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News From the Acres - April 24, 2014

24 April 2014
sharing land access experiences from around the world

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

What an amazing couple of days with fierce community land access advocates from cities around the world! Full report-back coming next week. For now, check out #vacantacres on twitter. 

Yesterday Paula was on the Brian Lehrer show discussing 596 Acres and how we use data to connect people with the tools to transform vacant land. Watch it here! The action starts at 20:17!

And speaking of data: as of last week, thanks to newly-freed MapPLUTO, OASIS, the map of everything about New York City that matters inside and outside government, has up-to-date ownership information for the first time since 2010. Read more about how we helped free MapPLUTO here.

Need seeds? America the Beautiful Fund has donated seeds for us to share! Shoot us an email atorganizers@596acres.org to set up a time to swing by our offices and grab some!

Special thanks to Marco Clausen of Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin, Germany for the photos in this newsletter.


NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Bushwick, Brooklyn - The large corner space at 544 Bushwick is going to be transferred from Housing Preservation and Development to the Parks Department! Neighbors who work at AHRC, a non-profit organization serving people with disabilities that sits around the corner, are in contact with the Parks Department and eager to see this transfer! They're looking forward to attending a future Space Meeting to discuss plans and ideas for new park. Call Yeimi or Maria at 718-455-5473 or email them atyeimi.korsberg@ahrcnyc.org and maria.hubbard@ahrcnyc.org.

Flatbush, Brooklyn - Q Gardens just received a $3,000 grant from Citizen's Committee of New York City to launch their future garden on East 18th Street at Church Ave. The group's architect is finalizing their drawings to submit to MTA (who owns the land) and their proposal packet is in the process of being approved! So close!

Canarsie, Brooklyn - Neighbor Nancy is excited to try to turn this large space on Farragut Road into a garden! She's been contacting the owner, Economic Development Corporation, but has been having a hard time getting some answers about whether the lot is available for use! Want to help? Give her a call at 305-794-9912or email at nancy.h.williams@gmail.com.

Harlem, Manhattan - Join the group organizing around the lot at 227 West 115th Street for a meeting in front of the lot this Saturday, April 26th at 1 pm. The group has recently has a site visit from GreenThumb, and is looking forward to making the space they've been working on for close to two years a reality!

Harlem, Manhattan - The Housing Preservation and Development-owned lot at 8th Avenue at West 146th Street could be the perfect place for a community project! Contact neighbor Michael atMichael.spina@gmail.com or 646-957-0347 to starting planning!

Lots with Access!
Patchen Community Square is holding a volunteer event TOMORROW Friday, April 24th from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. They'll be hosting a crowd of high school students from Green High School in Bushwick who will be creating individual garden beds and doing general clean up. If you have any supplies you can lend out for the day (especially cordless drills, shovels, and gloves!), the garden would really appreciate it! To arrange for a pick up of the supplies you'd like to lend out, contact Alison at alison.iven@gmail.com.

NYC COLLABORATORS
TOMORROW, Friday, April 25th The Silberman School of Social Work's East Harlem Documentary Club is screening the short documentary "Save the Farm" and holding a discussion on community gardens and public space in Harlem. The event kicks off at 6:30 pm and will be held at 2180 3rd Avenue at East 119th Street in Manhattan. It's free!

El Puente Green Light District is holding their annual Earth Day celebration, "Hope in Bloom / "Creciente Esperanza", next Tuesday, April 29th from 1 pm to 3:30 pm. Click here to view the participating garden locations and fun activities (three new gardens that were formed in the last year through the 596 Acres network!). 

New York Restoration Project's Million Trees Giveaway has begun! Click here to find out where in your borough you can register to pick up a free tree.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

yours,
596 Acres

A Free MapPLUTO Makes Us All Information Rich

17 April 2014

MapPLUTO is a mashup of geographic information and real estate data about New York City, the most powerful and comprehensive data set about the real New York that any government agency maintains. For ten years, until July 2013, the Department of City Planning charged $3000 per year for any organization or person to have access to an up-to-date version of the data for the whole city. This fee gave real estate developers, urban planners, architects, and engineers a huge information-access advantage over schools, community-based organizations, and residents seeking information about land in the city. We're so glad to have been part of changing that. 

As of last week, thanks to newly-freed MapPLUTO, OASIS, the map of everything about New York City that matters inside and outside government, has up-to-date ownership information for the first time since 2010. This is particularly useful for people who are looking to access to vacant private land and need a simple way to figure out who to talk to about potentially collaborating to improve the neighborhood. No more having to dig through the City property Register or the Department of Finance website! Got other ideas of how you want to play with the reality of the city? You can download MapPLUTO for free here right now. 

