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News from the Acres - May 21, 2015

21 May 2015
spring into action: future and existing projects to support!

HELP KICK OFF SPRING BY SUPPORTING THESE GARDENS AT RISK!
Harlem Valley GardenHarlem Grown, and Electric Ladybug Garden are three Harlem gardens within Manhattan Community District 10 that are on Housing Preservation and Development's list of 181 City-owned properties available for purchase for $1 by developers (described here). On Tuesday night, the Board toured these three gardens at risk to observe what valuable and thriving community resources they are(That's some of the crowd at Electric Ladybug pictured above!)TONIGHT, Thursday, May 21st at 6:30pm the Board's Land Use Committee will vote decide whether to write a letter of support for these keeping these gardens in place! Head over to show your support: 215 West 125th Street (between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevards) on the 4th Floor. There are over a dozen other gardens at risk of being sold for $1 throughout the City! Click here to learn how to contact your elected officials and let them know you want these spaces protected!

Stand in solidarity with Maple Street Community Garden (237 Maple Street near Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn) on Tuesday, May 26th at 9:30 am, at Kings County Civil Supreme Court at 360 Adams Street, Brooklyn, Room 441. Housing Urban Development LLC, the guys who claim to own the garden lot at 237 Maple Street, have filed a motion to "quiet title." If that's upheld, it means that their claim to ownership can no longer be legally challenged, regardless of any irregularities in the original filing. Learn more about the case here, and click here to read about all the fun stuff happening in the garden. (That's some of their young, carrot-harvesting members, pictured at the bottom of this newsletter!)

NEW MAP FEATURE!
When you take look at a specific lot or garden page on LivingLotsNYC.org, you'll be able to tell if it's part of an Urban Renewal Plan. There will be a link on the page that says "Urban Renewal" and can take you straight to UrbanReviewer.org to learn more about the plan that encompasses that neighborhood and to find out what was planned for each specific lot!

LAST CHANCE TO APPLY: WE'RE HIRING AN NYC COMMUNITY LAND ACCESS PROGRAM ORGANIZER!
Do you want to play a key role in helping neighborhood groups navigate the process of accessing land? We're looking for a key team member to help with program management, outreach, and land access organizing for 21 hours a week! Click here for more details on what the job entails, what we're looking for in an applicant, and how to apply. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 27th at 12 pm.

"WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR LAND?" AT IDEAS CITY 
As a part of IDEAS CITY on Saturday, May 30th, from 12 pm to 6 pm 596 Acres, Deborah Berke Partners and GRT Architects will offer self-guided audio tours focused on exposing the mechanisms residents of the Bowery and Lower East Side can and have used to affect development in their neighborhoods. Visit Cooper Square Cooperative, Elizabeth Street and Siempre Verde Gardens, and El Jardin de Paraiso. The tour kicks off at Sara D. Roosevelt Park at the intersection of Chrystie and Stanton Streets.

ACTIVE DESIGN FOR SCHOOLS
BSCAH Saratoga Farm is a garden stewarded by two schools and the Bedstuy Campaign Against Hunger in Brooklyn that 596 Acres helped to access their space in 2013. They're listed in The Partnership for a Healthier NYC's Active Design Toolkit for Schools on Page 26 as a "success story." Awesome!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Bushwick, Brooklyn - For over a year neighbors have been trying to uncover the details from the community board and Parks Department about the design plans for the park-to-be at the corner where Bushwick Avenue meets Beaver Street. 596 Acres is helping to gather letters from local groups expressing a need for neighborhood input to pass along to Council Member Antonio Reynoso's office, who is planning to meet with Parks about the creation of this exciting new park. If you're affiliated with a school, religious institution, nonprofit, or civic association in the neighborhood that would like to help, contact Mary at mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Morrisania, Bronx - The company that owns and manages the properties on either side of the former Department of Transportation roadbed on East 159th between St. Ann's and Eagle Avenuesis completely supportive of neighbors stewarding the space and will speak to the DOT about how to make it happen! Email Victor, a neighbor from across the street, at maldonvic@aol.com or give him a call at 718-665-4281 to help plan the first neighborhood meeting.

Edgemere, Queens - Steve is a longtime Rockaway resident who leads the Franklin Avenue Civic Association of Edgemere. On Beach 43rd between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Drive (the same block as Edgemere Farm!) there are two lots that Steve would love to transform into another community growing space. If you'd like to help him organize, contact him atloc375@aol.com or 646-737-4996.

Harlem, Manhattan - Neighbors who are organizing to create garden and performance space onthe 17-foot wide lot at 174 East 108th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues headed toManhattan Community Board 11's Environment, Open Space, and Park Committee meeting last Thursday night. The board would love to see 100 signatures gathered supporting to the space before they issue a letter of support. No problem! Join the neighbors on Sunday, May 31st at 3 pm in front of the lot to go on a door-to-door signature-gathering adventure. Email John attriplemgarden@gmail.com or call Mary at 596 Acres at 718-316-6092 ext 3 if you have questions!

COLLABORATORS
The New York City Community Garden Coalition's monthly meeting is TONIGHT, Thursday, May 21st at 6:30 pm at Green Oasis Community Garden (8th Street between Avenues C and D, East Village, Manhattan). This is their first outdoor meeting of the year!

Mommies of Rockaway Parks United is hosting an It's My Park day at the Conch playground (Beach 49th Street and Beach Channel Drive, Edgemere) this Saturday, May 23rd from 11 am to 2 pm. There will be fence and bench painting and flower planting! All ages welcome!

Bullettrun is a collaborative performance group which uses Parkour (a movement discipline often described as skateboarding without skateboards) as a form of self expression to build self esteem and create leaders in communities lacking social, educational and economic resources. They are currently looking for a garden or park space to create a site specific performance and would love to offer maintenance work in exchange! See examples of the group’s work here and contact Nadia atnadialesy@gmail.com or 718-486-6252 for more information.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

yours,
596 Acres

We're Hiring a Community Land Access Program Organizer!

20 May 2015

Since 2011 596 Acres' Community Land Access Program has helped 32 groups transform vacant, City-owned pieces of land into community resources. Our online mapping tools makes information about public property available and easy to understand. We also engage neighbors by hanging up signs up on the fences and work with them to help realize community control over spaces.  As the organizer, you'll play a key role in helping neighborhood groups navigate the process of accessing land. Here's what you’ll do:


Program Management

  • Coordinate, collaborate, and strategize in tandem with Executive Director

  • Work closely with 596 Acres advisory committee, both as a staff support and strategic partners

  • Manage volunteers

  • Support development of organization’s programmatic work plan

  • Work with the Executive Director, governance board, staff and members to develop and evaluate organizing strategies

  • Generate new program ideas and work with staff and board to implement and carry out programming related to the organization’s priorities

  • Write the weekly News From the Acres

  • Develop print and web materials as needed

  • Foster a team-oriented, supportive, accountable work environment at 596 Acres

 

Outreach

  • Hang signs on fences of vacant lots City-wide

  • Lead workshops for various community based organizations and neighborhood groups

  • Table for 596 Acres at community events

  • Support and initiate relationship-building and cultivate meaningful collaborations with community leaders, local politicians, and community-based organizations

  • Represent the organization with local and state government officials, in the media, and with private organizations

  • Use social media as outreach and organizing tool

  • Help complete a summer outreach project to visit 7 community boards in districts with the highest concentration of vacant, public land to share information about 596 Acres' work, current neighborhood land access organizing efforts, and district-specific maps

 

Land Access Advocacy Organizing

  • Support the organizing efforts of local land access advocates around NYC by monitoring website activity and following up with active organizing groups regularly

  • Process and respond to new intake within 48 hours

  • Maintain our email-oriented database with extreme attention to detail

  • Stay current on process of application for license and leases through relevant city agencies for community use

  • Liaise with city agencies and intervene in direct community outreach when needed

  • Help complete a summer outreach project to visit 7 community boards in districts with the highest concentration of vacant, public land to share information about 596 Acres' work, current neighborhood land access organizing efforts, and district-specific maps

  • Facilitate monthly general meetings

Here's what we're looking for in an applicant

  • Extreme comfort with email and filing

  • Experience in and commitment to bottom-up organizing, grassroots leadership, and collective decision-making

  • Comfort with responding to email immediately within regular working hours

  • Comfort with flexible organizing schedule to accommodate community event needs

  • Willingness to travel throughout the five boroughs

  • Familiarity with City government processes (and willingness to learn more about them!)

  • Demonstrated ability to work in multi-racial, multi-lingual settings

This is part time (21 hours per week) position with benefits. Pay is $24,000 per year (negotiable if you do not want to take advantage of the benefits package). Our office is in Gowanus, Brooklyn; regular office hours are required.


To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to organizers@596acres.org by Wednesday, May 27th at 12 pm.

News from the Acres - May 14, 2015

14 May 2015
solar-powered cart needs a garden home!

Thanks for all who came out to the 596 Acres general meeting last Thursday night! It was a great conversation around Housing Preservation and Development's halt on issuing interim-use licenses for the creation of community gardens. We chatted about how gardens at risk can protect themselves and how organizing groups can forge ahead. The takeaway: strengthen your numbers! In addition to writing letters to all your elected officials, the best way to draw attention to your space is to have it be thriving and full of excited neighbors who truly value it! Whether you're campaigning for access or fighting to protect your space, we encourage you to hold a membership drive, throw a party to gather petition signatures, or paint welcoming signs (like the new Ten Neighbors Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn, pictured above at their first workday last Sunday)!

Stay tuned for info about the next 596 Acres general meeting taking place the second week of June, at a TBA garden location! If you'd like to host a 596 Acres meeting in your space contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

FIRST MEMBERSHIP MEETING OF THE NYC REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT COOPERATIVE
The first membership meeting of the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC) will be on THURSDAY, May 28th at from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at IATI Theater (64 East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, Manhattan on the 2nd floor). An REIC is way for people to pool money to buy buildings and land, and chose to own the what they buy and lease affordably! This meeting will give a report back on what happened two weeks ago at our first gathering, and encourage you to get involved! To learn more, click here.

