Sustainable United Neighborhoods was formed in 2018 by Jay Solly, CEO, and co-founder. In early 2019, Jay and his team joined the Bushwick Generator as the space’s core non-profit. Toby Moskovits discussed the history of the Bushwick Generator and her plans for the future. She explained the structure’s architecture and the components of each room. Jay spoke about his non-profit, Sustainable United Neighborhoods, which works to build communities and promote the green economy by raising public awareness, adopting green regulations, and educating employees. Also, SUN assisted and distributed around 700,000 food meals to individuals in need in the neighborhood. They also helped with the distribution of meals to households over the holidays. Residents of Bushwick, according to Jay, have a lot of unique ideas. Residents want to guarantee that their children and grandkids have relevant work opportunities.
SUN intends to bring public awareness and education. For example, their organized numerous food drives, clothing drives, and help with different projects, the organization looks forward to this year the city not just getting back to “normal,” but more supportive and equitable This doesn’t end there; Jay also invites us WHSAD students to have the opportunity to participate in their projects outside of our partnership. WHSAD students will gain practical experience in the workplace while also broadening their architectural expertise. With this opportunity students will get experience to work with a community leader and this can be something to go for a resume and portfolio.
The following are some narratives from other students who participated in the presentation.
The Bushwick Generator is a transformational project that combines rezoning innovation with cutting edge design, placemaking, and workforce development. It is a building whose design transcends aesthetic and serves to support a workplace that encourages innovation, collaboration and mentorship. Jay Solly and his team brainstormed to figure out how they can create a building that fits into the environment but also holds a modern office workspace. He speaks on things that he thinks would help boost the area for the better. For example, he says that he prefers to add greens to their buildings and make the area more clean and better for the environment. Personally, what I am taking from what he is saying is that in general they want to ensure that there is a cleaner environment with things that they create. Sustainability is key. They want their designs to be more than just a building. They want their designs to help bring people together and give them more motivation to “come to work” or “come to school”.
Toby Moskovits created the Williamsburg Hotel. As a realestate agent, she explains how she buys lands and has these ideas of what would be good for the community to then go through with these ideas. The process of creating these new ideas in terms of buildings came pretty quickly to her. She speaks on how she goes around town and finds areas that have a visually appealing area to create more places that can help encourage that appealing view. She also goes on to say that it is important to create these buildings closer to subway stations to help be more accessible to people who don’t have access to vehicles. In her stories she says that she has faced lots of competition and to deal with that, she offers more than the next person to get a better chance at buying the property to renovate it. As a real estate agent, Toby has learned how to work with architects and began to learn how to think like one.
-Aaron Ortega, Senior
In today’s meeting, our hosts, Toby Moskovits and Jay Solly, discussed many aspects of their design process and indulged us in their beliefs. One of which is the use of green energy and the preservation of buildings. Toby Moskovits mentioned how she did not want her design to overwhelm the neighborhood and said she took into consideration the voices of the older generation that was already living there. These values are very important to uphold since their ideals are rooted in clean and green architecture. Moskovits’ concerns about the people in this neighborhood are reflected in her company’s, Heritage Equity, vision. This philosophy is very important since it sets them aside from the many companies that exploit neighborhoods and ignorantly or knowingly participate in gentrification. Moskovits also mentioned she is preserving the warehouses in the building space rather than destroying them. One thing that I like about their presentation is that their goals are consistent across everything they say. For example, in this circumstance they implement the idea of adaptive reuse, which inherently has a positive effect on the environment.
Our host also spoke much about green energy as well as expanding green jobs and incorporating green energy into our society, like the Bushwick Generator. They plan to do this through education and public awareness. For example, Mr. Solly’s organization, Sustainable United Neighborhoods, hosted many food drives across the city. One of which provided over 3,000 NYC families with food during the holiday. Here is a link to the North Brooklyn Holiday Relief Coalition’s “Food for Families” Giveback initiative: North Brooklyn Holiday Relief Coalition Feeds Thousands This doesn’t stop there as our host offered us, those who are 17+, opportunities to get involved with their project. This will be a good opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in the work field and expand on their knowledge in community development. This will also benefit SUN’s goal as they are introducing the idea of many energy saving projects to students.
-K-Shima Noble, Junior
Today the class virtually met with Jay Solly, CEO of Sustainable United Neighborhoods. The meeting focused around the competition that SUN is hosting, an event on 215 Moore Street with the purpose of renovating a new and upcoming building in “Moore Town”. The competition is split between two parts. The first is to renovate the existing parts/rooms of the building. The second is to help construct the soon to be existing half of the building. The site in question uses both sides of the block that it’s on. Along with it being in close proximity to the L train, the idea of the project is also meant to introduce students/participants to a professional environment and work space.
SUN’s purpose is to “help local Brooklyn creative professionals grow and financially thrive, doing what they love.” SUN also hopes to support economic stability for neighborhoods such as Moore Town. SUN has partnered with programs such as Pratt Institute and The Bushwick Generator.