Last year, we partnered with students, scholars and advocacy organizations to create an environment in which a free MapPLUTO became inevitable. According to the Committee on Open Government, this kind of data is defined as “government records” under the FOIL, and government records are meant to be accessible to anyone who asks to see them. Because Planning is a City Agency, it is subject to Freedom of Information Law. We encouraged many people to submit FOIL requests for MapPLUTO. The request were all honored; each person who made one had to pay a $5 duplication fee and was rewarded with 5 jewel cases holding DVDs of city data, one per borough. Other advocates brought the issue up in the government offices where data policy was being written and we went to the press with it. And then, quietly, City Planning put up a link and made it possible to get the data directly, no letters and no DVDs needed! 

Now if everyone could only get their 10-years of fees back… 

News From the Acres - April 17, 2014

17 April 2014
free seeds!

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED
Need seeds? America the Beautiful Fund has donated seeds for us to share! If you're in the neighborhood come by our offices at Build It Green! Gowanus (69 Ninth Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn)TODAY before 5 pm or next Thursday, April 24th from 10 am to 6 pm for free seeds. Keep an eye on upcoming newsletter for more opportunities.

Our Symposium, Turning Vacant Acres into Community Resources, co-hosted with the Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School with advocates from all over the world, is coming together for next Tuesday & Wednesday, April 22 & 23, and we're really excited. It would be wonderful if you would join us for the closing reception even if you are not coming to the whole event. It'll be a chance to meet our guests and bask in the glow! Final event details here
Tuesday, April 22, 66 West 12th Street Room 510
1:30-5pm The New York City Experience (register here to be added to the waitlist)
Wednesday, April 2355 West 13th Street, Theresa Lang Center
8:30-6pm Sharing Best Practices with Transformation Facilitators from Around the World (register here; bigger room!)
6-7pm Wine & cheese RECEPTION. Registration is NOT required for the reception. Just come. With hugs.

Last night Harlem Valley Farm opened up their recently licensed space for us to host our Harlem General Meeting. We discussed approaching City agencies, shared stories of struggles with community boards, and chatted about grants. Several people who are just starting to organize around spaces near them learned a whole lot about the process.

Mark your calendars!
Next Friday, April 25th The Silberman School of Social Work's East Harlem Documentary Club is screening the short documentary "Save the Farm" and holding a discussion on community gardens and public space in Harlem. The event kicks off at 6:30 pm and will be held at 2180 3rd Avenue at East 119th Street. It's free!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Harlem, Manhattan - Organizer Rene let me know that the Manhattan Community Board 10 seems to be generally supportive of the future Mandela Park on West 126th Street, but have requested some petition signatures and business endorsements. They're so close!

Harlem, Manhattan - Last night neighbor Tamika attended our Harlem General Meeting to learn more about creating a garden for her neighbors and the Girl Scout Troop she leads. Now she's interested in 1650 Madison, where 2 years ago inquiring neighbors were told by the owner, Housing Preservation and Development, that there would be immediate development. After a year, it's still city-owned and there's no construction in sight! If you'd like to help out, give Tamika a call at 212-289-4476 or email tamika.l.mapp@gmail.com.

East New York, Brooklyn - Cherilyn, who is the Director of Youth at Gensis Homes, is speaking with GreenThumb about turning the Housing Preservation and Development-owned lot on Hinsdale Streetacross from their campus into a new community resource. Awesome! If you know any neighbors who might be interested in helping, email mary@596acres.org.

Lots with Access!
Patchen Community Square is building things and getting ready for soil! That's them pictured above!

Saint Nicholas Miracle Garden (330 Saint Nicholas Ave between 126th & 127th Street, Harlem) has upcoming compost drop off days every Sunday from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, a compost workshop on Tuesday, April 20th, and an upcoming workday on Sunday, April 27. For more information visithttp://www.stnicholasmiraclegarden.org/.

A Small Green Patch (344-48 Bergen Street, Brooklyn) will be staying on their space for another season! Development has been delayed until late 2015, and the group is applying to have their license with Housing Preservation and Development (the agency which owns the site) renewed. Hooray!

NYC COLLABORATORS
The New York City Community Garden Coaltion will be holding their monthly General MeetingTONIGHT, Thursday, April 17th, from  6:30 pm - 8:30 pm at Castle Gardens (625 West 140th Street, Manhattan). This will be an opportunity to hear about the latest on all things happening at community gardens around the city!