WE'RE HIRING AN NYC COMMUNITY LAND ACCESS PROGRAM ORGANIZER!
Do you want to play a key role in helping neighborhood groups navigate the process of accessing land? We're looking for a key team member to help with program management, outreach, and land access organizing for 21 hours a week! Click here for more details on what the job entails, what we're looking for in an applicant, and how to apply. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 27th at 12 pm.

"WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR LAND?" AT IDEAS CITY 
As a part of IDEAS CITY on Saturday, May 30th, from 12 pm to 6 pm 596 Acres,Deborah Berke Partners and GRT Architects will offer self-guided audio tours focused on exposing the mechanisms residents of the Bowery and Lower East Side can and have used to affect development in their neighborhoods. Sites will include Cooper Square Cooperative, Elizabeth Street and Siempre Verde Gardens, and El Jardin de Paraiso. The tour kicks off at Sara D. Roosevelt Park (at the intersection of Chrystie and Stanton Streets), and physical maps, audio guides, and other visual artifacts will help tell the histories of each site and help visitors navigate among them.

596 IN THE NEWS!
Check out this great coverage from Care2 of our projects across cities!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Harlem, Manhattan - Join neighbors heading to the Manhattan Community Board 11 Environment, Open Space, and Parks Committee Meeting for TONIGHTThursday, May 14th at 6 pm at the Board's office at 1664 Park Avenue at West 117th Street, to ask for the committee's support to create a garden and performance space on the 17-foot wide lot at 174 East 108th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues. If you live in the neighborhood, head over to show your enthusiasm for a new community space! Extra bodies in the room make a big difference!

Edgemere, Rockaway - Last night neighbors and Paula from 596 Acres went to the Queens Community Board 14 meeting to speak with the board about the status of the proposal for a temporary garden on the lots at 357 Beach 43rd at the corner of Beach Channel Drive. Community Board 14's District Manager and Chair committed to having the board write a letter to Housing Preservation and Development as soon as possible, urging the agency to release the lots and allow the garden to move forward this season if possible. Hooray!

Morrisania, Bronx - At our fantastic 596 Acres general meeting last Thursday night we met Victor, a Bronx resident who is interested in a few different spots to create community space! His top pick is the large piece of land behind behind the middle school at Rae Street and St. Ann's Avenue, owned by the Department of Education. Victor has already reached out to the facilities office in charge of Bronx Schools and has been asked to email a letter of interest and intent to be discussed! Victor is also talking to neighbors about the former Department of Transportation roadbed on East 159th between St. Ann's and Eagle Avenues. Email Victor maldonvic@aol.com or give him a call at 718-665-4281 to help him work on campaigns for either of these sites!

Lots with Access
Lower East Side, Manhattan - Council Member Margaret Chin sent a letter to Vicki Been, the Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development asking that Siempre Verde(at Stanton and Attorney Streets) be protected by transferring their lots to the Parks Department. Thank you Council Member Chin! You can read the letter here!

Flatbush, Brooklyn - Q Gardens (at the corner of East 18th Street and Church Avenue) will be having a workday this Saturday, May 16th from 12 pm to 4pm to transport the group's second set of composting bins from Flatbush Reformed Church, to do some trellis set up, and to build three pallet A-frame vertical planters. There's weeding, too! All are welcome!

Long Island City, Queens - Smiling Hogshead Ranch (25-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place) is looking for someone to help sketch out an idea for a fun construction project this summer. Shoot them a message through their Facebook if you're interested!

COLLABORATORS
Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation is hosting a free book fair this Saturday, May 16th from 11 am to 2 pm at the Powell Street Garden (410 Livonia Street between Junius and Powell Streets, Brownsville). The Powell Street Garden is also on the list of gardens at risk due to Housing Preservation and Development's two small homes programs - so even if you're not in need of books you should head over and show your support for their awesome community work! For more information contact Brenda Duchene at 718-498-3174.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!
 
NEED A SOLAR-POWERED CART?
We've got a solar paneled unit that we'd love to be shared between gardens! It can provide is up to 300W at 120VAC (regular residential outlet electricity). This awesome little guy pictured below was created by R. David Gibbs and his students is great for charging cordless tool batteries, radios, lights, other small appliances, but larger tools - table saw, chops saw, a refrigerator are not OK. Email organizers@596acres.org if your garden is interested!



yours,
596 Acres

First Membership Meeting of the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative

14 May 2015
tags: announ
A real estate investment cooperative has formed in NYC! On Thursday, May 28th, we will gather for the first time as the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative at IATI Theater: 64 East 4th Street in Manhattan on the 2nd floor, 6:30-8:30pm.
 

Dear NYC REIC members and prospective members,

 

This is an email to announce our next meeting (May 28th), give you a report back on what happened two weeks ago at our first gathering, and encourage you to get involved. We also wanted to announce that NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative just received a grant for $1,000 from RSF Social Finance, that we have been selected to present at Pitching the City on May 29th, and that we now have a website: http://nycreic.org!

 

Report back: What happened on April 28?

 

We made something happen together! At our first gathering on April 28th, New Middle Collegiate Church was packed for an evening of teaching and learning. Over 300 people showed up, and over 200 people joined the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative, making this initiative a reality! We ran out of membership forms, so we know that there are more of you who want to join. You can do this at our Membership Meeting on May 28th (see below). If you missed the night of teacing and learning on April 28th, or want a review, a video recording of the event is available here: https://vimeo.com/126879980.

 

Updates: Who are we?

 

This is an all-volunteer initiative with an interim facilitation team (that’s who is writing to you now). We are running to catch up with our collective power! We need your help. Our goal is to have the governance structure reflect the population of New York City. Want to join us? Email: reic4nyc@gmail.com

 

First Membership Meeting: Thursday, May 28th at 6:30pm

 

In two weeks, on Thursday, May 28th, we will gather for the first time as the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative at IATI Theater: 64 East 4th Street in Manhattan on the 2nd floor, 6:30-8:30pm. This is a meeting for members to meet members, and to find points of unity so that we can move forward together! We will form workgroups so that members can begin to focus on the area of the investment cooperative that matches their time, interest, and ability. If you do not want to join a workgroup, check back in September. If you want to join a workgroup, but cannot make it on the 28th, email: reic4nyc@gmail.com.

 

Workplan

 

Together, over the next few months, we will identify our preliminary criteria to determine investment properties (properties we want to secure) and outreach to investors (members, unions, pension funds, other cooperatives). Our goal is to have a list of realistic properties and the money to secure at least one of them within two years. We will start on May 28th by inviting members to join workgroups that will move our project forward for the next three months.

 

Workgroups

 

Joining a workgroup means making a minimum commitment to attend one meeting a month over for the next three months. The workgroups we’ve identified are:

 
  • Facilitation

  • Membership Development

  • Media & Art

  • Case Studies & Inspiration

  • Finance, Project Vetting & Compliance

  • Vacant Public Building Inventory

  • Outreach to Institutional Investors (Foundation Program Related Investment Funds, Pensions, Unions, cooperatives, etc.)

 

Groups will work independently with facilitators June-July-August and we will come together again on Monday, September 28, 2015 for a membership report back (save the date).

 

Become a Member

 

If you have not joined yet, you will be able to do so before and after the May 28th meeting (from 6-6:30pm and from 8:30-9pm). Member investments are $10, but we have a hardship fund for those of you who cannot pay $10 at this time. Bring $10 cash for membership, and $20 if you can cover another person who cannot pay. If you can’t come to the meeting on the 28th, stay tuned as we will send an email about downloading the membership form and sending money to our bank account at Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union soon.

 

Tell your friends to join mailing list!

http://eepurl.com/biNPEr

 
See you on Thursday, May 28th at IATI Theater: 64 East 4th Street in Manhattan on the 2nd floor, from 6:30-8:30pm. Remember to come early or stay late if you still need to become a member. Please RSVP to reic4nyc@gmail.com so we know how many people are coming.
 

In cooperation,

 

Caroline, Paula, Mark, Devin, David and Moses

Your interim facilitation team for the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative

New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative (NYC REIC) leverages the patient investments and political power of members to secure permanently affordable commercial properties in NYC.

Website: http://nycreic.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NYCREIC
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/REIC4NYC/
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/biNPEr

 

REIC-Header.png

 

Thanks to our partner organizations for supporting us with expertise in social finance, cooperative law, urban planning, media production, and solidarity economics: Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, Fourth Arts Block, RSF Social Finance, Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship, 596 Acres, Duende Community Enterprise Group, OurGoods.org, NYCTBD, Greater Brooklyn, and Spaceworks. Email us if you’d like to become a partner: reic4nyc@gmail.com

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News from the Acres - May 7, 2015

07 May 2015
TONIGHT: 596 GENERAL MEETING, 7 PM, 540 PRESIDENT STREET, BROOKLYN!

JOIN US TONIGHT AT 7 PM: 596 ACRES' NEXT GENERAL MEETING FOCUSING ON HPD
Recently, Housing Preservation and Development (with control over approximately half of the vacant public land Citywide) has stopped issuing interim-use licenses for the creation of community gardens. But never fear! We can help groups organize to find solutions, such as advocating for having a City-owned properties transferred to the Parks Department to become a garden. Whether you're stuck in the middle of a land access campaign (like Edgemere Coalition Garden, who are moving forward with creating plans for the space, pictured at the bottom of this newsletter) or just curious about how to get started, come to the 596 Acres' General Meeting on TONIGHT, THURSDAY, MAY 7th at 7 pm to get the scoop. We'll be meeting at our NEW offices at 540 President Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenues, near the R and F trains) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We'll have snacks! You can also contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 with questions.

