Get to Know Morgan Monaco

January 18, 2023

Morgan Monaco, the new Prospect Park Alliance President and Park Administrator has a long history in the parks world and a storied record of leadership in support of her community. Most recently, Monaco served as Executive Director of the Red Hook Initiative, a youth and community development nonprofit impacting the 6,500 residents of the Red Hook Houses, Brooklyn’s largest public housing development. Earlier in her career, Monaco served two tenures at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, first as Director of the MillionTreesNYC Initiative and later as Director of Stewardship for Forestry, Horticulture and Natural Resources. Monaco began her career at StoryCorps, a national oral history project designed to build connections between people and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.

Monaco currently lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn and her family is an avid user of Prospect Park. As she begins the new role and leads Brooklyn’s Backyard into its next chapter, we chatted with Monaco about her vision for the future of the park, favorite spots and more.

What are you most looking forward to as you begin your role?

I am most looking forward to learning more about everything the Prospect Park team, both NYC Parks and Alliance staff, does to maintain and sustain Brooklyn’s Backyard. There’s so much that goes on “behind the scenes” that may not be apparent to the average park visitor, and I’m excited to learn in-depth how the park operates throughout the year. I am also particularly excited about joining the team at this moment in time. There has never been more interest in and use of the park, and I’m excited to talk to our community about why Prospect Park is special for them, and how the park has taken on new meaning during the pandemic.

With a background in environmental sustainability and social justice, how do you think Prospect Park can be a both thought and action leader in these areas?  

I think it’s important to start from a place of seeing sustainability and social justice as symbiotic. Sustainability is not just a luxury that gets added on top, but is deeply integrated into the work we do as a society to promote equity and social justice. I see access to open space as one of the core pillars, among others such as education, housing, health and safety, that help transition people from surviving to thriving.

Over the past two years in particular, we’ve seen how important the park has been for our  health and wellbeing. I want to work with our talented team, as well as our community, to continue to lean into that and think about more opportunities for New Yorkers to access health services in the park. There is widespread evidence of the positive health impacts that come from being in nature, and I’m interested in building upon that to establish connections between our green space and access to health care and social services.

You’ve had a long history with parks and green space in the area. What does it mean to you to be returning to this field?

I’m incredibly honored to be coming back to the parks world, especially during this moment in time when New Yorkers have a renewed appreciation for the value of open spaces. I grew up in New York City’s parks and this work is incredibly personal for me.

Since leaving the parks world, I’ve had a kid, which has added a new dimension to how I use open space. As a parent, it’s so important for my son to grow up in Prospect Park and have a connection to nature as part of his experience growing up in New York City. I am also grateful for how much more awareness there is about climate change and the ways in which individual actions have an impact on our global environment. I look forward to being back in a community with people who inherently understand that core value and are committed to being part of the solution.

How do you define success for the Alliance?

I think success can be defined in small and big ways. As an organization, it’s important to me that we have clear organization-wide goals that everyone can feel a connection to and support from their vantage point. Those goals should be informed by individual goals for each area of focus in our work, such as maintaining a certain level of excellence for our forest restoration work, or reaching a certain number of young people through our environmental education programs.

At the end of the day, it is most important to me that we have a clear focus for the year and work toward reaching our goals. I see my role as helping to be a galvanizing force that holds all of the goals together and helps to chart out a new strategic plan for Prospect Park’s next chapter. I look forward to working with our team and with park users to develop our new strategic plan.

What is a favorite memory you’ve made in Prospect Park?

This is such a hard question! I’ve had so many important memories in Prospect Park that it’s hard to choose just one. I got engaged on the steps of the Picnic House, my son learned how to ride his scooter right by Vanderbilt Playground, we’ve made snow angels and snow people…so many amazing things happened in my life in Prospect Park. I would say there isn’t just one memory but rather decades of wonder and love for such a beautiful and sacred space.