The Citizens Committee for New York City has awarded us a Love Your Block (LYB) Grant to Smiling Hogshead Ranch (25-30 Skillman Avenue at the corner of Pearson Place, Long Island City, Queens). Join their three-day clean up event! Click on the dates for links to the Facebook events: this Friday, April 18th from 12 pm to 6pm, Saturday, April 19 from 10 am to 3pm, and this Sunday, April 20thfrom 10am to 4pm.

Next Wednesday, April 23rd 7 pm to 10 pm The Fixers Collective and timeBanksNYC are hosting FIXER’S NIGHT, an event where you bring your broken items to be fixed or creatively re-used. This event is open to the public and held at BRIC Arts | Media House (647 Fulton St, Brooklyn). For more info contact jessie@timebanksnyc or call (212)-602-4462.

Members of Children's Magical Garden (157 Norfolk Street, Lower East Side) have filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court to reclaim the portion of the garden that is now slated for development. Check out this article in The Villager to learn more.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

yours,
596 Acres

News From the Acres - April 10, 2014

10 April 2014
spring clean up time is now!

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

TONIGHT and NEXT WEDNESDAY we're holding General Organizing Meetings for folks in different stages of their local land access campaigns! Working on a campaign and need some help figuring out next steps? Got a great success story to share? We're all in this together - making our city better and these meetings are a great way for all of us to move forward. Tonight in Brooklyn join us at the garden of Eagle Academy, Mott Hall, Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, and the Brooklyn Food Coalition (Fulton at Saratoga) from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Or on Wednesday, April 16th you can meet us in Harlem at Harlem Valley Garden (197 West 134th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.) from 6:30 to 8:30. Contact mary@596acres.org or 718-316-6092 ex 3 with questions.

TOMORROW at 6:30 pm we'll be gathering at our office at Build It Green! in Gowanus (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn) for the launch of Gracias por Guiarme: papel y teirra comunal / With Gratitude for the Guidance: paper and communal land and two other awesome books by our friends: The DIY Guide to Garbage and the Pragmatic Mind: Green Roofs by Atom Cianfarani and Beyond the White Guy / Mas alla del Hombre Blanco by the Biking Public ProjectFor more information about the books and the event, click here.

Community Land Access Advocacy Network

Our partner project LaOpenAcres shared a blog post about Philadelphia's new land bank by Amy Laura Cahn, staff attorney at the Garden Justice Legal Initiative of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and force behind our other partner projectGrounded in Philly. We love cross-pollination! Read it here!

 
NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Rockaway, Queens - In 2012 we hung a sign on this corner lot on Beach 43rd. Now members from the Full Gospel Tabernacle are teaming up with neighbor and Green City Force member Ashley to create a garden! Send Ashley an email atnyashley_08@yahoo.com to let her know you'd like to attend the first meeting.

South Richmond Hill, Queens - A Queens Urban Agriculture Coalition is forming! SustyQ(pioneering the future Anti-Cancer Garden at the corner of 124th Street and 107th Ave) is gathering gardeners and land stewards to share practices and support. Emailsustyq@gmail.com to join. You can also attend the upcoming meeting to plan out a design for the Anti-Cancer Garden this Sunday, April 13th from 2pm to 5pm at the ICA Community Center (127-16 Liberty Ave, Queens). RSVP by calling or texting 646-493-4326.

Canarsie, Brooklyn - There's over an acre of space at Farragut and East 105th Streetthat neighbors Keemanee and Nancy have each had their eyes on! Tonight both of them will meet at our General Meeting in Bed-Stuy and start discussing all the possibilities for this space. Give Keemanee (347-362-4470) or Nancy (305-794-9912) a call to get involved!

East New York, Brooklyn - Neighbors Alex and Jose told us that the lot at Thatford and Riverdale has been vacant for over 35 years! Now they're interested in making it something better! Contact Alex at 347-922-5285 to help out!

Lots with Access!
100 Quincy Community Garden (Franklin at Quincy, Brooklyn) is turning the first pile of their compost system this weekend! Head over to the garden (and bring a shovel or pitchfork if you have one) this Sunday, April 13 at 11 am to help out.

From here on out you can join 462 Halsey Community Garden (Halsey at Lewis, Brooklyn) every Saturday for workdays from 11 am to 4 pm. (That's them above rebuilding some of their beds and adding new soil!)

NYC COLLABORATORS
The Brooklyn Solid Waste Advisory Board is hosting "The Future of Compost: Options, Obstacles, Opportunities", a panel discussion and Q&A on Friday, April 25th from 10 am to 12 pm at Borough Hall (209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn). Gil Lopez, our friend from Smiling Hogshead Ranch, Christine Datz-Romero from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and others will be sharing their experiences.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

 

yours,
596 Acres


photo credit: Roger That Garden Project

New Book: Gracias Por Guiarme: Papel y tierra comunal/With Gratitude for the Guidance: Paper and communal land.

