Five neighbors, concerned with the demise of local independent small businesses, the increasing number of chain stores on Church Avenue, and the physical appearance of our shopping district, decided to form the Kensington Area Resident/Merchant Alliance (KARMABrooklyn) in April 2009.
Our blog began two months later. We write it as a community service. We don't charge anybody for anything. Listings on the Community Calendar and the Local Businesses and Services page are free.
KARMA's goal is to make Kensington a better place to live and to shop. We work on quality-of-life issues. We also want to attract more customers to our local businesses so that they will thrive. We listen to residents and merchants to learn what their needs are, and we plan appropriate projects.
We work with other residents, merchants, other local community groups, and elected officials.
We value the diversity of our community. We promote Church and McDonald avenues as "Your Place to Shop Around the World."
We cover Kensington and Windsor Terrace. We live here, we shop here, we go to restaurants here, and we work on volunteer community projects here.
- When we began meeting, we surveyed business owners to find out what their common needs and concerns were. They told us that they aren’t getting enough customers, their rent is headed toward being unaffordable, and the appearance of our streets and sidewalks needs to be improved.
- In June, we began holding community meetings. They are open to residents and business owners.
- We started the KARMABrooklyn Blog and the Kensington Area Community Calendar in June. We write about local small businesses and post announcements about programs, events, assistance, and legislation that can help them. We write about community events that are of interest to local residents and post them on our calendar.
- We created a two-page color brochure about our organization.
- We collected data for a Shop Local brochure, which will serve as a descriptive guide to our neighborhood’s retail stores, restaurants, and services.
- We helped the West Kensington Action Group (WKAG) organize a party to celebrate the opening of the triangular park in the middle of Church Avenue at 35th Street. The celebration featured local musicians, a storyteller, a troupe of young dancers, games for children, and refreshments. WKAG was the driving force behind the creation of this Greenstreets park in an area that was being used as a parking lot for buses waiting to begin their routes.
- We sponsored “Daffodil Day,” a day for local residents to beautify the tree pits on our main shopping streets by planting daffodil bulbs.
- We compiled a list of empty tree pits where trees can be planted and submitted it to the Department of Parks & Recreation through our New York City Councilmember’s office.
- We lined up local merchants to donate items to a raffle held by the Albemarle Neighborhood Association.
- We designed a flier for a sale being held by a local merchant and helped publicize it.
- To help a local restaurant owner obtain a beer and wine license, we created a petition for residents to sign.
- We attend meetings of Community Board 12 and speak up about issues affecting Kensington, and we do the same at meetings of the 66th police precinct's community council.
- We encourage people who write for the local print and online media to provide much-needed coverage for Kensington.
- We formed relationships with the elected officials who represent our neighborhood.
- We were part of the Organizing Committee for the 2010 Kensington World's Fair.
There's plenty more to do, of course, and we hope that residents and merchants will continue to join KARMA and work together to make Kensington an even better place!