It's been almost a year since the Kensington Area Resident/Merchant Alliance was formed, and we'd like to tell you more about what we are and what we've done.
KARMA is a group of local small business owners and local residents. We want to help small businesses in our neighborhood stay in business and improve the Kensington area shopping district and your shopping experience. This includes working on beautification and safety issues.
Our "official" boundaries are Church Avenue from 36th Street to Coney Island Avenue and McDonald Avenue from Caton Avenue to Ditmas Avenue--but we sometimes go a bit beyond those boundaries.
When we began meeting last April, we surveyed business owners to find out what their common needs and concerns are. 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, which are open to business owners and residents.
Also in June, we started the KARMABrooklyn Blog and the Kensington Area Community Calendar. We write about local small businesses, post announcements about programs, events, assistance, and legislation that can help them, and post events on the calendar that are of interest to local residents.
We created a two-page color brochure about KARMA.
We collected data for a Shop Local brochure, which will serve as a descriptive guide to our neighborhood’s retail stores, restaurants, and services.
KARMA helped the West Kensington Action Group (WKAG) organize a party to celebrate the opening of a 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 a 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, and made arrangements with Connie, the owner of Connie's Cafe, to provide coffee and muffins to participants.
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 speak up at Community Board 12 meetings.
We speak up at the 66th police precinct's community meetings.
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 are working in support of New York City's proposed Small Business Survival Act. The bill would create a program that establishes a fair environment for negotiations between small business owners and their landlords during the commercial lease renewal process, with the goal of determining lease terms that are reasonable.
There's more to do, of course, and we hope that business owners and residents will continue to join KARMA and work together to make Kensington an even better place.
Our blog is located at http://karmabrooklyn.blogspot.com.
We welcome your comments at karmabrooklyn @ gmail.com.