04 April 2014

Drawings by Daniel Eizirik. Text by Paula Z. Segal. 
A joint publication of 596 Acres and contorno, in English & Spanish. 

This book-documentary introduces the reader to different personal perspectives on communal land ownership in modern Mexico. Gracias por Guiarme: Paper y tierra communal is set in the state of Oaxaca and includes dialogues, drawings and historical research to introduce the reader to the crazy quilt that is the legal structure of land there two decades after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Meet resistance and resignation, hope and power and inspiration.  

Cover with silkscreen on hand-made Mexican paper in Oaxaca City by Maya Almaraz. High definition printing by Radix Media, a worker-owed printing cooperative in Brooklyn.

Limited first edition (108 copies). 
80 pages, 2 in color. 
2014.

Some notes on creation: http://contemplandolatierra.wordpress.com/

If you're in Brooklyn, join 596 Acres for a book launch on Friday, April 11, 2014, 6:00-8:00pm at the Build It Green Gowanus Re-Use Center at 69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn NY 11215. There will be tamales. And mezcal. And another awesome book by one of our friends: The DIY Guide to Garbage and the Pragmatic Mind: Green Roofs by atom cianfarani, with drawings by maya suess. 

 

Where are we sending it?


Image
DSCN3720

 

News From the Acres - April 3, 2014

03 April 2014
ever greening our neighborhoods!

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED
It was awesome to see so many familiar faces and make new friends at GreenThumb'sGrow Together Conference last weekend. Special thanks to members from 61 Franklin,Evergreen Lots (that's them, above!), and 100 Quincy for sharing their land access stories.

TONIGHT we're holding a Citywide General Meeting to meet folks from other neighborhoods and boroughs! Come join us at our office in Build It Green! in Gowanus (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn, off the F/G Smith/9th Streets Station) from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Groups with access to their spaces as well as those still working through the process will be present to share stories and best practices. Working on a campaign and needs some help figuring out next steps? Got a great success story to share? We're all in this together - making our city better and these meetings are a great way for all of us to learn together.

If you can't make it tonight (and happen to live in Weeksville or Bed-Stuy), join us next Thursday, April 10th for a General Meeting in Bed-Stuy at the garden of Eagle Academy, Mott Hall, Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, and Brooklyn Food Coalition(Fulton and Saratoga, Brooklyn) at 6:30 pm.



Mark your calendars! 
We'd also love help assembling books in our Gowanus office at the Build It Green! (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn) this Saturday, April 5 from 1 pm to 3:30 pm. No experience necessary! Come stitch and chat! RSVP: organizers@596acres.org.

Join 596 Acres as we present at The Parsnip Throwdown, a conversation about food and farming hosted by Farm Catskills on Monday, April 14th from 6 to 9 pm atSuperfine (126th Front Street, Brooklyn). More details here.
 
NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

East New York, Brooklyn - For over a year and a half we have been working with The Bangladeshi American Community Youth Development and Services to gain access to the MTA-owned space at 216 ForbellRecently we got great news: architect Runit Chhaya will be reviewing the plans Wendy Adringa of GreenLab Studio created for this space! New York Restoration Project is standing by to help with the build. The MTA is looking forward to reopening this former park as a resource to the surrounding community!

East New York, Brooklyn - 87 Legion is a vacant space that was formerly a local block association's garden until 2002. A neighbor named Elissa is now speaking to GreenThumb about re-opening this space to the public. If you're a neighbor who would like to help her get started or know someone from the former garden, shootMary@596acres.org an email to get connected!

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - There's a lot on Myrtle Avenue near Nostrand that is Housing Preservation an Development-owned nestled between two buildings. According to Lynne Cheng, Deputy Director at HPD, this might be a great spot for a community space! Marissa, a neighbor, has ideas of starting a garden and composting site! If you're interested or have other ideas to share, contact her at 727-504-3948 ormarissa.provenza@gmail.com.

Corona, Queens - Carmen and Rena are working to create a garden on the Department of Transportation-owned site that's mapped as part of the road on 111th Street. Last week they drafted a letter to the DOT Commissioner in hopes that until the City decides to actually expand the road, this site can be used by the community! Fingers crossed!

South Richmond Hill, Queens - Do you live near the corner of 124th Street and 107th Ave and interested in joining the future Anti-Cancer Garden? Attend the upcoming meeting to plan out a design for the space on Sunday, April 13th from 2pm to 5pm at the ICA Community Center (127-16 Liberty Ave, Queens). RSVP by calling or texting 646-493-4326 or emailing sustyq@gmail.com.