GARDEN AT RISK: AN UPDATE ON MAPLE STREET COMMUNITY GARDEN
On Monday, the gardeners of Maple Street Community Garden (237 Maple Street, Brooklyn) and their lawyer, Paula Z. Segal, headed back to housing court for the 4th time! Again the case was adjourned by the judge after hearing testimony about whether papers that initiated the case were properly given to the gardeners. The judge then ordered both sides to submit formal legal briefs by May 26th, following which another hearing will be scheduled. If you're an attorney and want to help do some research by May 20th, please contact paula@596acres.org. To learn more about the details behind Maple Street's attempted unlawful eviction, check out this press release from 596 Acres and this story from DNAInfo New York.

WE'RE HIRING AN NYC COMMUNITY LAND ACCESS PROGRAM ORGANIZER!
Do you want to play a key role in helping neighborhood groups navigate the process of accessing land? We're looking for a key team member to help with program management, outreach, and land access organizing for 21 hours a week! Click here for more details on what the job entails, what we're looking for in an applicant, and how to apply. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 27th at 12 pm.

"WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR LAND?" AT IDEAS CITY 
As a part of IDEAS CITY on Saturday, May 30th, from 12 pm to 6 pm 596 Acres,Deborah Berke Partners and GRT Architects will offer self-guided audio tours focused on exposing the mechanisms residents of the Bowery and Lower East Side can and have used to affect development in their neighborhoods. Sites will include Cooper Square Cooperative, Elizabeth Street and Siempre Verde Gardens, and El Jardin de Paraiso. The tour kicks off at Sara D. Roosevelt Park (at the intersection of Chrystie and Stanton Streets), and physical maps, audio guides, and other visual artifacts will help tell the histories of each site and help visitors navigate among them.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Harlem, Manhattan - For about a year and a half John has been working with and organizing his neighbors to create a proposal for a garden and performance space on the 17-foot wide lot at 174 East 108th Street between 3rd and Lexington AvenuesNow, John is headed to the Manhattan Community Board 11 Environment, Open Space, and Parks Committee Meeting for next Thursday, May 14th at 6 pm at the Board's office at 1664 Park Avenue at West 117th Street, to ask for the committee's support. If you live in the neighborhood, head over to show your enthusiasm for a new community space! Extra bodies in the room make a big difference! Email John at triplemgarden@gmail.com or call Mary at 596 Acres at 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Morrisania, Bronx - There's a wide but shallow lot at 405 East 161st at Melrose Avenuethat is a great spot for a neighborhood hub! Neighbors Laura and Victor have reached out to us to let us know they'd like to work creating a plan for the space! Do you want to join us for the first meeting? Email Victor maldonvic@aol.com or give him a call at 718-665-4281 to express your interest!

Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn - Addie lives next door to the skinny vacant lot with the big, lovely tree in it on Jefferson Avenue between Stuyvesant Avenue and Malcolm X. Boulevard and has started a petition for neighbors supportive of creating a community space there. Want to help rally the neighbors and get this project moving? Email Addie ataddieny@gmail.com or call her at 917-⁠749-⁠2183.

Lots with Access
Long Island City, Queens - This Saturday, May 9th from 12 pm to 5 pm Smiling Hogshead Ranch (25-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place) is hosting a community compost collection site while they offer info about Ranch membership and volunteer opportunities for the upcoming 2nd annual LIC Springs LIC, hosted by the Long Island City Partnership! Go hang out all afternoon and enjoy live music, dance, and theater performances plus interactive lessons, art & sculpture-making, fitness classes, outdoor dining, pop-up activities, a site-specific art gallery, sports games and more! Open to all ages. RSVP and find more details on the Facebook event page.

Bedford-Stuyvestant, Brooklyn - Patchen Community Square (at the corner of Patchen and Putnam Avenues) is having a volunteer day to build four new garden beds this Saturday, May 9th from 11am to 4pm. All are welcome, whether you're a garden member or not! If you have the time or a cordless drill, please head over and help out! If you're interested in gardening with us this summer, this would be a perfect opportunity to chat with the gardeners about joining as a members.

Brownsville, Brooklyn - Ten Neighbors Garden (at the corner of Saratoga and Blake Avenues) is having their first workday this Sunday, May 10th from 10 am to 1 pm. Make sure to come with gloves and comfortable dirty garden clothes! If you have any questions, contact Carlos at Carlosdjdiaz@gmail.com.

Edgemere, Queens - Edgemere Farm (385 Beach 45th Street at Beach Channel Drive) is holding a bundle dye workshop from 12 pm to 3 pm this Sunday, May 10th! During or after this workshop you can see what's growing and learn more about the exciting season ahead! Check out the Facebook page for more info.

COLLABORATORS
Calling all urban food production, security, and access business ideas! Agritecture andVertiCulture are hosting an Urban Ag Pitch happening next Thursday, May 14th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at 61 Local (61 Bergen Street between Smith and Court Streets, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn). This is a chance to share you ideas with industry professionals and get feedback while competing to win an aquaponics training course with VertiCulture. To enter, send your name, email, and a 250-word pitch of your idea to urbanagpitch@gmail.com by Sunday, May 10th.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

NEED A SCALE? 
We still have some small scales for measuring food scraps or harvested produce. If you'd like one for your garden, shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3. Pictured below is students from PS 137K Rachel Jean Mitchell School using scales to weigh and measure foods scraps, pine cones, rocks and other objects. We're so happy we were able to contribute to their science and math curriculum!

NEED A GARDEN TABLE?
61 Franklin Community Garden in Greenpoint, Brooklyn has a very study table they built to stack water barrels on and didn't end up needing. It measures 4' W x 4"L x 4' 5" tall and would be available for pick-up any day this weekend, May 9th and 10th! Email 61franklinstgarden@gmail.com if you're interested!

yours,

596 Acres

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brooklyn Gardeners Protecting Their Plots, In Court

03 May 2015


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Supporters of Maple Street Garden hold up a sign at Maple Street Garden: “Gardens are worth Saving!” Photo via 596 Acres.


A large solidarity group is supporting Maple Street Community Garden in its fight against eviction. At the last hearing in Housing Court on April 1st, 2015, a group of approximately two dozen supporters stood in solidarity with the gardeners from Maple Street, who are currently preparing for their next appearance in court on May 4th, 2015.


Maple Street Garden at 237 Maple Street in Prospect Lefferts Gardens is threatened with demolition by the current owner of the property, Housing Urban Development LLC (HUD LLC). The private developer has a name that sounds like a federal agency, apparently chosen to cause confusion, and a history of subprime lending and irregular title transfers. The principals behind the LLC are brothers Michael and Joseph Makhani. Both have been previously convicted of forging notary signatures and of a foreclosure scam in Queens. On April 6th, 2011, HUD LLC acquired the property from Brooklyn LLC (BK LLC), another LLC they set up. Since the Makhani brothers first acquired the property in 2003 under the name BK LLC, it has been sitting vacant and filling with garbage. The home that used to be on the lot burned down in 1999, a few years after its elderly owner who had lived there since 1968 passed away, apparently leaving no will and no heirs. After the fire, the house had to be demolished by NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development at public expense.  


In 2012 residents, led by the Maple 3 Block Association, organized and transformed the once trash-strewn vacant lot into a multipurpose garden and community space.


“The gardeners converted an abandoned, trash-filled empty lot into an attractive green space that is open 24/7 for anyone who wants to come in and enjoy it,” says Tom LaFarge, an active Maple Street gardner. “The city needs more places where its diverse population can meet for collaborative work and relaxed conversation.”

11149455_800721646630936_5555592365551127689_n.jpg

Maple Street Community Gardeners, and joined by supporters to hear their story during an Endangered Gardens Bike Ride organized by 596 Acres and Public Space Party on April 18th, 2015.

Photo via 596 Acres.


On September 23rd, 2014 representatives of HUD LLC tried to put a sudden end to this successful community project.

“A crew of workers came in with a truck and began to dismantle the garden, getting as far as wrecking one raised bed. An alert neighbor called the cops, who came at once and stopped the destruction,” recalls Mr. LaFarge.


The Makhani brothers arrived on-site and the police demanded to see proof of ownership, but the papers they produced were inadequate, according to the police officers. The Makhanis and workmen left.


On October 18th, 2014, the gardeners found a notice in the garden, signed by an unidentified HUD LLC signatory, and entitled “TEN DAYS NOTICE TO LICENSEE TO VACATE." That notice was the beginning of a battle that is now playing out in two different Kings County Courts. The gardeners are standing their ground against the attempts by the Makhani Brothers to illegally evict them.


On Monday, May 4, the Gardeners will appear in Housing Court to continue to resist eviction. HUD LLC is kept from interfering with the property until the case is resolved.  Simultaneously, the gardeners and Paula Z. Segal, Maple Street gardener’s attorney and founder of 596 Acres, are working with elected officials to initiate a potential condemnation.


Simultaneously, they are filing a motion to intervene in an action in Kings County Supreme Court in which HUD LLC is seeking an order declaring them the proper owners of the property.


“Even though HUD LLC is aware of the gardeners presence, some their names, how to locate them to summon them to court, and that they will be impacted by the outcome of the suit, they failed to include them in the Supreme Court quiet title action,” says Paula Z. Segal, the gardeners attorney. “They are moving ahead against only the deceased former owners and heirs that they have never been able to locate. This is sneaky and we are now asking for the court’s permission to enter the case as well since its outcome will clearly affect the gardeners rights in relation to the lot that the garden is on.”


Cheryl Everett and Beverly Lewin, two homeowners in East New York who are also currently involved in a lawsuit against the Makhani brothers, came to Maple Street Garden’s Housing Court case on April 1 in support of the gardeners. Under the name H.P.D. LLC - incorporated with the same initials as the City agency “Housing Preservation and Development” - the Makhani brothers sold the properties and worked directly with a lender who provided subprime mortgages to homeowners in East New York. The houses were built with various defects, including, but not limited to, cracks in the foundation, inadequate insulation, leaky roofs, inadequate sized sewage pipes, warped flooring, undersized heating pipes to boilers and risers, and ceilings separating from walls due to moisture from leaky roofs. Facing foreclosure, 15 of them filed a lawsuit against H.P.D. LLC in 2008; the case is still in litigation in Kings County Supreme Court.


