As a small business in the community since 2011, the operator of a public retail space since 2014, and a lead sponsor of the New York Restoration Project’s Haven Project, we have learned a lot about the South Bronx — both its rich and dynamic culture, as well as its long history of neglect and challenges — over the years.
We recently had the opportunity to hold a series of engaging meetings with leaders in this community, including members of South Bronx Unite, who have also collaborated on the Haven Project. Over beers, they shared with us their deep passion for, serious concerns with, and vision for the neighborhood.
We discovered that we share many of the same values and hopes for this community. In particular, improving the environment and the health and wellness of residents, workers, and visitors to the South Bronx is a key priority for both of us. The South Bronx is facing a very serious threat to its air quality due to the heavy emissions coming from a high volume of trucks coming in and out of the neighborhood on a daily basis from both businesses and city & state utilities. It has been given the unfortunate nickname of “asthma alley” since the residents of the South Bronx deal with a higher number of respiratory illnesses compared to anywhere else in the country, especially among children. Studies have shown that rates of death from asthma are 3x higher in Bronx County vs. the National average. This is not the type of air we want our customers to be breathing while they enjoy a beer in our outdoor space and it’s certainly not what we want future generations from the South Bronx to have to endure as they grow up in this community.
Another area of concern is the overall safety and comfort of pedestrian foot traffic in our neighborhood. The heavy volume of trucks and vehicle traffic can at times make walking around the neighborhood, including to and from our brewer, an uncomfortable and dangerous experience for many people. These walks can also be unpleasant due to the amount of garbage dumped illegally on the streets, along with litter. There are no city trash barrels or regular trash pick-ups, so we, unfortunately, see too much trash build-up on our neighborhood streets.
We have identified a few specific actions that we as a small brewery can act upon immediately to help improve on the aforementioned challenges in our community:
• Work with city government and offending companies to eliminate short-term and overnight parking of trash and other hauling companies’ trucks, and illegal dumping, with regular pick-ups
• Work with the city to install trash receptacles on all corners in our Port Morris neighborhood
• Identify key traffic safety hazards and lobby the city for safer pedestrian passage (e.g., crosswalk at Bruckner Blvd at 138th Street).
Going forward, we are committed to staying vigilant and working more closely with community leaders and organizations to identify additional opportunities where we, as a brewery and as individuals, can help to effect positive change in the community.
We founded this company on the idea that beer is uniquely able to bring people together and we built this brewery with the intent of the brewery being a space for the community to socialize and collaborate on ideas. We look forward to sharing a beer with you in the near future.
The Bronx Brewery Team