NYC COLLABORATORS
Maple Street Community Garden (237 Maple Street at Rogers Ave) is hosting workdaysthis Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6 at 11am. There are more raised beds to construct and cleaning to do. Stop by to lend a hand!

Check out the free upcoming events and workshops hosted by The New York Botanical Garden's Bronx Green-Up program. There's everything from pruning trees and starting seeds, to garden workdays and farm tours!

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

 

yours,
596 Acres

Register for Turning Vacant Acres into Community Resources HERE

29 March 2014

Tuesday, April 22 - Wednesday, April 23   

This two-day event will engage advocates, policy makers and other stakeholders in best practices for community access to land, focusing on New York City (April 22) and then expanding the conversation to cities around the world (April 23). 

Feel free to distribute this widely to your networks! Vacant Acres is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

NOTE: You will need to register for each day of the event separately as capacity is limited. Follow links below to register and click on the map to see details about where participants are coming from.  

More details:  http://596acres.org/en/news/2014/03/01/vacant-acres-symposium-advocates-from-all-over-the-world/


April 22: The New York Experience (REGISTER HERE)
66 West 12th Street, Room 510
1:30-5:00pm, starting with snacks & registration


April 23: Sharing best practices from urban vacant land transformation facilitators around the world (REGISTER HERE)
55 W 13th Street
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
9:00am-5:00pm 


News From the Acres - March 27, 2014

27 March 2014
south bronx lots, labeled!

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED
This past Tuesday we labeled 7 lots in the South Bronx with the help of two wonderful volunteers. We chatted with neighbors passing by and have already received several phone calls and emails in response to the signs! While we were visiting 405 West 161st Street (pictured above) we spoke with a woman from the church on the corner who was excited to announce to her congregation that a community space is possible. Neighbors on the opposite site of the lot would like to help too! To see more photos and links to the lots' pages, check out our album.



Grant deadlines approaching!
Grants from The National Recreation and Park AssociationSeeds of Change, and The Citizen's Committee of New York City are due in the next few days! Scroll down to the Green for Your Green section below for more info.

Mark your calendars!
Join us this Saturday, March 29th at GreenThumb's 29th Annual Grow Together Conference at Hostos Community College in the Bronx (500 Grand Concourse) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Come by our table and say hi, and stay for our 2 pm workshop where new land stewards will be talking about their recently successful land access campaigns!

Come join us at our office in Build It Green! in Gowanus (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn) on Thursday, April 3rd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm for a Citywide General Meeting to meet folks from other neighborhoods and boroughs! Groups with access to their spaces as well as those still working through the process will be present to share stories and best practices. Working on a campaign and needs some help figuring out next steps? Got a great success story to share? We're all in this together - making our city better and these meetings are a great way for all of us to learn together. 

We'd also love help assembling books in our Gowanus office at the Build It Green! (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn) on Saturday, April 5 from 1 pmto 3:30 pm. No experience necessary! Come stitch and chat! RSVP: organizers@596acres.org.

Join 596 Acres as we present at the Parsnip Throwdown, a conversation about food and farming hosted by Farm Catskills on Monday, April 14th from 6 to 9 pm at Superfine (126th Front Street, Brooklyn). More details here.
 
NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Morrisania, South Bronx - Luis lives next door to the lot at 463 East 159th Street saw the signs we put up on Tuesday and gave us a call! He'd love to start a garden and is interested in holding a meeting ASAP. Call him at 718-710-2526 or email crystalee02@yahoo.com.

Coney Island, Brooklyn - Brooklyn Community Board 13 has given their full support for a future garden at 2427 Mermaid! Become a watcher to stay updated about a future meeting or call Minico at 917-273-4406!

Flatbush, Brooklyn - Q Gardens has received a letter of support from MTA (who owns the site) for a grant to fund a future composting system. Hooray! Runit Chhaya from Grain Collective is conducting his final review of the drawings that Amy Hilliker of Hilliker Landscape Designcreated for the space before stamping them for final submission to MTA. We connected the group with the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, who are standing by to sign a lease for the space on behalf of the Q Gardens stewards; it looks like that lease-signing is on the horizon!

Harlem, Manhattan - A local landscape designer and seasoned gardener is interested in creating a safe space for kids to play with your help! If you live close to the lot on 8th Ave between West 146th and 147th give Michael a call at 646-957-0274 or email him at michael.spina@gmail.com.

