Pratt Conference Takes Aim at 'Green' Leaders of Tomorrow

 A mix of government officials, nonprofit staffers and environmentally conscious individuals attended a set of workshops and lectures at Pratt Institute on Friday, all with one goal in mind: Saving the planet.

"I think this is the beginning of a green master plan for Brooklyn," said Marilyn Gelber, president of Brooklyn Community Foundation, which along with Pratt and LISC, organized Greening From the Ground Up: A Sustainability Leadership Conference.

With a series of workshops on subjects like urban agriculture, energy-efficient homes and the best ways to engage young people, the event sought to unite the idealism of the green movement with practical solutions.

Judith Enck, a Brooklyn native and administrator for Region 2 of the Environmental Protection Agency, also sought to put a silver lining on some of challenges ahead—with issues like equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income residents, cleaning waterways like Gowanus Canal and the continued presence of PCB-containing light fixtures in schools promising to remain big issues in the years to come.

"Communities are looking to you for leadership," Enck told the crowd at Pratt Higgins Hall's auditorium.

One the attendees listening to Enck's speech was Christian Quashie, a Canarsie resident looking to start up a new program at City College to find green transportation alternatives in urban areas like his home borough of Brooklyn.

"We're gathering information so that I can bring something to the table and see if I can make a difference," Quashie said.

Despite lean times on the city, state and federal government level, Enck encouraged attendees to take advantage of grants to help usher in the long-awaited green revolution in Brooklyn.

One of the EPA grants includes a $125,000 "Citizen Science" program that enlists members of the community to gather environmental data.

For a full list of grants offered by the EPA in Region 2, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and six tribal lands in New York State, visit