape Management team. Not only did they share knowledge about the different ways the park is managed in their zone, but also how important the roles they play [in supporting the park ecosystem] are too. Every summer I’ve been here [the Alliance] always takes the time to factor in the presence of young minds and constantly incorporates enjoyment with our tasks,” Kayla shares, “in my time as a WYC member, I’ve learned serious time management skills by balancing multiple tasks and responsibilities while ensuring that the task at hand was completed within its time frame.”

In addition to the crucial work of these youth to sustain our urban forest, it’s clear that their projects go hand-in-hand with leadership development and mentorship. “My biggest takeaway and the most rewarding part of the season is helping them become the best young adults that they can be,” says Kevon. “ Many come in wanting to learn about plants and nature but leave with a much broader interest in what we do and how careers in this field can develop over time. The WYC members learn to lean on their peers and learn from one another. It’s both about teaching and allowing youth to then teach their peers. This shows me not only are they retaining this information, but understanding it to the extent where they can now feed the world: they’re putting that knowledge to work and sharing what they know.”

Jamiah Shepard, a WYC member who returned this summer season in a new leadership role on the Woodlands Youth Crew known as a “Near Peer,” shares a love for the ecology in the park as a highlight of her work. “An important skill that I’ve learned is the ability to identify species within the park. Not necessarily just trees, but also flowers, shrubs and even certain insects! No two things are the same, the constant discovery of new life around me definitely made my summer.” Above all, Jamiah shares that “meeting, teaching and learning from new and old individuals alike was the best part. The work we do revolves around teamwork and communication, and I’m glad to have come back for another season and see people from years back, as well as laugh with new faces. I’m glad to have been on such an amazing crew!”

As the Alliance looks ahead to upcoming seasons of the Woodlands Youth Crew, Kevon and his team share an excitement for what lies ahead, “This was the first season where we incorporated workshops and a curriculum-related component. This really resonated with the group, and in future years I plan to keep this momentum and increase the workshops we offered.” This year, the team engaged in workshops focused on environmental and ecological justice, and daily skills like financial literacy, as well as hands-on plant-identification skill workshops led by  Alliance Senior Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein.

Learn more about the Woodlands Youth Crew and how to apply for future seasons.

Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Lefferts

October 16, 2023

Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts Initiative is re-envisioning the mission and programming of the Lefferts Historic House museum in Prospect Park to focus its interpretation and programming on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family.

As part of this initiative, the Alliance is engaging the public in thoughtful dialogue about the legacy of slavery in Brooklyn and beyond. In September, the Alliance had the honor of hosting Joseph McGill Jr., founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, and Herb Frazier, co-author with McGill of Sleeping with the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery, for a book discussion and community conversation. McGill spends the night in former slave dwellings across the nation to draw attention to the often otherwise obscured and distorted history of slavery. He and Frazier stayed overnight at Lefferts Historic House as part of this event.

ReImagine Lefferts Community Conversation

Community members engage in a ReImagine Lefferts Community Conversation and book signing with McGill and Frazier following the authors’ stay at the Lefferts Historic House. c. k. kennedy Whiters

“I was able to touch the wooden beams that hold up the ceiling on the second floor space where enslaved people likely slept,” shared McGill following his stay at the house. “I could feel the cuts that an enslaved man made with an ax to craft that beam. I found what I think could be a fingerprint in one of the bricks in the chimney in the attic. Enslaved people were the ones who formed the bricks with their hands, so that fingerprint connects us to history.”

A focal point of the ReImagine Lefferts initiative is the Alliance’s collaboration with descendant and neighboring communities, culture bearers, scholars, artists, civic leaders and more to create content that will support the museum’s new focus and deepen our relationships with these communities through active conversation and collaboration.

“It takes power from within to want to tell the real story so that we can combat the things that have gotten us to a place where our history has been made irrelevant. Because that spirit is there, I think [the Alliance] will be successful in what you’re trying to do,” said McGill at the event.

Frazier reflected on the ongoing research as a core element of the ReImagine Lefferts initiative, and the importance of continuing to delve deeper. “As a storyteller, I like the idea that you have identified the 25 names of the people who were enslaved here. There obviously needs to be more research to find a more full understanding of who they were as individuals and maybe unearth additional people who worked on this site and lived at this house. And, of course, additional research to confirm where they slept. Nevertheless, Joseph and I will both leave with the satisfaction that we were close to where they slept and that we were able to connect with them.”

Learn more about the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative and events at Lefferts Historic House, including an upcoming behind-the-scenes tour with Open House New York.

ReImagine Lefferts is funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Mellon Foundation Logo

c. Martin Seck

Halloween Fun in Prospect Park

Prospect Park Alliance is gearing up for Halloween fun in Brooklyn’s Backyard with Creepy Crawly Halloween at the Audubon Center, Haunted Carousel at the beloved Children’s Corner in Prospect Park and the final weekend of J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience at the Lefferts Historic House! Don’t miss these fun filled festive events.

Halloween Fest at Lakeside
Sunday, October 22, 11 – 2 pm + 2:30 – 5:30 pm
LeFrak Center at Lakeside, $22
Celebrate Halloween with spooky festivities at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside! Enjoy roller skating, bumper cars, a game zone, arts and crafts, and cookie decorating. Families can skate in costume and enjoy a festive goody bag with halloween treats.

