Volunteer into free concerts, films and tomatoes all summer

You can volunteer to do this at Northside. Photo courtesy of L Magazine/Northside Festival.

Remember when you used to give back (or at least pad your resume to be more attractive to non-profits after college)? Now we’re like: “Volunteer? You crazy? I’m an intern/artist/apprentice/blogger; I don’t get paid for my real work, why would I do MORE work for nothing?” Valid point. But there are loads of opportunities to pitch in at events you probably would be attending anyway and, bonus, you’ll get free admission, networking opps and sometimes even some cool swag. BurnedGreen gave us a roundup of some of the best volunteer gigs around Brooklyn this summer.


Bushwick Open Studios 2012 (June 1-3): Brooklyn’s massive sixth annual arty party weekend will feature +500 local artists in venues, studios and art spaces. Meet other artists, curators, collectors and other creative professionals. Here’s how to get involved.

Northside Festival 2012 (June 14-21): The fourth annual celebration of Brooklyn and what’s next in music, film, art, and entrepreneurship takes over venues, art spaces and the streets of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Volunteers get a free badge ($70 value) in exchange for 3 four-hour shifts throughout the seven days of the festival. Apply here or email [email protected] for more information.

Rooftop Films (May 11-Aug 18): The urban equivalent to the drive-in but with amazing views. Most of the locations are in Brooklyn this year including their HQ at the Old American Can Factory, a 130,000 square foot, six-building manufacturing and arts complex along the Gowanus Canal. Fill out the volunteer application here or email [email protected].

SummerStage: Waterfront shows are moving to Williamsburg Park, but there will still be music and other cultural events at East River State Park and other parks throughout Brooklyn courtesy of City Parks Foundation SummerStage. Spots are filling up quickly for SummerStage volunteers. Email [email protected] for more information. Check out NYC Partnership for Parks for other ways to help keep the city’s 750+ parks beautiful.

Williamsburg International Film Festival (Sept. 20-23): The volunteer job description seems pretty intensive (more like an internship), but the experience in producing a film festival from the ground up is a major resume builder.

Open Space Alliance: OSA just announced the first round of summer concerts at their new location in Williamsburg Park (50 Kent) including Refused, “Sublime,” Cake, My Morning Jacket, and Pretty Good Friends featuring OK Go. Although there’s sparse info up on the website, OSA assures us that they will be offering free admission to shows for those who volunteer to clean up after concerts again this summer. More details forthcoming. Follow them on Facebook and check back on the website for updates.

Celebrate Brooklyn! (June-August): Prospect Park Bandshell hosts 25-30 music, film and dance performances throughout the summer. Volunteers are needed for approx. four hours per performance to assist staff with greeting attendees at entrance gates, distributing programs, community outreach and publicity, conducting surveys of attendees, working information and merch booths and cleaning up grounds after shows. Volunteers are “encouraged” to commit to 10 performances. Volunteers get 10% discount on all food and nonalcoholic beverages purchased onsite during your shift, 10% off all Celebrate Brooklyn! merch, free Celebrate Brooklyn! volunteer t-shirt, and if you volunteer for a non-free Benefit Show (so far performances include Childish Gambino, Wilco, Dirty Projectors, M. Ward, Hot Chip, and Sigur Ros), you may be eligible for a free ticket to the show.

Williamsburg Walks! (June 9, June 16, June 23): This series of car-free Saturday afternoons on Bedford Avenue, presented by Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, encourages members of the community to rethink our public space and to offer a space to celebrate the neighborhood. For info on how to participate or volunteer, contact Ryan Kuonen, the event organizer @ the NAG office: Call 718.384.2248 (leave a message) or email [email protected].

Outside of Brooklyn, there are volunteer opportunities to work at the Randalls Island festivals Governors Ball (June 23 & 24), Electric Zoo (Aug. 31- Sept. 2) (probably. Their dude didn’t get back to me by press time. Check back on their website), and Catalpa Festival (July 28-29) (TBA follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates).


TASTE Williamsburg/Greenpoint (Sept. 9): This second annual North Brooklyn foodie festival is a fundraiser for Northside Town Hall Community & Cultural Center. Organizers are seeking committed volunteers who are passionate about food, drink, the arts and community building. The first volunteer organizing meeting is Thursday May 3 at 7pm at the offices of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) at 110 Kent Ave (@N. 8th). RSVP to [email protected].


Bend with your knees, people! Photo courtesy of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm.


Brooklyn Grange: This for-profit urban farm has one location in Long Island City (which hosts a brand new Bee Apiary) and two in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Email [email protected] or sign up for their mailing list for info about volunteer opportunities.

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm: The world’s first full scale rooftop farm welcomes volunteers to come learn how to sow seeds, compost and harvest seasonal crops on Sundays from 1pm-4pm.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Many opportunities available including administrative tasks, leading tours, manning information tables, mulching, pruning, planting and cataloging of dried specimens. Volunteers must go through an interview process. Apply here or contact Lou Cesario, Director of Visitor Services and Volunteers at 718-623-7260 or [email protected] for more information.

Join the Green Team at Brooklyn Bridge Park and/or Prospect Park.


Brooklyn Animal Resource Clinic: Love animals but your roommate doesn’t? BARC always needs dog lovers to walk the pooches rain or shine. No application process or scheduling necessary. Just stop by during one of the shifts: Mornings Tuesday – Saturday 9:30am to noon and evenings, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday only 5:30pm to 7:30pm. More of a cat person? They need love too. Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5pm.

Find out about volunteer opportunities all year long at BurnedGreen.

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