-Brandon Rosario, Sophomore
In today’s lecture, Jay Solly from the Sustainable United Neighborhoods discussed how we can create and design new buildings in sustainable ways. The mission of SUN is to help everyone in any way possible in North Brooklyn neighborhoods. From making food pantries available for everyone to designing new areas to stay sustainable, SUN is looking to cultivate a more equitable future. Additionally, Toby Moskovits, CEO of Heritage Equity Partners real estate development firm, discussed two locations she helped design using reusable materials and other sustainable methods that helped create a unique architectural look. They now plan on creating a rooftop garden on one of their buildings to produce food.
SUN was able to achieve a lot and an example is being able to create Funds for a “Market Master” for 4 Saturday “Free Farmers Markets” resulting in 3,000 households served. Another thing was throughout NYC, they helped serve 40k meals to undocumented and non-traditional people. They also delivered 400 tons of produce from regional farms and grocers. Right now one of their goals is to improve air quality & energy efficiency in the built environment.
-Aaron Romero Marin, Senior
I learned a lot about the non-profit organization, Sustainable United Neighborhoods (SUN), and its mission. Hearing Jay Solly and Toby Moskovits talk about their experiences and history with the Bushwick Generator Project opened my eyes to the steps they needed to take to make a project like that happen. There is a lot of competition for spaces and places that would be turned into new buildings and projects. Toby talked about how they wanted to keep the building true to the Bushwick neighborhood and environment. I think gentrification is a big problem especially in Brooklyn, and I appreciate how Jay Solly and SUN address that with their organization. Especially when a lot of developers are simply looking to profit without regards to the people living around their new buildings. Hearing them try to get everyone involved and their thoughts about how everyone around the building would be affected was insightful. They envisioned that the building would try to look similar to the warehouse that was being renovated.
I like that the non profit has environmental priorities and makes it a focus of their building. We need to be more “green” and sustainable for the future. However, one issue that I have is the incorporation of blockchain technology and ethereum. Jay only briefly mentioned it, but I think that they need to be very careful on how they want to use blockchain. As a concept it’s very promising, however in practice, blockchain is one of the most environmentally harmful products of the age of the internet. I wish to know how they will address this or if they have already. Besides that, the green rooftop is a nice idea and will be a good space for people to socialize and chill out in. More natural lighting is also very environmentally friendly and pleasing to the eye. Giving startups opportunities to rent out spaces will benefit the economy and local community, and I think is a good step to combat wealth inequality in the area. Paying a fair wage to workers is also amazing to hear. Overall I think their mission is important, and I support a lot of their decisions and ideas, and I can’t wait to visit it potentially.
-Damian Dzięgielewski, Senior
Jay Solly is the CO-founder and CEO of Sustainable United Neighborhoods, an organization he started in 2018. Jay and his team came on board in the Bushwick Generator, early 2019 serving as the anchor non for profit for the space. He wants to focus on economic development and policy making that actually does real work for humans and benefits our families. He wants to work together with a great developer in five years and wants to see his team continue to grow and do training programs in order to be a trusted authentic community partner throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Jay would like to lead an incredible workforce of innovations, a clean energy hub, thriving inside North Brooklyn and bringing green jobs to everyone who wants one. During the pandemic, SUN has moved two million pounds of food to pantries, provided PPE vaccine sites, and testing sites.
Mr. Solly and his team have also designed hackathons and green jobs summits. The reason why is because Toby Moskovits, our second guest, got a commitment to green roofs and renewable building practices, contemplating an energy efficient approach. This unique design that they are doing is absolutely energy efficient. Recognizing that he must keep sustainable wages in neighborhoods so that we can afford to live and work in the spaces that we’re from. Also wages are also a very important fact of his work. He wants low and medium income opportunities and is increasing that he focuses on implementation, public awareness, and workforce training.
-Brandon Herrera, Senior
In today’s meeting I got the chance to meet Jay Solly. Jay Solly is a Co-Founder and CEO at Sustainable United Neighborhood. The organization is looking to build communities and advance the green economy through public awareness, implementation, and workforce development. SUN has created many fundraisers that have been successful. For example, all the Free Farmers Market have helped many families in giving them food.
Jay Solly has been working with the Bushwick Generator. The Bushwick Generator is a community influenced innovation lab and creative hub in Brooklyn. Jay Solly has been with this organization for years. The project that they are doing this year is to renovate the building and to construct the other half of the building. In the meeting they were talking about the mindset that we have to have in renovating the building. Also we have to see how we will construct the other half of the building. The important thing that we heard is that Toby Moskovits had a hard time getting the land since some of the real estate agents also wanted the land. Toby ended up paying more than what the others were willing to pay. This is telling us that if you’re really passionate about a project, then you will find a way to partner up with someone to help you out to create the building. For WHSAD students we have not yet seen the building, however we are now allowed to go and make a site visit.
-Arely Cortes, Senior