Creepy Crawly Halloween
Saturday, October 28, 11 am-4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free 
Join Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center for a special Halloween celebration. Take a second look at the creatures that give you the creeps, you may find you like them! Participate in fun activities and experiments that will make your spine tingle!

Nature Chef’s Surprise, 1 – 3 pm
Our nature chef has some tasty treats for you to try that are delicious, nutritious, and crunchy!  Take a nibble and earn a special certificate and boasting button.  Learn how this mystery treat is a sustainable alternative protein source that has nutritional benefits.

Discovery Boxes, 12 – 3 pm
What’s inside?  Put your hand in and find out with a fun sensory activity with just the right amount of scary!

Creepy Crawly Walk, 3-4 pm
Participants will search for Prospect Park’s creepy residents and explore hidden areas of the park.

Haunted Carousel
Saturday, October 28 + Sunday, October 29, 124 pm
Prospect Park Carousel

Children’s Corner, $3 per ride; $13 for a book of 5 tickets; Free with Prospect Park Alliance Family Supporter membership or higher.
Don’t be scared when you see the haunted carousel! Take a spin on the spooky ride to your favorite Halloween jams at the beloved Prospect Park Carousel.
Join the Alliance at the Family Supporter  level and your family (up to 4 people) will receive unlimited rides on the Carousel for a full year!

Spookysburg Trick or Eat Extravaganza
Sunday, October 29, 12 — 6 pm
Breeze Hill, Prices Vary
Smorgasburg turns into Spookysburg, a family-friendly fall fest marking the last day of the season, and here’s what we’ve got lined up! Festivities include a Halloween Hunt and Prize BOO-nanza, a pet costume contest, KidZone nad much more!

J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience
Saturdays + Sundays in October, 12 – 4 pm
Lefferts Historic House, Free
While it’s not halloween-themed, the vibrant costumes of J’ouvert Genesis Immersive experience are not to be missed this October! Join Prospect Park Alliance, JouvayFest Collective and City Lore for the J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience — an exploration of the rich and colorful history of J’ouvert in Trinidad & Tobago and its important role in Brooklyn today through life-sized traditional J’ouvert character costumes, signature percussive instruments, large-format photography, virtual reality and more. The exhibit closes Sunday, November 19 – don’t miss it!

Prospect Park Murder Mystery Audio Tour
Gesso App, Free
Enjoy a thrilling murder mystery audio-tour, set in Prospect Park. When a key player goes missing at the marriage ceremony of the summer, reluctant wedding columnist Bobbi Rossetti transforms into an ad hoc investigative reporter on the case. Follow Bobbi through a fictional version of 1920s Prospect Park as she decodes the clues and uncovers a stunning secret in this immersive audio mystery. All you need are headphones and the Gesso mobile app to get started!

Open House New York in Prospect Park

September 20, 2023

Mark your calendar! Registration for Open House New York begins Monday, October 9 for events city-wide including exciting happenings in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Join Prospect Park Alliance for a behind-the-scenes tour of the newly restored Lefferts Historic House and a tour of the Prospect Park Vale with an inside look at the upcoming restoration to make it more welcoming and accessible to all Brooklyn residents.

Save the date! Registration begins on Monday October 9:

OHNY: Re-Envisioning the Prospect Park Vale

Saturday October 21, 10:00 am – 11:00 am and 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Prospect Park Vale

Join Svetlana Ragulina, Senior Landscape Architect, and Deborah Kirschner, Vice President of External Relations, at Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains Prospect Park in partnership with the City, to learn about the upcoming restoration of the Prospect Park Vale in the northeast corner of the park. Learn about the Alliance’s plans to transform the Vale, an important woodland landscape that serves as a critical habitat to birds and other wildlife, and the extensive community outreach and engagement efforts that led to a new vision for this lesser-known park landscape to make it more welcoming and accessible to all Brooklyn residents. This tour will be led on pedestrian pathways but closed toed shoes would be recommended, particularly if there are rainy conditions. The area is not ADA-accessible. It will be fully outdoors.

Please note there will be two hour-long tours: 10:00 am – 11:00 am and 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

OHNY: Lefferts Historic House Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Saturday October 21, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Lefferts Historic House

You’re invited to a behind-the-scenes look at the newly restored and reimagined Lefferts Historic House. This 18th-century Flatbush farmhouse and New York City landmark, jointly operated by Prospect Park Alliance and the Historic House Trust, reopened this season after a $2.5 million major restoration which was recognized with a 2023 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honor for outstanding preservation. In timing with the restoration, the Alliance launched ReImagine Lefferts, an initiative funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation that is re-envisioning the mission and programming of the museum to explore the stories of resistance and resilience by the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family.

Visit the Lefferts Historic House to see the restored farmhouse, the inaugural exhibition of the ReImagine Lefferts Initiative, the J’ouvert Genesis Immersive Experience, and on a first-come, first-served basis every 30 minutes, embark on a guided tour of some of the house’s areas not on public view. The behind-the-scenes tour takes visitors into areas that are only accessible via staircases, and is therefore not ADA-accessible.