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Mellon Grant Awarded to ReImagine Lefferts

Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains the park in partnership with the City, has received a prestigious $275,000 Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation to advance its ReImagine Lefferts initiative, which seeks to re-envision the mission and programming at the park’s historic house museum to recognize its role as a site of dispossession and enslavement, and explore the stories of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking whose unceded ancestral lands the house rests upon and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family.

The Alliance will engage the public around this initiative with a Community Conversation on Saturday, February 11, 2023, from 1-4 pm, at the Prospect Park Boathouse.

Learn more and RSVP for this free event.

“ReImagine Lefferts is a critical initiative for the Alliance, and we are greatly appreciative of the Mellon Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work, and providing the funding to bring this project to fruition,” said Morgan Monaco, Prospect Park Alliance President. “This project is an important step of many to help to heal deep-seated wounds from our nation’s past, and help anchor the narratives of those who have traditionally been silenced. The work we are undertaking at the museum would not be possible without those who came before us, and we look forward to partnering with and supporting the many civic leaders and organizations who have led the way in the Brooklyn community over the past many years.”

Lefferts Historic House is an 18th-century Flatbush farmhouse and New York City landmark, jointly operated by Prospect Park Alliance and the Historic House Trust. The farmhouse was originally located just blocks from the park (563 Flatbush Avenue near Maple Street) and moved in 1917 to its current site in the park’s Children’s Corner, home of the Prospect Park Zoo and Carousel. The museum features period rooms, indoor and outdoor exhibits, historic artifacts, historical object reproductions and working farm plots. Through hands-on experiences, cultural performances and imaginative play, visitors learn about the rich history of Brooklyn and also celebrate the diversity of our community today.

The Alliance is currently restoring the museum through $2.5 million in funding from the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council to make vital capital upgrades essential to maintaining this historic structure, which is more than 200 years old. The project has enabled the Alliance to replace the roof, restore the exterior of the building, and repair paths and drainage around the house.

When the museum reopens in mid-2023, the Alliance will present free pilot exhibits and programs that engage with the legacies of Indigenous dispossession and African enslavement in Brooklyn. By centering the interpretation on these foundational narratives, which are often underrepresented in the telling of American history, the Alliance seeks to create opportunities for civic engagement and open dialogues about contemporary issues around race and human rights.

The one-year, $275,000 Mellon grant will support the planning, development and execution of pilot exhibits and program materials for the museum’s new focus, and enable the Alliance to engage culture bearers, scholars, community leaders, educators, artists and museum professionals.

The grant builds upon work the Alliance has conducted over the past two years to research the history of enslavement at the Lefferts house and farm, develop partnerships with Indigenous groups, cultural and local history organizations, and pilot new programming on site. To date, the Alliance has identified the names of 25 people enslaved at the site between 1783 and 1827: some inherited, some born at the house, and some purchased by the Lefferts family. The Mellon Foundation’s support will enable the Alliance to further its research about the lives of these people and their descendants.

ReImagine Lefferts programming and partnerships to date include: the creation of Juneteenth Way, a partnership with NYC Parks; two exhibitions with the renowned photographer Jamel Shabazz and the non-profit Photoville; Writing the Land, a collaboration between poets and land trusts, that commissioned Black and Indigenous poets to produce work about Prospect Park; and other projects.

Learn more at

About Prospect Park Alliance
Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park, “Brooklyn’s Backyard,” in partnership with the City of New York. 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

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

c. Chinese-American Planning Council

Lunar New Year in Sunset Park

January 5, 2023

Sunset Park, a neighborhood located southwest of Prospect Park, is home to one of the largest East Asian communities in the borough, as well as a robust array of restaurants, businesses and public gathering places. As we approach Lunar New Year on Sunday, January 22, the biggest holiday of the year in many Asian communities, Prospect Park Alliance chatted with Steve Mei, Director of Brooklyn Community Services at the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), a member of the Prospect Park Community Committee, about some of his favorite spots to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.

The CPC Brooklyn Community Center is a longtime resource for the Sunset Park community, providing language access, immigration legal support, job development, mental health services, benefits support and more to ensure that residents have the tools and resources to achieve sustainable economic sufficiency.