“The Makhani brothers made that purchase sound like a good deal, they tricked me into signing. The mortgage turned out as a balloon mortgage that I can’t afford, they should have never offered it to me in the first place,” says Cheryl Everett. “After the agreement was signed and problems became obvious, it was impossible to get hold of the Makhani brothers, they just took off.”


There are currently several gardens under threat. Among the supporters at Maple Street Garden’s last Housing Court appearance were organizers from Bushwick’s Eldert Street Garden, Jason Fischman and Kim Anderson, who currently are in a similarly precarious situation.


“For those of us without a private garden, community gardens are all we have,” Kim says.  “When we work in our community gardens, we take back our fundamental right to work the land, and call a piece of earth our own. And we do it together.”


Eldert Street Garden has been active since 2009 on a vacant lot that was donated to a non-profit daycare for the use of a children’s garden. Five years after having transformed the once derelict lot into a flourishing garden, mysterious workers showed up to clear the property. The garden property has been transferred to a private developer without the consent of the New York State Attorney General's office.


“The question is whether the sale was legal at all,” says Kim. The law states that any time a non-profit transfers its assets, the Charities Bureau of the Attorney General's office needs to approve the transfer for consistency with the nonprofit's mission and purpose.


Roger That Garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is also fighting against its eviction as a result of a recent sale of the property to a private developer, TYC Real Estate. The successful garden and thriving community space opened in 2009 on a lot that sat vacant for several years after a derelict building was torn down in 2006. Last year, TYC Real Estate purchased the deed for $10 from the man who used to own and operate a hardware store on this lot before abandoning the buildings.   


Eldert Street and Roger That have already survived their own attempts at illegal eviction through lock-outs meant to stop the gardeners from gardening. Even though the illegal locks have since been removed, they still remain threatened.

What connects these gardeners is their struggle to retain to access to land that they have worked so hard to restore to useful life on behalf of their communities.


The Maple Street Community Garden case is on Monday, May 4th at 10:30am, 141 Livingston Street, Room 603, Brooklyn.


Contact: Paula Z. Segal, Esq. (646) 276-3865

More pictures available upon request.


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Photo via 596 Acres.

 

News from the Acres - April 30, 2015

30 April 2015
free soil! a real estate cooperative! & more!

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR!
We are working every day toward community control of public assets. Without your help, we couldn't continue to help neighbors access vacant, public land or continue to strategize with you about other incarnations of the commons! Please supporting 596 Acres bybecoming a monthly donor. Currently, your small monthly donations are adding $170 to our operating budget every month. That's great! But it would be amazing to double or triple it! Can you become a monthly donor today?

NEXT THURSDAY, MAY 7: 596 ACRES' NEXT GENERAL MEETING FOCUSING ON HPD
Recently, Housing Preservation and Development (with control over approximately half of the vacant public land Citywide) has stopped issuing interim-use licenses for the creation of community gardens. But never fear! We can help groups organize to find solutions, such as advocating for having a City-owned properties transferred to the Parks Department to become a garden. Whether you're stuck in the middle of a land access campaign or just curious about how to get started, come to the next 596 Acres' General Meeting on THURSDAY, MAY 7th at 7 pm to get the scoop. We'll be meeting at our NEW offices at 540 President Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenues, near the R and F trains) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We'll have snacks! You can also contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 with questions.

A NYC REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT COOPERATIVE
Last Tuesday night in the East Village 596 Acres partnered with a lot of amazing organizations to present the possibility of a NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC). At the end of the night, the cooperative was born - we signed up our first 200 members! The first membership meeting will be on THURSDAY, May 28th at from 6 pm to 8:30 pm, with the location to be determined. (ART21 New York Close Up for the lovely photo at the top of this newsletter of the space meeting spot.) Members contribute $10 for a voting share. There is also a hardship fund with memberships slots for 20 folks that don't have the cash to spare.

We are in the process of establishing a way to join online, but if you're interested you can head over to the first member meeting on THURSDAY, May 28th at from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. There are two ways for folks to stay in touch: get on the mailing list and RSVP for the meeting by emailing info@nyctbd.com, or joining the Facebook group. More details to come! Also, if you'd like to lend some volunteer time to making this incredible project move forward, email paula@596acres.org to arrange a time to do some much needed data entry work!

WE'RE HIRING AN NYC COMMUNITY LAND ACCESS PROGRAM ORGANIZER!
Do you want to play a key role in helping neighborhood groups navigate the process of accessing land? We're looking for a key team member to help with program management, outreach, and land access organizing for 21 hours a week! Click here for more details on what the job entails, what we're looking for in an applicant, and how to apply. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 27th at 12 pm.

596 ACRES-INSPIRED PROJECT IN MONTREAL IS LAUNCHED!

Lande (previously named Urburb) launched this week in Montreat to allow resident to track down vacant land in their neighborhood and start the transformation. Read more about the project here! To explore the active network of land access facilitators across the world, check out our amazing community land access advocacy network.

AN INVENTORY OF WHAT'S POSSIBLE
Take a listen to this conversation between Deputy Director of Neighborhood Initiatives at NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and some inspiring advocates pushing HPD towards a more just distribution of public assets, including Paula Z. Segal from 596 Acres.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Bushwick, Brooklyn - Since early 2013 596 Acres has been working with neighbors to try to uncover details from the Parks Department and Brooklyn Community Board 4 about the future park at 544 Bushwick Avenue at Beaver Street. Although the space was transferred from Housing Preservation and Development to the Parks Department in August 2014, there is limited transparency about the design plans. We're excited that Council Member Antonio Reynoso is helping us investigate, and would like to share letters of support with his office to present in a meeting with Parks! If you live in the neighborhood and represent a local business, school, religious organization, or group of any sort, emailmary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 to find out how you can provide a simple letter requesting resident input!

Rosedale, Queens - Kenika is a Queens resident who is super excited to start the Rosedale Urban Garden Club on the grassy lot at the corner of Memphis Avenue and 225th Street. She spoke with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services who told her that there are no plans for the space and they would be willing to transfer the lot to the Parks Department if Parks is willing to accept it. Yay! Kenika has already started crafting a draft of an awesome proposal (see it on the lot's page!) and is reaching out to local associations and churches. If you live in the area and want to help out, emaildennis.kenika@gmail.com or call her at 718-600-3236.

North-Central Bronx - Aminul is a member of a long-standing Bronx garden, but want to expand her to work to involve residents in other nearby neighborhoods. Do you live in the North-Central Bronx and want to help Aminul organizing to create a new community space? Email mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 to get connected!

Lots with Access
Edgemere, Queens - Edgemere Farm (385 Beach 45th Street at Beach Channel Drive) is having its opening weekend is this Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd from 9 am to 2 pm both days. Get a free tree or purchase some plants for your garden, New York state honey, Rockaway Herbs, and more! Check out the farm's website for more information.

Long Island City, Queens - Smiling Hogshead Ranch (25-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place) a hoola hooping workshop this Saturday, May 2nd from 11 am to 4 pm! This event is open to all ages and levels and will be taught be a few different performance artists! Bring your own hoop! RSVP and find more details on the Facebook event page.

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Siempre Verde (181 Stanton Street at Attorney Street) is launching their monthly summer story time for kids with Hamilton Fish Park Branch Library starting next Thursday, May 7th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am! Stories for ages birth through five years. Please join! This will be taking place the first Thursday of the month all summer long!

COLLABORATORS
The New York City Parks Department is calling for tree-loving gardeners to spearhead small volunteer events for the 2015 Tree Census. Parks will work with your neighborhood group to select a Census Zone that is close to your group's home base and develop a schedule of training and mapping events. Community gardens can help with the 2015 Tree Census by holding as little as 2 volunteer events with 10 volunteers each to map out trees on fifty 4-sided blocks. No experience with mapping technology or tree identification is necessary! If you're curious which block have already been signed up for, check out this map. To learn more and sign up, click here.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

NEED A SCALE? 
We still have some small scales for measuring food scraps or harvested produce. If you'd like one for your garden, shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

NEED POTTING MIX, COMPOST, OR MULCH?
This year the Department of Sanitation is unable to supply gardens in the same manner with unlimited amounts of compost, mulch and potting mix, due to some physical infrastructure changes and upgrades within the department. However, between now and Friday, June 12th, the department will allow any registered not-for-profit organization to pick-up as much loose compost, mulch and potting mix as they can haul away from the Staten Island Compost Site Monday through Saturday between the hours of 8 am and 2 pmInterested groups can utilize 596 Acres as their not-for-profit organization. This offer is exclusively limited to the use of vehicles hired to haul compost on behalf of a not-for-profit and the department cannot accommodate individual small vans or small pick-up trucks at the site, nor anyone arriving with a few receptacles to fill with material. Gardens might want to join forces within a particular borough and try to use one operator to haul on behalf of a number of sites! Here's how to do it:
STEP 1. Email Mr. Lange at Sanitation at rlange@dsny.nyc.gov and copynyccompost@dsny.nyc.gov and organizers@596acres.org with the information regarding who is requesting material, what company has been hired to haul materials on your behalf, the types of materials and quantities you want to pick-up and finally the day and time that you would prefer to make the pick-up.
STEP 2. If all of the information requested is present you will be approved and receive email response. Print out that email and have your designated hauler bring it to the Staten Island Compost Site on the pick-up day. If the amount of materials you are requesting requires your hauler to make multiple trips to the Staten Island Compost Site then please instruct the driver to bring a copy each time. In which case Sanitation will be tracking your organization’s individual hauls from the total requested and stopping pick-ups once that total has been reached.


Last Thursday 596 Acres tabled at the Earth Week Celebration at Bushwick Campus Farm! Thanks EcoStationNY, for putting on such a great event!

yours,
596 Acres

596 Acres-Inspired Project Launches in Montreal!

28 April 2015

Lande unveils its collaborative map of Montreal's vacant land

Created in September for Je vois Montréal, Lande (previously named Urburb), launched this week their first tool to facilitate the repossession of vacant land by Montrealers: the collaborative platform http://www.landemtl.com, allows residents to track down vacant land in their neighbourhood and demonstrate their interest in participating in the transformation process.

