In MYCOOP Stories: Grower, we ask interesting people about themselves and their places. In our latest installment, we talk with Rodrigo, who enjoys urban farming in his Brooklyn community.

Name: Rodrigo
Age: 37
Where are you from: Born in Columbia and arrived thirty years ago in the USA.
Where do you live: Bushwick, Brooklyn.
What do you do/What is your profession?

I do landscaping and painting.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your hobby.

I created a community garden in Bushwick with a group of friends. It started five years ago when we had an art gallery in the basement of the building. The art gallery was the place where we hung out together, presented our art, came up with ideas and discussed issues around what was happening to us as a community. It was a cool spot. From there we came up with other ideas of what we wanted to do. I am personally into plants and vegetable and always wanted to have a garden. We consequently started to look for places and spot and we found an empty lot on the same block down the street. This was a private lot run by an organization and left abandoned since the riot that happened in the 70’s. It took us 8 months to find the owner and another year to convince them. Finally they gave us the keys and we were able to start cleaning the lot. Many people were involved, most of them from the building. We took the name of Eldert street garden association and it has been 5 years now that the garden is running. The next step is to turn the garden in a nonprofit association because it is important to get the sense of security for the project. Bushwick is getting more and more desired and the lot could be at any point sold. We start to feel some pressures, so before anything get too severe we try to get our self as organized as possible.


What do you like the most about the building?

I like the people and the space itself. The apartments are designed in a way that is not stifling. You can create activities and organize the space in different way than the obvious or just the norm. That is exciting to me.

What would you want to improve in the building?

The windows get stuck when it is freezing outside. They should be fixed and I hope they will do it before the next year. Besides that, I think that even if the communication between the neighbors is decent and could be improved. However, the main issue is the relationship with the management. This is something to improve. They change things in the building without consulting the tenants and a recent example is the “buzzer” at the entrance. They changed it and put a brand new one. However, this one is really noisy and we hear it all the time whenever someone is buzzing. Those kinds of things could be more accommodating to the tenants, easy to manage and affordable for the management company if there was something like a meeting with everybody in the building. They should at least ask our opinion before changing things.


How do you communicate with your neighbors?

I like walking over and knocking on the door. Face to face– that’s how I deal with my neighbors.

Is there anything you wish you knew before moving in?

I wish I knew more history about my building. There are a lot of funny stories from local people who live outside the building. People remember that their parents and grandparents used to work here because it was a factory prior to becoming a residential building.

What quote would you like to share with us?

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” from Mahatma

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