The CPC Community Center plays a key role in ringing in the Lunar New Year. Says Mei about the holiday goings on:

“Some of my favorite ways to celebrate are to walk through the neighborhood and watch, hear and listen to the roar and drumbeats of lion dances throughout the community.” Lion dances are traditionally used to ward off bad luck and bring in health and prosperity. “It’s always great to see all the colors, traditional outfits and the festivities. I also enjoy going to visit friends and families to ‘bai nian,’ meaning to reconnect and greet friends and families to ring in the New Year.”

In the coming weeks, CPC will present a couple of community events to celebrate the Lunar New Year. On Saturday, January 28, CPC and Child and Parent Relationships will co-host a Lunar New Year Event in Sunset Park (the neighborhood’s namesake park) at 11 am. The event will feature activities and fun for all ages including a traditional lion dance, performances, giveaways, interactive games, raffles and contests. The celebration continues on Saturday, February 4, with Lunar New Year calligraphy, arts and crafts and trivia for prizes at New Utrecht High School, in collaboration with community partners from throughout South Brooklyn.

CPC’s 2020 Lunar New Year’s Celebration courtesy of Chinese-American Planning Council.

For those looking to grab a bite to eat while you celebrate and explore the area, Mei recommends a stop at Park Asia, a traditional Cantonese style restaurant and banquet hall that includes some of the area’s best dim sum. Another must-try is Chuan Tian Xia, one of the top-rated Szechuan restaurants in the neighborhood. During this chilly time of year especially, a hot pot meal with friends and family is a go-to. One of Mei’s favorites, Lao Jie Hot Pot, serves something for everyone to escape the cold with a menu of meats, seafood and veggies.

Park Asia and Chuan Tian Xia photographed by Laura Robinson, Prospect Park Alliance.

Year-round, Sunset Park is rich in culture and home to a diverse immigrant community. Mei suggests a trip to explore the neighborhood’s temples, and recommends trying the many different cuisines Sunset Park’s Chinatown has to offer. Sunset Park, the namesake park, is a community resource, beloved by people from a diverse array of backgrounds from all over the community.

Sunset Park photographed by Laura Robinson, Prospect Park Alliance.

Whether ushering in the Year of the Rabbit or visiting at any time of year, make sure to explore nearby Sunset Park’s restaurants, gathering spots and events to enjoy one of the vibrant communities surrounding Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Meet the Park Youth Reps

November 8, 2022

If you’ve stopped by the Prospect Park Audubon Center this year, you may have encountered the center’s six Park Youth Representatives (PYRs) in action, leading nature walks, promoting environmental education, sharing fascinating information about the center’s animals, park nature and history. Prospect Park Alliance’s Park Youth Representative program offers seasonal employment to high school students and introduces a budding generation of park advocates to careers in environmental and museum education. In addition to engaging park goers at the Audubon Center, Youth Representatives also typically work at the Lefferts Historic House, which has been temporarily closed for restoration until May 2023. This year marks the 20th year of the Park Youth Representative Program in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

“The Park Youth Representative Program engages an eager-to-learn, inspired team with diverse mindsets, interests and backgrounds.” says the Audubon Center’s Public Programs Manager, Camilla Wilson, who oversees the group of Youth Representatives. “With their support, the Alliance offers environmental education programming that is relatable and fulfilling to park visitors.”

Park Youth Representatives engaging community members at Pop-Up Audubon over the summer. Photo courtesy of Camilla Wilson, Prospect Park Alliance, Public Programs Manager.

This year’s cohort includes six students from local Brooklyn high schools, each with a unique perspective and set of experiences that they bring to the role. “My favorite experiences are the team building exercises. I have gotten to know my team better and made friends with them.” says Barbara, a first-time PYR. The group has also fostered extensive leadership skills throughout the season. Says first-time PYR Lyric, “A highlight of the program is leading Pop-Up Audubon and the independence I feel when setting up the materials. I’ve enjoyed being able to give visitors information they may not have known about the park.”

