The big news first: 36 gardens were transferred to the NYC Parks Department over the winter holiday for permanent preservation. 17 of them were vacant lots that neighbors transformed with through 596 Acres’ facilitation. 15 had been offered for sale to housing developers for $1 last year and have now been decisively re-routed. You can read about the transfers and 596 Acres’ role in Hyperallergic (January 8, 2016), CityLimits / Brooklyn Deep (January 4, 2016) and DNAinfo (December 31, 2015). Congratulations to all the organizers and advocates who worked tirelessly to make our key neighborhood spaces indispensable and thank you to our collaborators in the Administration who listened! Let’s keep going!
WORK WITH US
We are looking for a designer to co-create a new web tool called NYCommons. The project is a collaboration between Common Cause/NY, Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center and 596 Acres, Inc. Details are here; this is a paid project and responses are due January 20, 2016.
We are also hiring a new Program Manager for our New York City Community Land Access Program. This is a paid full time position with benefits. Applications accepted until the position is filled.
NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Rockaway Beach, Queens – Neighbors saw our signs on a lot on Beach 84th Street and started organizing for a new garden in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Now they have teamed up with the compost masterminds of Edgemere Farm at Beach 45th Street Community Farm to get the support they need. Join them by reading the notes on the lot’s page or contacting Travis: firstname.lastname@example.org, 646 662 0585.
Jamaica, Queens – Katia says, “This lot is adjacent to a school where I work. We would like to build a school/community garden.” Join her: sign up for updates on the lot’s page or contact her directly: email@example.com, 570-269-1615.
East Side, Manhattan – Community Board 8 Parks and Recreation Committee is actively pursuing having this MTA land on East 63rd Street at 2nd Avenue set aside as a park. The MTA will vacate in 2018. Community Board 8 Parks and Recreation Committee meets to discuss on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 – 6:30pm at Brick Presbyterian Church, 62 East 92nd Street (Madison-Park), Carnegie Room. Contact Jill, firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for updates on the lot’s page.Brownsville, Brooklyn – Help make a new garden on private land! The family that owns this lot on Hegeman and Milford bought it to create a community garden. They are looking for collaborators. Contact email@example.com to be connected.
Gowanus, Brooklyn – Back in 2013, 596 Acres connected members of the President Street Block Association with the process they would need to follow to create a new garden formally through GreenThumb and made a presentation explaining the same to their community board; we also connected them to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Block Association took it from there. We’re happy that the City-owned lot on their block is now a permanent open space asset in the inventory of the NYC Parks Department. You can read about the preservation of the President Street Garden in DNAinfo. #35!
Citywide – In the wake of recent transfers to NYC Parks, Housing Preservation and Development is reviewing stalled applications to have these still-vacant lots also transferred for permanent preservation as GreenThumb gardens: Eden Learning Garden in Brownsville, P.S.335 Granville T. Woods Community Garden and Celestial Church Buffalo Center in Weeksville, Edgemere Coalition Community Garden in Rockaway, and Hooper Street Park in South Williamsburg. These organizers have been waiting over a year to hear back from GreenThumb.
Crown Heights, Brooklyn – Assembly Member Diana Richardson and Senator Velmanette Montgomery introduced identical bills at our urging last week aimed at protecting the Roger That! garden as a park. Both the Assembly (A. 8583) and Senate (S. 6093) bills contain this language: “The legislature hereby finds that it is necessary for a public purpose to procure [115 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn, Block 1233 Lot 1], through the use of the eminent domain procedure… for a state park and community garden to be managed by neighborhood volunteers through the New York City parks department green thumb program.” This is a great time to let Council Member Robert Cornegy know that you support the preservation of Roger That! as a community space: call the office at 718-919-0740. Gardeners will be spiffying up the place today, Saturday January 9, 11-2pm. Come by!
Crown Heights, Brooklyn – Save the date to come support the Imani I Garden in Landlord Tenant court as they resist an illegal eviction by the speculators who bought one lot of their garden at a post-tax lien foreclosure auction. A giant willow tree and the largest chicken coop in Brooklyn are what is at stake. The original debt that led to the foreclosure was $3,200; the speculator bought the property for $365,000 last year and now has it listed for $690,000. The gardeners are committed to resisting displacement via this flip. 596 Acres and Mohen & Segal LLP are supporting them. Join us in court to show you stand with communities against displacement: Friday, January 22, 10am at 141 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, Room 603.
Harlem, Manhattan – Organizers of Mandela Garden, who have been de-paving the space by hand and establishing a wildflower oasis are building support to have it transferred to the NYC Parks Department. The agency that has jurisdiction over the land has offered it to housing developers instead (responses are due February 23, 2016). Last year, fifteen of the active gardens recently transferred to NYC Parks had been offered just like this. Organizers got the City to change direction via letters, rallies, and awesome gardens. Get in touch with Rene Calvo to organize for garden preservation (firstname.lastname@example.org, (917) 275-6577).
The New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative is establishing a Steering Committee and continuing to build a financing cooperative to strike back at the displacement of key cultural, retail, cooperative and manufacturing space in NYC. Read the latest here. The next All Member meeting and opportunity to join is on January 28, 2016 at New Middle Collegiate Church on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street in Manhattan.
GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Partnerships for Parks’ Capacity Fund Grant program provides small grants of up to $5,000 to strengthen the outreach, membership, and program-planning capacity of community groups who care for their neighborhood parks, gardens and green spaces in all five boroughs of New York City. Project work must be on NYC Parks Department property. Good news for all these transferred gardens! Next deadline: February 1, 2016.
Remember: resident-led groups can apply for up to $3,000 in Neighborhood Grants from Citizens Committee for New York City to work on community and school projects throughout the city. Application Deadline: January 25, 2016.
Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.
Sweet sweet 16,
Paula, for 596 Acres