Gross, but gorgeous, Greenpoint

The neighborhood of Greenpoint, the surrounding Newton Creek, and the oil spill. Looks kind of like a bra, right? I live two blocks west of the right cup.

I’ve started research on a project proposal for an environmental journalism fellowship.  I’d like to make a radio documentary about the struggles of the Brooklyn neighborhood I live in, Greenpoint.  I spent part of this week at the Greenpoint Library (working alongside a dude chugging Mountain Dew from a 2 liter) gathering background information.   Here’s a rough summary of what the doc would be all about.

Greenpoint’s 40,000 residents live atop the largest oil spill in U.S. history.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the neighborhood’s bordered on three sides by Newton Creek.  It’s a four mile stagnant canal holding about 30 million gallons of spilled oil and raw sewage, covered in a fifteen foot layer of sludge.  Gross, but what makes things interesting is that Greenpoint has a way of growing on you.  It’s mainly Polish-speaking population enjoys high ranking schools, low crime rates, and a vibrant business district;  Nate Silver even named it the 5th most livable neighborhood in NYC.   Better yet, this fall the EPA gave Newton Creek superfund status and the state reached a $25 million settlement with Exxon Mobil to fund Greenpoint cleanup efforts.

My documentary would cover the history of the neighborhood, the legal and environmental battles residents have fought over pollution here, the current sentiments of Greenpoint residents, and the cleanup efforts.  I think the story is extra relevant right now given the recentness of the superfund designation and Exxon settlement, and the possible comparisons to last year’s BP spill.  I’ll submit my proposal in mid March, so will fill you in along the way.