The program also offers youth the opportunity to delve into projects and gain first-hand experience in environmental education careers. “I have liked getting hands-on with designing exhibits,” says first-time PYR Gesmaily. “Getting closer to the animals has also been one of my favorite aspects. This hands-on experience isn’t something I’ve found at other jobs.” Another first-time PYR, Erica, says an important part of her time as a youth rep has been getting to know Prospect Park and seeing its ecology in a new light. “I always used to come to the park and I had no idea about the different plants. I’ve learned so much about the park by being a Park Youth Representative.”

Park Youth Representatives teaching youth about the Audubon Center’s Albino Rat Snake as part of the center’s weekly ‘Nature Exploration’ and ‘Animal Encounters’ activities at the Audubon Center. Photo courtesy of Camilla Wilson, Prospect Park Alliance, Public Programs Manager.

The Audubon Center’s 2022 weekend programming ends on November 27, so make sure to stop by soon to see the Park Youth Representatives in action. The Audubon Center will be open during Public School Holidays through February, with the exception of November 24 + 25 and December 25 + 26.

c. Martin Seck

New Prospect Park-Inspired Poetry

Six new poems inspired by Prospect Park are the result of Prospect Park Alliance’s partnership with Writing the Land, which connects poets with land set aside for people and nature. The partnership fosters collaboration between the environmental and creative communities.

Earlier this year, Prospect Park Alliance commissioned three poets to produce work about Prospect Park and share their work with the Brooklyn community: Black poet Rachelle Parker and Native American poets Michaeline Picaro and Opalanietet. The recently published anthology, Writing the Land: Windblown I, features their work and was celebrated at a reading at the Prospect Park Boathouse in October. Poets from across the country joined Prospect Park Alliance to read poems and discuss relationships among the communities and lands of Prospect Park, the arts and the environment as a whole.

“Partnerships with urban lands are new for Writing the Land, and we are thankful to Prospect Park Alliance for being such accommodating and generous hosts,” says Writing the Land Director Lis McLoughlin, PhD. “Our reading at the Boathouse was an extraordinary opportunity to bring attention to the importance—for city-dwellers and for visitors—of lands set aside for people and nature. We had a great time reading in this gorgeous place, and were grateful to experience firsthand Prospect Park as a welcoming haven for people to connect with nature in the midst of the city.”

This partnership is a stage for diverse voices to engage in a dialogue about the park and its history, an important part of Prospect Park Alliance’s community engagement work. The collaboration, while embracing the park as a whole, connects to the Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts initiative, which seeks to re-envision the mission and programming of the park’s historic house museum to recognize its role as a site of slavery and to elevate the voices of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked the land, and the Indigenous people who were forced to leave their ancestral lands at the time of Dutch colonization.

“Our partnership allowed us to leverage the power of poetry to share perspectives on the lands that we sometimes take for granted,” says Maria Carrasco, the Alliance’s Vice President of Public Programs. “Poetry is a form of activism and has the ability to be healing and transformative. It can pose difficult questions, offer new perspectives on the world and help establish a sense of community. Joy Harjo, the first Native American United States Poet Laureate, expressed that ‘everyone’s behavior, or story, affects everyone else…we each need to be able to tell our stories and have them honored.’ Honoring experiences can lead to healing; that in turn, can forge friendships, partnerships and collaborations based on telling authentic stories from the past and present.”

Black poet Rachelle Parker and Native American poets Michaeline Picaro and Opalanietet spent several months visiting Prospect Park and creating poems inspired by the land—reproduced below. Each poet brings a unique perspective to their work and approach to Prospect Park.

From left to right: Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet, Rachelle Parker

Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet and Rachelle Parker’s work about Prospect Park and the full Writing the Land; Windblown I anthology can be previewed and purchased online at

Free Land Exists in Brooklyn

By Opalanietet

A land birthed free, sculpted by Creator
Utilization of ice pick, remnants of glacial ridge still seen
This land that still is Lenapehoking.
We give thanks to the Marechkawieck, we give thanks to the Canarsee
Which without their stewardship, this oasis never could have been
This land that still is Lenapekhoking.
Freedom is to roam, freedom is to play, freedom is to choose to stay
To be free with this land, we have no landlord, we have no king, or queen
This land that still is Lenapehoking.
Stolen, divided, quarantined for privatized use
Reconfigured, reimagined, a public space so green
This land that still is Lenapehoking.