Lots with Access
Harlem, Manhattan - Looking for a garden to join? The recently formed Harlem Valley Garden is planning on creating bike parking, vertical herb and vegetable gardens, certified compost project, community picnic area, children's play area, and more! Contactharlemvalleygarden@gmail.com for information on becoming a member or to subscribe to the newsletter.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Myrtle Village Green is accepting applications for gardening memberships! Find the request form here.

NYC COLLABORATORS
The Elmhurst Community Garden is having their first garden general meeting of the year this Saturday, March 29 at 10am. Come see how the garden fared through the long winter and help plan new projects for the upcoming season!  Email elmhurstcommunitygarden@gmail.com for more information.

The South Bronx will soon have a farmers' market! Attend the organizing meeting this Sunday, March 30 from 6 - 7:30 at Community Connections for Youth (369 East 149 Street, between Melrose & Courtlandt, 7th Floor) to participate in next steps of planning and discuss the first farm that has signed on! Contact SouthBronxFarmersMarket@gmail.com or call 516-418-6355.

Compost for Brooklyn (Newkirk and East 8th Street, Kensington, Brooklyn) is looking for Open Hours volunteers to facilitate food scrap drop off, interact with community members visiting the garden, keep participation stats, and tend to the compost tumblers. No experience necessary! They're looking for volunteers on Thursdays from 1pm to 3:30pm through the end of June and specific Saturdays from 11am to 1 pm. To sign up for a volunteer shift or learn more, please email Natalia at snucre@optonline.net.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has grants for community gardens that benefit low-income families. They give $2,500 to $7,500 to be used to build/expand community garden facilities or programs that result in the donation of produce. Deadline TOMORROW March 28th, 2014.

The Citizen's Committee of New York City's Community-Scale Composting Grant awards up to $750 dollars to begin a composting system, or expand upon an existing one. Deadline TOMORROW March 28th, 2014.

The Seeds of Change Grant Program offers two $20,000 grants and fifteen $15,000 grants to support sustainable, community-based farming and gardening programs. Deadline THIS MONDAY, March 31st, 2014.

yours,
596 Acres


Bronx Got Labeled - March 2014

26 March 2014

 

Yesterday we labeled 7 lots in the South Bronx with the help of two wonderful volunteers. We chatted with neighbors passing by and have already received several phone calls and emails in response to the signs! More photos and links to the lots' pages here


News From the Acres - March 20, 2014

20 March 2014
two more fences unlocked!

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED
Months ago Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation was granted a loan from the USDA to transform two vacant lots into gardens this year. With the help of our online map, they identified two Housing Preservation and Development-owned sites in East New York and today the gates were unlocked! If you live in near 9 Chestnut (pictured above, photo credit: Lauren Brown) or 330 Ashford and would like to get involved, call Lauren at  801-915-0052 or email laurenb@cypresshills.org.

Yesterday Paula lead a workshop hosted by EcoPracticum with volunteers from Eagle Academy, Mott Hall, Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger & Brooklyn Food Coalition's garden in Bed-Stuy. Scroll down to the bottom of the newsletter to see the photo attendees checking out our broadsheets!

Happy first day of Spring! We love sharing good news with you and hope that you can help us continue to create it! Please join us as a monthly donor.



Mark your calendars!
We're labeling lots in the South Bronx this Tuesday, March 25th around 2 pm! We'll hit up this series of lots owned by Housing Preservation and Development that were planned as a public park but never was built. If you'd like to join us, or if there's a lot near you that needs a sign, let us know!

Saturday, March 29th we'll be tabling at GreenThumb's 29th Annual Grow Together Conference held at Hostos Community College in the Bronx (500 Grand Concourse) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Come by our table and say hi, and stay for our 2 pm workshop where new land stewards will be talking about their recently successful land access campaigns!

Come join us at our office in Build It Green! in Gowanus (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn) onThursday, April 3rd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm for a Citywide General Meeting to meet folks from other neighborhoods and boroughs! We'll be sharing stories and troubleshooting any sticky points in the process. Stay tuned for details about our upcoming General Meetings in Harlem (Wednesday, April 16 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm)and East New York.

We'd love help assembling books in our Gowanus office at the Build It Green! (69 Ninth Street, Brooklyn) on Saturday, April 5 from 1 pm. to 3:30 pm. No experience necessary! Come stitch and chat! RSVP: organizers@596acres.org.

Join 596 Acres as we present at the Parsnip Throwdown, a conversation about food and farming hosted by Farm Catskills on Monday, April 14th from 6 to 9 pm atSuperfine (126th Front Street, Brooklyn). More details here.