Vacant land: a vast potential for residents

According to the City's data, in 2010 there was 25 square kilometers of vacant land in Montreal. This is equal to the surface of 32 Botanical Gardens. These spaces have the potential of becoming collective gardens, parks, or recreational areas in order to enhance the quality of life in Montreal's central neighbourhoods.

The objective: form groups of neighbors and help them with their project

Thanks to the new collaborative platform, Lande connects neighbors that want to contribute to the process of transforming public or private vacant land. Lande can then help the group transforming the space with their questions regarding the regulation related to the land, negotiation with the owner, and communication. The objective of the non-profit organization is to reduce all obstacles that stand in the group's way in their project of transforming their vacant land into a collective garden, park, or recreational area.

A Land Access Advocacy Network

Lande is part of an active network of land access facilitators. Lande has benefited from the consultation of 596 Acres, the pioneer organization in land access advocacy. In the past, 596 Acres has help bring to life similar initiatives in Philadelphia (Grounded in Philly), Los Angeles (LA Open Acres) and New Orleans (Living Lots NOLA).

A long-waited and winning initiative

At Je vois Montréal, bringing together leaders from various backgrounds and aiming to breathe new life into the city, Lande is committed to facilitate the transformation of 5 vacant lots by 2017. The creation of the collaborative platform is the first step towards the realisation of this commitment.

At écoHackMTL 2014, Lande was awarded with the Food System Prize for it's potential to create durable food systems, as well as the People's Choice Prize.

About Lande

Lande facilitates the repossession of vacant lands in Montreal by residents for permanent or temporary usage. The organization helps reveal the potential of these spaces in order to enhance the quality of life in Montreal's central neighbourhoods.

 

Information:

Andréanne Maltais: 514 887-0078

info@landemtl.com 

Photo bank:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/131366549@N07/


 

We're Hiring an NYC Community Land Access Program Organizer!

27 April 2015

Since 2011 596 Acres' Community Land Access Program has helped 32 groups transform vacant, City-owned pieces of land into community resources. Our online mapping tools makes information about public property available and easy to understand. We also engage neighbors by hanging up signs up on the fences and work with them to help realize community control over spaces.  As the organizer, you'll play a key role in helping neighborhood groups navigate the process of accessing land. Here's what you’ll do:


Program Management

  • Coordinate, collaborate, and strategize in tandem with Executive Director

  • Work closely with 596 Acres advisory committee, both as a staff support and strategic partners

  • Manage volunteers

  • Support development of organization’s programmatic work plan

  • Work with the Executive Director, governance board, staff and members to develop and evaluate organizing strategies

  • Generate new program ideas and work with staff and board to implement and carry out programming related to the organization’s priorities

  • Write the weekly News From the Acres

  • Develop print and web materials as needed

  • Foster a team-oriented, supportive, accountable work environment at 596 Acres

 

Outreach

  • Hang signs on fences of vacant lots City-wide

  • Lead workshops for various community based organizations and neighborhood groups

  • Table for 596 Acres at community events

  • Support and initiate relationship-building and cultivate meaningful collaborations with community leaders, local politicians, and community-based organizations

  • Represent the organization with local and state government officials, in the media, and with private organizations

  • Use social media as outreach and organizing tool

  • Help complete a summer outreach project to visit 7 community boards in districts with the highest concentration of vacant, public land to share information about 596 Acres' work, current neighborhood land access organizing efforts, and district-specific maps

 

Land Access Advocacy Organizing

  • Support the organizing efforts of local land access advocates around NYC by monitoring website activity and following up with active organizing groups regularly

  • Process and respond to new intake within 48 hours

  • Maintain our email-oriented database with extreme attention to detail

  • Stay current on process of application for license and leases through relevant city agencies for community use

  • Liaise with city agencies and intervene in direct community outreach when needed

  • Help complete a summer outreach project to visit 7 community boards in districts with the highest concentration of vacant, public land to share information about 596 Acres' work, current neighborhood land access organizing efforts, and district-specific maps

  • Facilitate monthly general meetings

Here's what we're looking for in an applicant

  • Extreme comfort with email and filing

  • Experience in and commitment to bottom-up organizing, grassroots leadership, and collective decision-making

  • Comfort with responding to email immediately within regular working hours

  • Comfort with flexible organizing schedule to accommodate community event needs

  • Willingness to travel throughout the five boroughs

  • Familiarity with City government processes (and willingness to learn more about them!)

  • Demonstrated ability to work in multi-racial, multi-lingual settings

This is part time (21 hours per week) position with benefits. Pay is $24,000 per year (negotiable if you do not want to take advantage of the benefits package). Our office is in Gowanus, Brooklyn; regular office hours are required.


To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to organizers@596acres.org by Wednesday, May 27th at 12 pm.

News from the Acres - April 23, 2015

23 April 2015
gardens are worth saving!

Last Saturday's Bike Ride for Gardens at Risk was a hit! The photo above is from the garden stop over atMaple Street Community Garden, where gardeners shared the history of the space and recapped the current battle they are fighting in court. To see more photos from the ride, check out the Facebook album!

EARTH WEEK CELEBRATION TODAY WITH ECOSTATION NY
596 Acres will be tabling at EcoStationNY's Earth Week Celebration TODAY Thursday, April 23rd from 3 pm to 5 pm at Bushwick Campus Farm (400 Irving Avenue between Woodbine Street and Putnam Avenue). Visit our table to learn how you can work with your neighbors to start a campaign to get access to vacant, public land. While you're there, take a farm and greenhouse tour, visit a composting and sustainable agriculture workshop, or see cooking demonstrations and an art exhibit. There will also be performances of poetry, theatre, and music celebration of planet earth!

LET'S BUILD A REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT COOPERATIVE!
real estate investment cooperative (REIC) allows individuals to pool their money and energy to invest in land and buildings. We are building the political and fiscal power to preserve the spaces we care about for the long haul. Join us for an evening of teaching and learning next Tuesday, April 28th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Middle Collegiate Church (50 East 7th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, Manhattan). Please RSVP if you would like to attend by emailing info@nyctbd.com. At this initial gathering, we will talk about the REIC model, share examples of how cooperative financing has worked in other places, hear from groups that need financial investment to help them retain existing community space, examine opportunities for acquiring property outside the market paradigm and talk about how we might implement our own REICs.

DATE CHANGE: 596 ACRES' NEXT GENERAL MEETING ON *THURSDAY, MAY 7th*
Whether you're stuck in the middle of a land access campaign or just curious about how to get started, come to 596 Acres' next General Meeting on THURSDAY, MAY 7th at 7 pm at our NEW offices at 540 President Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenues) in Brooklyn to get the scoop.

Recently, Housing Preservation and Development (who has jurisdiction over approximately half of the vacant public land Citywide) has stopped issuing interim-use licenses. But never fear! We can help groups organize to advocate for having City-owned properties transferred to the Parks Department to become a garden. To learn more, come to the meeting! You can also contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 with questions.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Morrisania, Bronx - Neighbor Laura walked by the vacant lot at 405 East 161st Street at Melrose Avenue every day when she comes home from work and would like to connect with neighbors to clean it up! Email Laura at lmp945218@gmail.com or call Mary at 596 Acres at 718-316-6092 ext 3.

East Harlem, Manhattan - Harlem resident John is still working on getting the support of Manhattan Community Board 11 to start a garden with a park vibe and a stage for local performances at 174 East 108th Street between 3rd and Lennox Avenues. He's got quite a list of supporters, but would love to get more neighbors in on these plans. Do you live in the neighborhood and want to head to a community board meeting with John? Shoot him an email at triplemgarden@gmail.com or call Mary at 596 Acres at 718-316-6092 ext 3.

East New York, Brooklyn - Kevin runs Progressive Youths Soccer Academy and would like to transformone of the vacant, public lots behind the homes at Sapphire Street and 155th Avenue into a soccer field so that the program can expand to engage more young people! 596 Acres has connected him with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (who has jurisdiction over the space) to discuss applying to a lease. Do you want to help make this happen or have some great ideas for this future youth hub? Email Kevin at blacstoc@gmail.com or call Mary at 596 Acres at 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Jamaica, Queens - There's a wide, flat lot at 9043 Desarc Road between Redding and Sitka Streets that might be the perfect place for some communal growing, or a park to relax in! Join the lot's page as an organizer or give Mary at call at 718-316-6092 ext 3 or email at mary@596acres.org.

Lots with Access
East New York, Brooklyn/Cityline, Queens - Last Thursday the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) continued to build out the new BACDYS Community Garden(corner of Forbell Street and Glenmore Avenue) with the help of New York Restoration Project's Gardens for the City program. (Scroll to the bottom of this newsletter to see a super cute photo!)
596 Acres is so happy that our work facilitating a license with the MTA means that this space is finally open to the public! If you'd like to jump into the planning of the communal beds, head over to the gardenthis Saturday, April 25th at 10 am to join the discussion.

Long Island City, Queens - Smiling Hogshead Ranch (25-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place) is hosting a clean up day to use their Love Your Block grant this Saturday, April 25th from 11 am to 4 pm to do some street tree care, plant some native plants, and spruce up bike lanes.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn -  La Casita Verde (451 Bedford Avenue at Division Avenue) is having a celebration in honor of Earth Day next Wednesday, April 29th from 4 pm to 6 pm. You can check out the space and learn more about the garden's food scrap collection service, their design and building of an aerated static pile (ASP) style composter that uses solar panel system (donated by Kiwi Energy), and Soil Cycle, a cargo bike they will be coordinating with schools to facilitate growing soil and reducing food waste. Neat! Head on over!