A Damselfly Is Not A Lady Dragonfly

By Rachelle Parker

They are their own kind.
Gliding across lakes. With their
own moms and dads, children.
Pretty. Wings iridescent. Knitted.
Delicate. Filigree. Whizzing
between boys and girls with
popsicles whose own wings are knotted
under skin the color of rasped
nutmeg wait to unfurl, soar,
catch sun, become heart
shaped and moms and dads with children,
dart, scuffle, stay safe
and alive amidst the genus,
amidst the skittishness.

We are Still Here

By Michaeline Picaro

We are still here
We are still here.
Not all are tucked away like parks in cities.
Close- knit, core communities and dispersed afar in cities block.
Outdated History needs correction, NY, NJ, CT, MA, RI, we are still here.
Cities subjugate nature into insignificant pockets, it is still here.
Minuscule compared to its former honor, tucked away awaiting the unexpected wanderer.
They visit, enjoy or study, unearthing teachings of heart and spirit.
Nature is still here. We are still here, with teachings of heart and spirit.
We Native Americans are synergistic, onto parks of nature.
We are not gone, we are Resilience!
One of many Nations, Ramapough  Lenape Nation
We are still here.

c. Martin Seck

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Poetry Reading + Anthology Launch

September 30, 2022

This October, in celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, join Prospect Park Alliance for a range of events that celebrate the land, our natural environment, and community. This includes a poetry reading and anthology launch presented as part of Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts initiative to re-envision the mission and programming at the Lefferts Historic House Museum. The reinterpretation of the historic structure, an 18th-century Dutch-American farmhouse, will recognize its role as a site of slavery and will tell the stories of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked on the Lefferts farm and surrounding areas, and the Indigenous people of the Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the farm and park rests upon. By centering the narratives on those that are underrepresented in the telling of American history, the Alliance hopes that the museum will become even more reflective of and connected with the Brooklyn community and that it will provide opportunities for civic engagement and open dialogues about contemporary issues.

Lenapehoking Anthology Launch
With Joe Baker, Hadrien Coumans & Curtis Zuniga
Thursday, October 13 – 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Prospect Park Boathouse

On Thursday, October 13, In partnership with Prospect Park Alliance and the Lenape Center, Brooklyn Public Library celebrates the release of the Lenapehoking Anthology, coming out of its spring 2022 Lenapehoking exhibition, with historical essays, interviews, poems and paintings by leading Lenape and other Indigenous scholars, writers and friends, poets, linguists, composers & artists. Contributors to the anthology will read from their work al fresco in this iconic New York City park. Elegantly printed by Ugly Duckling Presse and BPL Presents, the Anthology will be available to attendees to take home. The Lenapehoking Anthology has been generously supported by the Accomplis Collective. Learn more about featured artists Joe Barker, Hadrien Coumans + Curtis Zuniga.

Writing the Land: Poetry Reading and Book Signing
Sunday, October 16 – 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Prospect Park Boathouse

Prospect Park Alliance partnered with Writing the Land, which connects poets with land set aside for people and nature, to commission three poets to produce work about Prospect Park and share their work with the Brooklyn community: Black poet Rachelle Parker and Native American poets Michaeline Picaro and Opalanietet.

Poetry readings will be held inside of the Boathouse as well as in natural areas nearby. Poets who have written for the park and others who wrote for protected lands across the country will be featured in the anthology being celebrated at this event. Readings will include poets from across the country who will read, discuss, and sign books. Join us as we host Writing the Land and local poets and explore relationships among the communities and lands of Prospect Park, the arts and the environment as a whole.