596 Acres is teaming up with The Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School for Vacant Acres, a 2-day symposium on April 22nd and 23rd that will bring practitioners from around the world together to discuss transforming vacant land into community resources. For more information and to register, click here.
NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Rockaway, Queens - This large lot across the street from the Full Gospel Tabernacle and has been vacant for over ten years. If you'd like to join the neighbors and church-goers who would like to see it turned into a garden, shoot Keisha an email at kfrazier89@gmail.com.

Claremont Village, Bronx - Jose and Krystal would love to start organizing around this lot on Hoe Avenue that tucked into a block full of houses. To help out give Krystal (347-734-4863) or Jose (718-300-3643) a call!

East New York, Brooklyn - A few days ago we got an email from a neighbor near 87 Legion that would love to start a garden. Housing Preservation and Development, the agency that owns the site, has said that interim use is a possibility! Emailmary@596acres.org or call 718-316-6092 ex 3 to get connected to the neighbors!

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Do you live near Myrtle Avenue? Have you seen this lot between two buildings near Nostrand? Lynne Cheng, Deputy Director in Brooklyn for Housing Preservation and Development, the agency that owns the lot, suggested that this might be a great place to pursue a license for a garden. Start organizing! Give us a call if you need help: 718-316-6092 ex 3.

Lots with Access
Rockaway, Queens - Edgemere Organic Farm is constructing a greenhouse on the space they share with Bed-Stuy Coalition Against Hunger. Check out their latest photos, and if you're in the Rockaways, stop by for a visit!

NYC COLLABORATORS
Wendy Adringa of GreenLab Studio (who created the amazing layout for the future garden at 216 Forbell) was asked to create a  ten-foot square garden for Dwell magazine and the result was this Urban Survivor Garden. Stay tuned: GreenLab will be teaming up with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy in the upcoming months to create similar mini gardens!

The New York Community Garden Coalition is having a general meeting on TONIGHT,March 20th, from 6:30 - 8:30pm at the Neighborhood Preservation Center (232 East 11th Street, Manhattan). GreenThumb's new director, Nancy Kohn will be a special guest!

Have extra food scraps with no where to drop them? Compost for Brooklyn will be hosting four upcoming drop off days on Thursdays from 1pm-3:30 pm and Saturdays from 11am-1pm at their garden at Newkirk and East 8th Street, Brooklyn. Find more details here or email compostforbrooklyn@gmail.com.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has grants for community gardens that benefit low-income families. They give $2,500 to $7,500 to be used to build/expand community garden facilities or programs that result in the donation of produce. Deadline March 28th, 2014.

The Citizen's Committee of New York City's Community-Scale Composting Grant awards up to $750 dollars to begin a composting system, or expand upon an existing one.Deadline March 28th, 2014.

The Seeds of Change Grant Program offers two $20,000 grants and fifteen $15,000 grants to support sustainable, community-based farming and gardening programs.Deadline is March 31st, 2014.

yours,
596 Acres

News From the Acres - March 13, 2014

13 March 2014

 

maps make change.

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

This past Saturday we were at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Making Brooklyn Bloom, passing out broadsheets and answering questions about the vacant land in your neighborhood. Nestled between The Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust and Roger That  Garden Project, we also had friends to chat with!
 
Today Paula is headed to London to present at a conference at London School of Economics Cities in London titled "Urban Data: from fetish object to social object." Speakers will present cases in which local communities have used participatory data-gathering and mapping practices to open up questions of distributional justice, make claims against power, and gain a sense of themselves as having agency and competence with networked tools. It's awesome to think of our work in this global context!

Mark your calendars!
Save the date for Saturday, March 29th at GreenThumb's 29th Annual Grow Together Conference held at Hostos Community College in the Bronx (500 Grand Concourse) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Come by our table and say hi, and stay for one of many workshops!

New Grants and Deadlines!
Scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter to our Green For Your Green section!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Jamaica, Queens - Wayne, our friend from 743 Blake Street, noticed this lot at 106-39 Guy R Brewer Blvd near the South Jamaica Queens Library. He called the lot's owner, Housing Preservation and Development, and found out that there are no immediate plans for the space. If you live in Southeast Queens, start talking to your neighbors! Also, head over to the library (108-41 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Jamaica) on Thursday, March 20th from 4:30 to 6:30 pm for a panel discussion on urban green space development and a documentary on Dr. George Washington Carver. Call Wayne at 206-376-0019 or email info@greenthescene.comyr.com.

Harlem, Manhattan - Last Saturday morning Ryan, who is organizing the creation of 126th Street Community Garden and Apiary, gathered over 80 signatures from supportive neighbors! Last night the project was presented to the Manhattan Community Board 10's Parks, Recreation, and Transportation Committee who loved the idea! Next stop: the general board meeting on March 26th!