Harlem, Manhattan - Join the new Mandela Garden (West 126th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues)this Sunday April 26th at noon for a de-paving event to remove all the concrete from the garden! Neighbors will be joined by Arif Khan a founding member of Depave.org, a rapidly growing West Coast de-paving movement. Bring friends, and if possible, bandana or dust mask, work gloves, picks and 1 inch x 6' metal pipe for prying up, though the garden will supply as much materials as possible.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email atorganizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Need a Scale? 
We still have some small scales for measuring food scraps or harvested produce. If you'd like one for your garden, shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

yours,
596 Acres

News from the Acres - April 16, 2015

16 April 2015
this saturday: bike ride for gardens at risk!

THIS AFTERNOON'S BACDYS COMMUNITY GARDEN BUILDOUT
Join Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) as they continue to build out the new BACDYS Community Garden with the help of New York Restoration Project's Gardens for the City program THIS AFTERNOON Thursday, April 16th from 3 pm to 6 pm at the corner of Forbell Street and Glenmore Avenue! Come help spruce up the space and celebrate the opening up of this community space with us!(That's a photo of the first phase of the garden's build out happening above! Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter to see the accomplished raised beds and picnic tables!)

THIS SATURDAY'S BIKE RIDE FOR GARDENS AT RISK
Join 596 Acres, the New York City Community Garden Coalition, and Public Space Partythis Saturday, April 18th as we ride to visit and learn more about five gardens under threat by private developers: Maple Street Community GardenRoger That Garden ProjectEldert Street GardenChildren's Magical Garden, and Siempre Verde Community Garden. Large-scale community support can help advocate for these private properties to be acquired by the City and transferred into Parks Department inventory to remain valuable community resources. Check out the press release for this event to get the ride schedule and read a more about these gardens under threat. You can also join the
Facebook event to keep updated on meeting details and the route of the ride!

Don't have a bike? The Maple Street Community Garden (Maple Street between Rogers and Nostrand Avenues, Brooklyn) is having a Spring party and fundraiser for 596 Acres, whose director, Paula Z. Segal has been representing the gardeners in court. There will be eating, drinking, and relaxing, as well as planting, painting signs, turning compost, and tours of the garden! Please join them and donate to help support 596 Acres continuing work to open up and preserve public land! You can also always donate to 596 Acres online, too!

AN EARTH WEEK CELEBRATION WITH ECOSTATION NY
596 Acres will be tabling at EcoStationNY's Earth Week Celebration next Thursday, April 23 from 1 pm to 5 pm (open to the public at 3 pm) at Bushwick Campus Farm (400 Irving Avenue between Woodbine Street and Putnam Avenue). Visit our table to learn how you can work with your neighbors to start a campaign to get access to vacant, public land. While you're there, take a farm and greenhouse tour, visit a composting and sustainable agriculture workshop, or see cooking demonstrations and an art exhibit. There will also be performances of poetry, theatre, and music celebration of planet earth!

SAVE THE DATE: 596 ACRES' NEXT GENERAL MEETING
Whether you're stuck in the middle of a land access campaign or just curious about how to get started, come to 596 Acres' next General Meeting on Tuesday, May 5th at 7 pm at our offices at 540 President Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenues) in Brooklyn. to get the scoop.

Recently, Housing Preservation and Development (who has jurisdiction over approximately half of the vacant public land Citywide) has stopped issuing interim-use licenses. But never fear! We can help groups organize to advocate for having City-owned properties transferred to the Parks Department to become a garden. To learn more, come to the meeting! You can also contact mary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3 with questions.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Brownsville, Brooklyn - Christopher is a Brownsville resident who has been helping out a friend lead a community garden for the past year. Now, he's excited to organize a new space to open! If you live in Community Board 16 near where Powell Street meets Pitkin Avenue, reach out to Christopher at citrus0345@gmail.com or call Mary at 718-316-6092 ext 3.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn - Johanna, the Sustainability Coordinator at P.S. 46/Brooklyn New School is leading students to craft a campaign to start a native plant garden at the vacant Department of Transportation (DOT) property that sits adjacent to the school and the footbridge over the Gowanus Expressway. Johanna is working with 596 Acres to create a proposal that the helpful staff at Council Member Brad Lander's office will work on getting to the right people at DOT. If you live in Carroll Gardens or Red Hook and want to help, reach out to Johanna at johanna@bns146.org or 646-808-5595.

Flatbush, Brooklyn - After months and months of perseverance, neighbor Sophia has finally received a letter of support from her community board to start a garden at 2334 Tilden Avenue at Lott Street! If you live in the neighborhood and want to help Sophia advocate for this property to be reassigned to the Parks Department, contact her atgreenlodging20@yahoo.com or call her at 718-501-2395.

Lots with Access
Lower East Side, Manhattan - Siempre Verde Garden (on Stanton Street between Clinton and Attorney Streets) is holding a garden meeting next Wednesday, April 22nd at 6 pm. Head on over to learn what's new in the garden and the possible changes coming!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - La Casita Verde (451 Bedford Avenue at Division Avenue) is now accepting neighborhood food scraps for composting on every Saturday from 3 pm to 4 pm as well as during open garden hours. To learn more about this free service and the garden's new pilot scrap pick-up service in the neighborhood, click here.

Harlem, Manhattan - Electric Ladybug Garden members (West 111th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglas Boulevard) are heading to the Manhattan Community Board 10 Executive Meeting next Wednesday, April 22nd to see if board members will vote to pass a resolution to protect four Harlem gardens. Head over to 215 West 125th Street (between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard) in the 4th Floor conference room at 6:00 pm to show your support!

Harlem, Manhattan - 227 Garden (227 West 115th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevards) is having their first garden meeting next Wednesday, April 22nd from 11 am to 4 pm. This is a great chance to get involved if aren't already and find out how you can help get this garden growing!

COLLABORATORS
The New York City Community Garden Coalition's monthly meeting is TONIGHT, Thursday, April 16th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Castle Gardens (625 West 140th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive, Manhattan). Come to the meeting to discuss strategy, meet with fellow gardeners, and stay in the conversation about keeping up the momentum for protecting the 17 community gardens on HPD's development list.

Imani Garden II (1680 Pacific Street at Schenectady Avenue, Brooklyn) is holding aCompost Tea and Spring Clean Up this Saturday, April 18th from noon to 4 pm. Learn how to make compost tea and help the garden get ready for spring, including bringing leaves from a nearby park in a wheelbarrow brigade and cleaning out our water storage tanks and fish ponds. Bring some work gloves and if you have them, rubber gloves for cleaning the tanks and ponds. Tasty vegetarian stew will be provided, but if you can bring your favorite beverage and some hearty bread.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Need a Scale? 
We have some small scales for measuring food scraps or harvested produce. If you'd like one for your garden, shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.


yours,

596 Acres

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Yorks Ride Bikes to Connect Gardens Under Threat

13 April 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015, 2-6pm (detailed schedule below) 

Join Public Space Party, the New York City Community Garden Coalition and 596 Acres to ride to small gardens and community parks that add essential depth to New York City’s open space network and are in danger of losing their land to private development: Maple Street, Roger That, Eldert Street, Children's Magical, Siempre Verde, and Elizabeth Street. These gardens need community support in asking the city to move their land from the private market into the public inventory where they belong. They are small, community spaces that serve as multi-purpose community living rooms year round.

The ride begins under the arch at Grand Army plaza at 2pm. The first stop is at Maple Street Community Garden in Prospect-Lefferts. Maple Street garden was formed in 2012 by the Maple 3 Block Association and community members who transformed a trash-strewn vacant lot into a multipurpose garden and community space. The lot had been vacant and collecting trash for over a decade since its most recent resident and owner passed away and her home burned down. 

As Ali Jacobs, 31, an active member who lives on Sterling Street stated, “Our neighborhood is beautiful, but very short on public land.  Our garden has no gate nor lock, it is accessible by the entire neighborhood, and is used heavily by children and adults as a common outdoor space.”

The Maple Street Community Garden is being threatened with demolition by Housing Urban Development LLC, a private development corporation with a history of subprime lending and irregular title transfers. Gardeners are resisting eviction by appearing in Housing Court and urging the City to condemn the property and transfer it to the Parks Department (next court appearance is May 4, 2015 at 10:30am at 141 Livingston Street, Brooklyn in room 603).

The next stop is Roger That garden, a community space in Crown Heights, Brooklyn that stewards native plants, grows edibles, and maintains community compost. Roger That garden is currently under threat of development by a real estate developer who purchased the deed to the land, subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax debt liens, for $10 from the man who used to own and operate a hardware store on this lot before abandoning the buildings. The developers have attempted to illegally evict the garden through a lock-out.

Roger That can be saved if the City invokes eminent domain and buys the property to preserve it as a Parks Department garden. Eminent domain has been used to create New York’s parks and open spaces dating at least back to 1807. Prospect Park, Central Park, the Ocean Parkway Greenway and Astor place are just a few of the over 350 condemnations for the creation or preservation of parks and open spaces that have been recorded in New York’s county courts. 

The ride will then move on to Eldert Street Garden in Bushwick, a space that was established on vacant lot in 2009. Elder Street offers vegetable plots, educational programming for kids and adults, composting, and a welcoming public space where folks can relax and connect with the natural world.

Kim Anderson, one Eldert Street garden steward, says, “For those of us without a private garden to grow in, or a forest to walk in, community gardens are all we have. When we work in our community gardens, we take back our fundamental right to work the land, and call a piece of earth our own, no matter how small. And we do it together.” 

The lot that the garden was on was donated to a local charity organization for use as a children’s garden; its recent transfer to a private for-profit corporation is under investigation by the New York State Office of the Attorney General. The gardeners are asserting their rights as tenants under New York City law and continuing to grow in the face of bullying by the developer. They are asking that the City halt all construction permits to the property and acquire it for transfer to the Parks Department.