Indigenous People’s Day School Holiday in Prospect Park
Monday, October 10 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Prospect Park Boathouse
Enjoy family friendly programming in Prospect Park on the Public School Holiday on Indigenous People’s Day. Celebrate nature and expand your knowledge of the natural world around us.

Nature Exploration, 12–4 pm
Nature Around Us: 12–3 pm:  Enjoy different seasonal discovery stations and nature-themed activities that will introduce you to the plants, insects and animals that call the park home. The Lake and Lullwater are home to many plants and animals. Help us to test the water quality and investigate pond samples that are filled with living organisms.
Animal Encounter: 2–3 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s collection. This program starts promptly at 2 pm.
Family Bird Walk: 3–4 pm: Prospect Park is a stopping point for hundreds of bird species each year! Join us as we search for these amazing creatures and other nature around the park. Binoculars and bird guides are provided. This program departs from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s ReImagine Lefferts initiative and the history of the Lefferts Historic House.

Meet the Park Champion Mascot: Thelonious “Theo” Chipmunk

September 9, 2022

Prospect Park Alliance received over 1,000 name submissions and votes for the new Park Champion mascot, and we’re pleased to announce that the winner is…Thelonious “Theo” Chipmunk!

The name, which was submitted by multiple people, pays homage to the great NYC-based jazz musician, Thelonious Monk, who often played in Brooklyn. This chipmunk will help educate our community about how to be a #ParkChampion and important ways to keep the park green and vibrant. Thank you to all who participated in the naming competition!

As Prospect Park Alliance’s Summer of Stewardship continues, follow along as Theo shares ways to keep the park’s community of people, plants and wildlife safe and healthy with every visit to Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Learn more about how you can become a Park Champion and help the trees, birds, wildlife, and community of Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Explore Kensington’s “Little Bangladesh” with Shahana Hanif

August 9, 2022

Looking to explore the vibrant communities that make Brooklyn’s Backyard a melting pot of cultures from around the world? Prospect Park Alliance chatted with Council Member Shahana Hanif, the first Muslim woman elected to City Council and lifelong Kensington resident, to learn about her go-to spots on Church Avenue west of Ocean Parkway, a stretch known as “Little Bangladesh” for its vibrant and tight-knit South Asian community.

Communities and cultures are defined by their food and their gathering spaces, so we start our exploration with some of the must-visit restaurants and shops in the neighborhood. Sonia Cafe, located on Church between Ocean Avenue and East 5th Street, is a woman-owned restaurant that opened during the pandemic. The cafe is known for its Pakistani snacks and street food, including what Hanif has deemed the best fuchka in New York, a fritter stuffed with chickpea and potato, served with tamarind water. A few blocks west on McDonald Avenue just off Church is Radhuni Sweets + Restaurant, which was founded by Shahana’s dad and another neighbor, and is now under female ownership, which has her all-time favorite breakfast wrap: fresh chapati, spiced scrambled eggs and aloo bhaji, a potato dish. The restaurant is also known for its seafood. Across the street is Suchana Supermarket, where from late spring through early summer sells the neighborhood’s freshest jackfruit, the national fruit of Bangladesh.

Suchana Supermarket and Radhuni Sweets + Restaurant photographed by DeSean McClinton-Holland for

Once you have fueled up, it is time to visit some of the neighborhood’s public spaces. Avenue C Plaza, located on McDonald Avenue at Avenue C, holds a unique position in the neighborhood’s history. “Kensington lacked open spaces and plazas for decades and when the community came together to reclaim this vacant lot, it opened up a whole new world,” said Hanif. The plaza has hosted art installations, iftar dinners during Ramadan, honored the dead during Día de los Muertos, and much more in a space that was previously unused for years. “The best part is also that neighbors did this! This wasn’t prescripted to the Kensington community, we took initiative and we made this space our own.”

