Fort Greene

Michael Neckles

Michael Neckles, also known as Mike, is a city park worker at Fort Greene Park. As a part of his job, he is responsible for maintaining everything inside the park, and his duties involve lawn maintenance & care, litter clean-up, signage, etc. His passion for nature started when he was a little boy. He would spend all his time outdoors – playing sports and games on the grass. This respect for nature influences him greatly in his work in the park. He is able to do his job fully and with compassion for nature, the people and the animals. It lights up his day being able to meet new people, especially the children that come to the park. Seeing them enjoy their time outdoors reminds him of his childhood self and is a big reason why he chose to be a city park worker. Riding his motor every morning, making his rounds, caring for the park and the people in it, is what makes Mike a true community hero.

As a proud Rastafarian, his lifestyle and belief system rest on symbiotic and natural principles. He doesn’t eat any form of meat & his diet consists mainly of herbs, plants & fruits. Live and let live is one of his many guiding principles. He enjoys talking to people and asking them how they are. He believes in the power of kindness and doing your job well. He wants to make people’s experiences in the park pleasant and enjoyable because he values it as a sacred community space. Though there may be hard days once in a while, he leans on his staff and the camaraderie of the neighborhood to keep doing what he does best – leading by example. Knowing the numerous problems that plague the world and our society can be disheartening but Mike’s approach is to be present and engaged in your community; to be the change you want to see.  As his saying goes, “live, be peaceful, and be loving,” and Mike does this everyday no matter what and we should thank him for that more often. 

Portrait by

Francesca Magnani

Francesca Magnani is a Brooklyn based Italian photographer, writer, teacher, and translator. Born and raised in Padua, she arrived in NYC as a Fulbright graduate student in 1997. Since then she has been telling in words and images the stories that move her while she chronicles her own life. Her work has been acquired by The Brooklyn Library, ICP, The Museum of The City of New York, The Smithsonian Museum.

Text by

Jing Lin

Jing Lin is a rising sophomore who wants to get more in touch with the Fort Greene community through visual arts, music, writing, and communication.

Meet more community heroes