A different Brooklyn
Active participation in decisions on local issues, strong commitment to the environment, careful monitoring of all commercial and industrial activity, forcing accountability on public bodies and deployment of natural assets for the public good-these powerful forms of social expression set North Side apart from much of the rest of Brooklyn. New York characteristics of pecuniary focus, material orientation and pre-occupation with privacy and individual pursuits, are highly diluted and even missing in some cases, when it comes to this locality.
North Side is an unlikely breeding ground for the kind of activism that lies at its heart. The pervasive citizen consciousness can escape detection as one drives through the neighborhood. Most buildings are more than 50 years old.
The first hint of North Side's unusual personality can be gleaned from the annual Bridges Waterfront Festival. This event involves people beyond the geographical limits of North Side, but the latter is close to the heart of the sponsoring and inspiring movement. Big business and the wealthy have held sway for long over the treasure of land that faces the Atlantic Ocean. The waterfront has been at the vanguard of social evolution and area development throughout the eastern seaboard of the United States. The Native Indians enjoyed fishing and living off the rich aquatic environment for centuries before the first Europeans arrived. Water transport and whaling took waterfronts to new heights of prosperity with plenty of jobs to go around. Many localities focused on providing summer vacations for the rich. The latter trend has continued to this day, but with extension to the middle-class and to professionals as well.
The Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods goes further than just one annual event. It has emerged as centers of power and influence and keeps a watch to prevent appropriation of available and valuable property by vested interests and lobbies that represent great financial strength in the private realm. This trend of active citizenship is repeated in other similar bodies that work in North Side, amongst other localities. The organization known as the Friends of the North Side keeps a vigil on all new development projects, while one called 'Neighbors against Garbage' focuses on solid waste disposal. It has prevented the expansion of a long-standing transit facility that had operated here for years. The explosion of night clubs and bars has been stemmed with the Sin-e even being denied a permit to serve alcohol. A manufacturing unit that spewed toxic fumes has been reprimanded and made to take remedial measures. Stay away from North Side if you are in anything that pollutes or disturbs the peace!