Avenue C Plaza photographed by DeSean McClinton-Holland for

On public gathering spaces, including restaurants, parkways, and more, of vital importance to Hanif is accessibility, including both disability justice and the need to welcome people of all ages. For Hanif, Kensington’s Dome Playground, located a block south of Avenue C Plaza at Dahill and Cortelyou Roads, exemplifies this welcoming spirit with diverse groups and families from different communities sharing one space. “It’s not just that it’s accessible to all different kinds of people, but that the playground itself has something for everyone,” said Hanif. “There is play equipment for children, benches for older adults and families, and workout equipment for younger adults. It is intergenerational by design and that’s why it’s more than just a place to play, it’s a meeting point for the community.”

A few blocks east of Little Bangladesh is Ocean Parkway, which stretches from the south end of Prospect Park to the waterfront at Brighton Beach is another longtime central gathering spot for Kensington residents. It is known as the oldest bikeway in America, and is often the route Hanif takes to walk or bike to Prospect Park.

Ocean Parkway photographed by DeSean McClinton-Holland for

As an avid user of parks herself and as a next-door neighbor to Brooklyn’s Backyard, we had to ask Hanif about her favorite destinations in Prospect Park: “The park is such a magical place and every time I’m there, I feel like I discover a new section that I want to explore and take in.” Among her favorite spots in the park are the Boathouse and the Endale Arch for its ability to make park-goers feel like they’ve left the city and entered a new world through an architectural passageway.

Hanif in-action in Prospect Park. Photo courtesy of Shahanah Hanif’s team.

Hanif also shared a love of the Prospect Park Lake, reachable from the neighborhood by the Park Circle Entrance, which she visited often as a child and still to this day. “There’s something special about the lake in the park and the wildlife. It’s quiet and serene, and a wonderful place to sit and relax after a walk around the park or curl up with a good book on one of the first cool days of fall.”

Next time you find yourself in Brooklyn’s Backyard, make sure to check out Kensington’s shops, restaurants, gathering spots that make Brooklyn such a rich melting pot for all communities.

Andrea Pippins

Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage in Prospect Park

May 4, 2022

Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month in Prospect Park with I AM caribBEING, JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE, BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project, and Prospect Park Alliance. Enjoy Caribbean film, live music, dance, wellness and much more during this cultural celebration for Brooklynites of all ages. All participating artists and practitioners have roots in Little Caribbean NYC, and hail from Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti and elsewhere.

I AM caribBEING is supported by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid and Showtime.

RSVP today for these upcoming events!

I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Rockers + Dre Island
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 7-10pm
Prospect Park Alliance and I AM caribBEING kick off Caribbean-American Heritage Month with the cult classic film, Rockers. The 1978 film offers a tale of struggle and triumph in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Protagonist, Horsemouth, knows all too well the difficulty it takes to get into the music business in Kingston. Although talented, he earns very little and hustles to make ends meet. As tension begins to build with the local mafia after they steal his motorbike, Horsemouth and his friends concoct a plan to bring their reign of terror to an end and bring justice the the people of Kingston.

Prior to the film, multi-talented singer, keyboardist Dre Island, hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, will join the celebration for a very special performance. Complex calls him “one of the most refreshing voices in reggae right now.” With his gravelly vocals and calm demeanor, he evokes a mystery and edge that gravitates reggae and dancehall fans alike. The versatile artist has collaborated with the likes of UK R&B singer Jorja Smith, contemporary reggae star Chronixx and Jamaican dancehall artists like Popcaan and Skillibeng. In June, he will release his sophomore album High Times, which follows his 2020 debut, Now I Rise.


ALERT: Canceled due to predicted sever weather, check back for reschedule date TBD.
I AM  caribBEING Prospect Park: Lean Strong Fast Hike
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 9-11am
Join I AM caribBEING and Prospect Park Alliance to learn to improve your fitness and wellness regimens with the Little Caribbean-based performance team, Lean Strong Fast. Attendees will be guided through the park on either a beginner or intermediate level hike-walk based on their comfort level. Bring out your sneakers and come join us in the park!


RESCHEDULED: Tribute to the Rhythm Workshop
Now Thursday, June 16 (was Sunday, June 12)
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 6-9pm
Join Prospect Park Alliance, JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE and BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project for a workshop in Prospect Park this June which gives tribute to The Rhythm Section, The Iron Men, and the other percussionists that create the dynamic rhythm section so essential to Steelpan and Calypso music. Participants will learn about the history and role of drummers through speakers and performances. All ages are invited to enjoy the workshop.