From Bushwick riders venture into Manhattan to visit Siempre Verde garden, 2 small parcels of public land on Attorney and Stanton Streets that were reinvigorated by neighbors in 2012 who responded to signs posted by 596 Acres. The garden parcels are divided by an 18-foot parcel owned by a private developer who has put forward a proposal to purchase the City-owned properties and use all three as primarily luxury housing. The gardeners are asking that the City transfer the existing garden lots to the Parks Department for preservation and acquire the private parcel to make the garden whole. 

"We are essentially animals so having access to nature provides creature comforts, soothes the savage soul and regenerates the weary spirit,” says Ann Lee, of Siempre Verde Community Garden. “Gardens are a place to pause and respite from the grind of concrete cities. Gardens are the future for urban people."

The fifth stop on the ride will be Children’s Magical garden, founded in 1982 by community activists with the mission to create a safe space for the neighborhood’s children to play in and learn about nature. They have been tirelessly serving their community for 30 years, and have been fighting development since May 2013, when a portion of their garden was destroyed by a developer who claims to own the land despite doing nothing with the property for decades.

Finally, riders visit Elizabeth Street Garden, located on city-owned land on Little Italy’s Elizabeth Street. The Garden, open to the public by local volunteers, provides a sanctuary for residents in an otherwise dense and tightly packed neighborhood. The site has a long history as a public school, gathering place, and playground, before it was transformed into a garden by Elizabeth Street Gallery in 1991. In June 2013, neighbors started a campaign to  permanently preserve the Garden as a New York City park but the City has not yet transferred the land or indicated that preservation is a priority. The garden continues to operate with a revocable lease and has been suggested by elected officials as a site for private housing development.

“As cities become more dense and our economy shifts toward sharing, gardens serve as 21st century community centers where neighbors get to know each other the old-fashioned way while enjoying shared backyards,” says Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden President Jeannine Kiely. “Neighborhood green spaces have great value and make cities livable.”

“The social rate of return for community gardens takes place in countless forms,” noted Benjamin Shepard, of Public Space Party.  “We call for the city to support open space, recognizing the multiple benefits of green space in world facing increasing temperatures and climate chaos.”

 “The City needs to take a more active interest in the fates of these properties and affirmatively act to preserve the institutions that New Yorkers love,” says Paula Z. Segal, director of 596 Acres and attorney for the Maple Street, Roger That and Eldert Street gardens. “This isn't about housing versus gardens. This is about living in a City that places the needs of people who live in neighborhoods above the potential for others to make money off those neighborhoods.”

 

Ride Schedule

Riders will meet under the arch at Grand Army Plaza at 2, leaving at 2:10 PM sharp.   

2:15-2:30pm

Maple Street Community Garden

237 Maple Street between Rogers and Nostrand, Prospect-Lefferts, Brooklyn

Contact: Tom La Forge, (917) 400-2187

Web: maplestreetgarden.org

 

2:45-3:30pm

Roger That

98 Rogers Avenue at Park Place, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Contact: David Vigil, (646) 643-9623

Web: rogerthatgarden.org

 

4-4:30pm  

Eldert Street Garden

315 Elder Street between Knickerbocker and Irving, Bushwick, Brooklyn

Contact: Kim Anderson, (917) 623-6408

Web: eldertstreetgarden.blogspot.com

 

5-5:20pm

Siempre Verde Garden

189 Stanton Street, Lower East Side, New York

Contact: John Donahue, jdonahue00@hotmail.com

Web: svgarden.org

 

5:20-5:35pm

Children’s Magical Garden

129 Stanton St, Lower East Side, New York

 

5:40-6pm

Elizabeth Street Garden

204-208 Elizabeth Street, Little Italy/Soho, New York

Contact: Jeannine Kiely, (917) 297-4475

Web: elizabethstreetgarden.org

News From the Acres - April 9, 2015

09 April 2015
farewell to a small green patch

Sadly, as of Wednesday, April 1st A Small Green Patch (Bergen Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, Brooklyn) officially closed as a community space. Housing Preservation and Development is moving forward on transferring the two City-owned lots the garden was on to the private for-profit development corporation (that owns the center lot that sits between the two public lots) to begin a housing project this summer. The garden has been closed in anticipation.

Here is a note from Tami Johnson (pictured above), one of the lead organizers over the last four years, sent on the occasion of the closing on behalf of A Small Green Patch: "I am writing to thank you for every second of time spent, every hole you dug, every picture you painted, every meeting you attended, every woodchip - bag of mulch/soil/compost you moved, every group you put together, every workshop you gave, every compost drop off you donated, every answer or idea that you freely gave, every permission you granted, every person you taught how to farm/garden/grow. Even though A Small Green Patch has closed it's gate to allow for development - everything that each person brought to share over the past 4 years of it's existence is truly incredible. So many individuals, groups and city agencies played a vital role in what became A Small Green Patch. Many thanks to Green Thumb, HPD and Jay [the owners of the middle, private lot] for allowing us to use the vacant space in Brooklyn - Block 389, Lot's 27, 28 and 29 to create the open space it became. Thanks to Sanitation for hanging out at the beginning so we could clean the lots up to use. I can't name all of the players that helped make this happen but personally I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow from this whole experience."

We are also so happy that A Small Green Patch had the opportunity to create a thriving community space for so long! We look forward to hearing that the members of A Small Green Patch are spending their time at surrounding neighborhood gardens!

CITY LINE/EAST NEW YORK HAS A NEW COMMUNITY SPACE!
Join Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) as they build out the new BACDYS Garden with the help of New York Restoration Project's Gardens for the City program next Thursday, April 16th from 3 pm to 6 pm at the corner of Forbell Street and Glenmore Avenue! Come help spruce up the space, build beds, and celebrate the opening up of this community space with us!

This space is actually a roof of the A Train tunnel and was a park more than 25 years ago. For over two years, 596 Acres helped BACDYS organize, connect with resources, and negotiate with the MTA. The garden is designed by pro bono architect Wendy Andringa of GreenLab Studio in collaboration with Grain Collective. "As a long term resident of this community I am extremely overjoyed with the reality of the project rising from paper to a life form," says Darma Diaz, BACDYS co-founder. "This garden will be heaven sent for both seniors and youth who have no place within the community to enjoy a green environment." Head to the lot's page and look under the notes section to read more about the journey of creating this new space!

A BIKE RIDE FOR GARDENS AT RISK
Join 596 Acres and Public Space Party next Saturday, April 18th as we ride to visit and learn more about five gardens under threat by private developers: Maple Street Community Garden,Roger That Garden Project
Eldert Street GardenChildren's Magical Garden, and Siempre Verde Community Garden. Large-scale community support can help advocate for these private properties to be acquired by the City and transferred into Parks Department inventory to remain valuable community resources. Join the Facebook event to keep updated on meeting details and the route of the ride!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Rosedale, Queens - Kenika emailed us this week to get more information on the wide and grassy lot at the corner of Memphis Avenue and 225th Street. She'll be posting a sign on the fence and at her local library (who thinks this is a great idea) and talking to neighbors about starting the Rosedale Queens Garden. If you live in the area and want to help out, emaildennis.kenika@gmail.com or call her at 718-600-3236.

Coney Island, Brooklyn - Oksana, Ben, and Yousiff are interested in accessing vacant, public space along the waterfront on Neptune Avenue at West 21st Street for poossible boating access or recreation space. Any other Coney Island residents interested in exploring the possibilities? Reach out to these three at boatsonlot41@gmail.com or give Mary at 596 Acres a call at 718-16-6092 ext 3.

Springfield Gardens, Queens - Thomas, a member of the Friends of Idlewild Park, has been working on a campaign to access the vacant, Department of Citywide Administrative Services-lot at the corner of 47th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard for a native plant garden and composting site. Want to get involved? Email him at t.arrington@idlewildparkpreserve.com or call 347-866-5114.

Lots with Access
Ditmas, Brooklyn - This Saturday April 11th Q Gardens (at the corner of East 18th Street and Church Avenue) is holding an action day from noon to 4 pm to launch their community compost drop off program! Bring your food scrap! They will also being creating some signage for the compost program and unloading and spreading a big mulch delivery. All are welcome!

Harlem, Manhattan - Electric Ladybug Garden (West 111th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglas Boulevard) is holding their garden elections for their board of directors this Saturday, April 11th at 226 West 111th Street, across the street from the garden, through the gate and down the steps to the basement community room. Voting starts at 2pm sharp. See you there!

Harlem, Manhattan - Harlem Valley Garden (197 West 134th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard) is holding a Spring Workday this Sunday, April 12th from 11am to 4pm to spruce up the garden. Head over to help deconstruct the greenhouse, throw down some mulch, build terraced beds, and more! Join the Facebook event here! Bring food scraps to feed the worms!

Lower East Side, Manhattan - Siempre Verde Garden (on Stanton Streets between Clinton and Attorney Streets) has restarted their weekly open hours: noon to 5 pm every Saturday and Sunday! Swing by to meet neighbors, check out what's being planted, and hear what events are coming up! At the bottom of this newsletter are hose are two cute members showing of their findings from the garden's recent Easter egg hunt!)

COLLABORATORS
Did you know Greenpoint & Williamsburg have high levels of lead in soil? Find out more! JoinNeighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) next Thursday, April 16th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm for a presentation by the NYC Department of Health’s Nancy Clark, the Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Environmental Disease and Injury Prevention and Deborah Nagin, the Director of Healthy Homes Program to discuss testing children’s lead levels and how to reduce exposures by. Head over to the McCarren Park Recreation Center, Multipurpose Room C at 776 Lorimer Street between Driggs Avenue and Bayard Street. Join the Facebook event or RSVP viathe NAG website to RSVP!

Municipal Arts Society is partnering with Jane's Walk International from Friday, May 1st through Sunday, May 3rd to host free, locally organized “walking conversations” that get people together to explore, talk about, and celebrate their neighborhoods. Walks can be place-based, issue-based or activity-based and are a wonderful way to raise awareness of the great work that communities are all doing and challenges faced in building community-based resilience in NYC. Would you like to lead a walk that passes by and discusses your community space in the 596 Acres network?! Have another great idea? Read more here or attend an information session on Monday, April 13th from 6pm to 8 pm.  RSVP by calling 212-935-3960 x 1231 or emailing janeswalknyc@mas.org

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Need a Scale? 
We have some small scales for measuring food scraps or harvested produce. If you'd like one for your garden, shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.

yours,
596 Acres

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: City Line East New York Gets a New Garden thanks to Organizing by BACDYS and 596 Acres

09 April 2015

East New York, Brooklyn

The Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) Corporation of East New York is celebrating the creation of a new community garden at the corner of Forbell Street and Glenmore Avenue, East New York, Brooklyn. After signing a lease with the MTA to utilize the space in March, BACDYS teamed up with New York Restoration Project (NYRP), whose Gardens for the City program will bring materials and manpower to transform the space into a community garden from April 14-16, 2015. Volunteers will join to complete the initial construction on Thursday, April 16 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This space is familiar to anyone who has ever taken the A train to Rockaway - it is the roof of the train tunnel just as the train comes out and was originally designed as parklet. Fenced over 20 years ago, it was an eyesore created a dangerous blind corner for many years.

"The corner was full of garbage and rubble. It smelled. It was really ugly looking and people were afraid to come close," says Misba Abdin, President of the BACDYS board, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1982.

For over two years, 596 Acres helped BACDYS organize, connect with resources, and negotiate a lease with the MTA. MTA hosts other gardens on its property throughout the boroughs; 596 Acres recently supported the creation of Smiling Hogshead Ranch in Long Island City, Queens, and Q Gardens in Ditmas, Brooklyn. These three MTA-owned sites are just a few of the 32 community spaces that 596 Acres has helped neighbors create since their program began in early 2012.

"We could have never done this without 596 Acres," says Mr. Abdin. "They helped us figure out who we needed to talk to and bring all these great organizations together to make this garden real."

"It's amazing to be able to really feel the multiplier effect of our success across the city, to take what we learn in one neighborhood and transform it into success elsewhere," says Paula Z. Segal, attorney and director of 596 Acres. "Each campaign we work on is unique and we're pleased to have launched so many independent land stewards in such a short time!"

"As a long term resident of this community I am extremely overjoyed with the reality of the project rising from paper to a life form," says Darma Diaz, BACDYS co-founder. "This garden will be heaven sent for both seniors and youth who have no place within the community to enjoy a green environment."

The garden is designed by pro bono architect Wendy Andringa of GreenLab Studio in collaboration with Grain Collective. Materials for the garden construction are being donated by Build It Green and New York Restoration Project.

“This has been a great team effort - 596 acres has worked tirelessly to keep the transformation moving forward,” says Ms. Andringa. “I'm glad I could participate in the process - to see the Forbell green space finished will be so rewarding!”

"What we find fascinating is this grassroots movement by community to adapt and transform many of these unused urban open spaces," says architect Runit Chhay, Grain Collective. "As a professional, this is a great opportunity for us to support the community who have taken on this herculean task and we are grateful to be part of this."

“We’re thrilled to bring NYRP’s Gardens for the City resources, including staff, tools and materials, to help in this effort,” said Rebecca Fitle, NYRP Regional Engagement Manager. “This collaboration is a reminder of the importance of mobilizing. Together, we can empower the community, and each other, to transform green spaces into beautiful, accessible oases for the public to use for years to come.”

"I am proud to support and celebrate the creation of this new garden," says City Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., who represents the 37th District. "Community gardens are vital to building a healthy and vibrant community, as they eventually become pillars in the community bringing residents from various backgrounds together. I would like to thank the Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation of East New York, 596 Acres, and everyone that came together to make this garden a reality.”

http://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/3042060001/
http://596acres.org
http://bacdys.org
http://www.nyrp.org
http://www.greenlabstudio.net
http://graincollective.com

News From the Acres - April 2, 2015

02 April 2015
we're not giving up.

Check out this article published in Metro New York on Monday that highlights the persistence of neighbors like Dierell from 743 Blake Avenue (at Bradford Street) in East New York and how 596 Acres continues to work with folks to craft their campaigns and push for public access to public land.

596 Acres is featured alongside organization from around the globe in Enabling City Vol. 2, the second book by Chiara Camponeschi which explores the relationship between public space and democracy, the links between the commons and resilience and, ultimately, the role that social innovation can and must play in order to safeguard and advance both. You can read it online here - we're on page 120!

Last weekend, Paula Z. Segal, 596 Acres' Director of Policy and Advocacy, headed to Montreal for the two-day Degeneration-Regeneration where she gave the talk The Right to the City: One Vacant Lot at a Time. Check out these articles from Inquisitr and The Link Newspaper covering the conference.

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn - PS 146/Brooklyn New School's Green & Government Club is working on a campaign to turn a Department of Transportation triangular, paved property that sits between their school, the footbridge across the Gowanus Expressway, and Hamilton Avenue in to an open garden space for native pollinators that the general public and classmates from adjoining middle and high schools can enjoy. (At the top of the newsletter is an awesome banner that students made to hang on the school's fence that borders the empty property!) The club has created a petition to collect signatures from students, the PTA, and neighbors. If you'd like to help out in some way or get your name on the petition, contact the school's sustainability coordinator, Johanna at johanna@bns146.org or 646-808-5595.

East New York - There's a corner lot at 511 Liberty Avenue at Van Siclen Avenue that neighborhood gardeners and composters are interested in utilizing. Click the black 'organize' button in the middle of the lot's page to stay up to date on the planning of an upcoming meeting to discuss an neighborhood engagement strategy to access this piece of land under the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. You can also call Mary from 596 Acres at 718-316-6092 ext 3 or email mary@596acres.org.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Neighbor Addie is lives right next to the lot on snuggled in to Jefferson Avenue near Malcolm X Boulevard and would love to see it transformed in to some type of community space. She's already gotten in touch with the Department of Sanitation to clean the lot and connected with neighbors that are members of the local block association to see what they think of the idea. If you live in the area and want to help Addie take her next steps in holding a meeting, call her at 917-⁠749-⁠2183 or send her an email at addieny@gmail.com.

Lots with Access
Long Island City, Queens - This Sunday, March 5th head over to a mini-workday at Smiling Hogshead Ranch (5-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place) from 11 am to 3:30 pm to do some mulching, painting and organizing in preparation for planting!

East New York, Brooklyn - Ten Neighbors Garden (658 Saratoga at Blake Avenue) is about to start building and growing! If you're interested in joining this newly re-established garden shoot an email to Carlos at carlosdjdiaz@gmail.com to get looped in on this weekend's planning meeting.

Harlem, Manhattan - Harlem Valley Garden (197 West 134th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard) is holding a Spring Workday next Sunday, April 12th from 11am to 4pm to spruce up the garden. Head over to help deconstruct the greenhouse, throw down some mulch, build terraced beds, and more! Join the Facebook event here!

Flatbush, Brooklyn - Last Saturday Q Gardens (at the corner of East 18th Street and Church Avenue) had their first workday ever! Check out the write up and photos on their blog!

GARDENS AT RISK: MAPLE STREET IN COURT
Yesterday Maple Street Community Garden at Maple Street at Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn returned to Housing Court with their attorney, Paula Z. Segal of Mohen & Segal LLP, for a hearing on whether eviction papers were correctly served to the gardeners, who are challenging individuals claiming to be the owners of the lot that the garden is on. The judge adjourned the case until the morning of Monday, May 4th (mark your calendars!), when gardeners will return to court at 141 Livingston Street at Smith Street in Brooklyn. Until then, the gardeners will have more time to spend in their space and get started on some spring growing! (That's them pictured at the bottom of the newsletter!) Mohen and Segal is also representing Roger That Garden Project (at the corner of Rogers Street and Park Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn) and Eldert Street Garden (315 Eldert Street between Knickerbocker and Irving Streets, Bushwick, Brooklyn) both of which have been illegally locked out by private developers who do not have the right to evict the gardens.

AN INVENTORY OF WHAT'S POSSIBLE
On Friday, April 10th architects, historians, urban advocates, and City officials will present case studies of completed work, addressing design excellence and community priorities at An Inventory of What's Possible, hosted by the Institute for Public Architecture with Pratt Institute School of Architecture. Paula Z. Segal, 596 Acres' Director of Policy and Advocacy, will be discussing the intersection of community control of public resources and the need for housing in New York City in the morning session, Stabilizing Neighborhoods. She'll be putting the current offer that Housing Preservation and Development has made - to make City-owned lots available to private developers for $1, even those with gardens on them - in context of what we could be doing. Prepare to hear about Community Land Trusts and the potential for community-based real estate investment! Click here to get location details and to RSVP to this free event!

COLLABORATORS
East New York Farms! is looking for a few enthusiastic volunteers to help out at their annual compost giveaway event tomorrow, Friday, April 3rd from 4 pm to 7pm and this Saturday April 4th from 10 am to 1pm. They're looking for volunteers to give out information on composting, help local community gardeners move bags of compost and get to know the gang over at ENYF! Contact Deborah@eastnewyorkfarms.org if you can help out!

New York Restoration Project is reopening their weekly volunteer compost program for the year! Join them at Sherman Creek Park (along Harlem River Drive and Dyckman at 10th Avenue, Inwood, Manhattan) this Saturday, April 4th from 1 pm to 3:30 pm to help process all of the food scraps collected at the Inwood Greenmarket with organic waste recovered from NYRP’s landscaping operations. Learn about the process of composting while making a contribution to local waste reduction and greening efforts. Email volunteer@nyrp.org to get involved. Keep an eye on their calendar for monthly events!

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
We maintain a list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot. Groups working on lots that 596 Acres helped them access have already raised over $150,000 for their growing spaces. Have you received a grant or resources for your community project because you read about them here? Tell us about it! Shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org and let us know!

Need a Scale? 
We have some small scales for measuring food scraps or harvested produce. If you'd like one for your garden, shoot us an email at organizers@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ext 3.


yours,
596 Acres