I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Juneteenth + One Love Little Caribbean Day
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 4-9pm
Join Prospect Park Alliance and I AM caribBEING for Juneteenth, I AM caribBEING style, with live performance by Grammy-Award winning Angela Hunte backed by Da Jerry Wonda Band, peer-to-peer gaming powered by Fun With Friends DJ sets by Gab Soul + Khalil and Little Caribbean artisan vendors.

Escape the excitement and enter the calming Rooftop Oasis showcasing local Black-owned self-care brands on the Boathouse’s Rooftop. Upon entering this haven, guests can choose their wellness adventure. From refreshing natural elixirs to essential oil blends for whatever ails you, Rooftop Oasis will take you there and bring you back to life.

Rooftop Oasis is curated by I DON’T DO CLUBS and TAKE CARE WELLNESS

I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Brukwine
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 2pm-2:45pm
Are you ready to wukkup and juk? Join I AM caribBEING and BRUKWINE for a high energy workout routine. This Caribbean inspired dance workout is sure to get your heart rate up, hips moving and thighs burning!

I AM caribBEING is supported by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid and Showtime.

NYC Parks / Daniel Avila

Alliance Breaks Ground on Parade Ground Fit

April 12, 2022

New York City Council Member Rita Joseph joined Prospect Park Alliance Interim President James Snow and community members to break ground on Parade Ground Fit. The project is a District 40 participatory budgeting initiative that won popular support from local residents. The $525,000 project transforms the southwest corner of the Prospect Park Parade Ground into a community space that supports health and wellness in the neighborhood.

Editor’s Note: find photos at  

The project will transform the southwest corner of the Prospect Park Parade Ground into a community gathering and gaming space. The area will feature new ping-pong tables, a refurbished petanque area and game tables. Additionally, new benches will be installed and the tree-filled area will be landscaped with new plantings.

“The opening of the Parade Ground Fit shows the power of Participatory Budgeting. When communities are able to directly decide how their money is spent, real improvements are made. That’s why I am so excited for our neighbors to be able to use this PB project,” said New York City Council Member Rita Joseph.

“Parade Ground Fit is an exciting project that will create a beautiful space for all New Yorkers to gather and enjoy. During the height of the pandemic, our outdoor spaces were vital for communities, especially those who simply wanted some fresh air,” said Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Fred Kreizman. “This project delivers on just that, and we’re thrilled for New Yorkers of all ages to enjoy a game of ping-pong with the new game tables.”

“We are excited to partner with Prospect Park Alliance and break ground on the new Parade Ground Fit, an area dedicated to adult fitness complete with revamped petanque courts and new ping-pong tables. We know how important access to health and wellness is to all communities,” said NYC Parks Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Martin Maher. “We look forward to the completion of this project and to celebrating what this new resource will mean to the neighborhood.”

“This corner of the Parade Ground will be a great neighborhood enhancement, and builds on our Adult Fitness Area in the northeast section of the Parade Ground, which was also funded through District 40 Participatory Budgeting, and the nearby Kensington Dog Run,” said James Snow, Interim President of Prospect Park Alliance. “Thanks to the support of local residents and Council Member Joseph, the Alliance is looking forward to bringing the community’s vision for this space to life.”

The Prospect Park Parade Ground is one of Brooklyn’s most popular recreational areas, with 40 acres of baseball, tennis, soccer and football fields for local schools, leagues and clubs for children and adults, as well as basketball, netball and volleyball courts. The Parade Ground also features the Stewart Playground, the Prospect Park Tennis Center, the Kensington Dog Run, and the seasonal Time Out Snack Bar, a full-service concession stand with picnic and seating areas. The Parade Ground Fit project joins other recent improvements to the area, including the Adult Fitness Area and the Kensington Dog Run.

For more information about capital improvements in Prospect Park, visit