Harlem, Manhattan - John let us know that Housing Preservation and Development, the owner of this little lot snuggled in the middle of East 108th Street, does not currently have development plans! Contact John attriplemgarden@gmail.com to join the planning!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Last week Hooper Street Park Garden presented in front of Brooklyn Community Board 1's general board and received full support! They are collecting a few letters from local electives and will be submitting their application to GreenThumb soon! Also, the group is still looking for a volunteer horticulturalist or landscape designer. If you know of one, you can email hooperstreetpark@gmail.com

Lots with Access
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Join 100 Quincy Community Garden this Saturday, March 15th from 11 am to noon for a general meeting at the garden (Quincy at Franklin St). There's still time to become a member - attend to learn more!

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has grants for community gardens that benefit low-income families. They give $2,500 to $7,500 to be used to build/expand community garden facilities or programs that result in the donation of produce. Deadline March 28th, 2014.

The Citizen's Committee of New York City's Community-Scale Composting Grant awards up to $750 dollars to begin a composting system, or expand upon an existing one. Deadline March 28th, 2014.

The Seeds of Change Grant Program offers two $20,000 grants and fifteen $15,000 grants to support sustainable, community-based farming and gardening programs. Deadline is March 31st, 2014.

yours,
596 Acres


News From the Acres - March 6, 2014

06 March 2014
we hit two branches of government this week!

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

Last Friday we attended a pretty confusing city council Housing and Buildings Oversight Hearing on Vacant Property in New York City, at which newly appointed commissioners from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Finance were unable to answer many basic questions about NYC's vacant land and buildings. This morning Mary, our organizer, had a hopeful conversation with a super helpful staff person working on HPD property in Brooklyn, Lynne Cheng (who will be happy to hear from any of you about HPD-owned land in your neighborhood). Ms. Cheng told us that she recognizes that there are many parcels of HPD land that are just not suitable for development and are great opportunities to be turned into community spaces; she is going to work on making a list of those parcels so we can even better direct your organizing efforts. Right on! And in the meantime, we still have our map. To read our Director Paula's testimony from City Council's NYC Vacant Land Oversight Hearing, click here.

Yesterday we headed to Brooklyn Borough Hall to support the New York City Community Garden Coalition at their press conference to announce their lawsuit against the City of New York for the wrongful destruction of the Boardwalk Community Garden in Coney Island two months ago. That's the supporters pictured above!
 

Mark your calendars!
Join us at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Making Brooklyn Bloom on this Saturday, March 8th. 596 Acres will be there joined by members of the Roger That Community Garden!

Save the date for Saturday, March 29th at GreenThumb's 29th Annual Grow Together Conference held at Hostos Community College in the Bronx (500 Grand Concourse) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Come by our table and say hi, and stay for one of many workshops!

Community Land Access Advocacy Network!
Congratulations to 3000acres! Their new map online (inspired by ours) and first food production space in Melbourne, Australia, have been born! Check them out:www.3000acres.org!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Harlem, Manhattan - John reached out to us and would love to turn this little lot snuggled in the middle of East 108th Street into a garden, but he also has several other lots in mind! If you live in Harlem and are looking for a place to grow, reach out to him attriplemgarden@gmail.com or contact Mary, 596 Acres' organizer at 718-316-6092, ex. 3.

Harlem, Manhattan - 227 West 115th Street will be presenting in front of Manhattan's Community Board 10's Parks, Rec, & Transportation Committee next Wednesday, March 12th at 6:30 pm at 215 W. 125th Street, on the 4th Floor! If you're a neighbor or connected to a local institution that wants to get growing this spring, contact Jonathan atjonathanriedel@gmail.com or 239-898-0317 to join!

Harlem, Manattan - The first meeting of the future 126th Street Community Garden and Apiaryis tomorrow evening at 7 pm in front of the lot (126th Street between Lennox and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd). Meet the neighbors, hear about their incredible plans for this space, and prepare for an upcoming presentation at the Manhattan Community Board 10 meeting!

Melrose, Bronx - Neighbors who leave near the corner lot at 840 Tinton have interest in creating a 'jam garden', a place for music, arts & crafts, and just getting together! They already have the full support of the nearby church, too. Contact Kesha at electriccamp@gmail.com or646-351-5514 to get involved.

East New York, Brooklyn - Keemanee, a neighbor near this lot on Farragut Road, has dreams of creating a community garden that can team up with a nearby daycare and host a compost and recycling drop off site! If you live nearby and would like to help out, watch the page to get updates about the first meeting!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Last week Hooper Street Park Garden presented in front of Brooklyn Community Board 1's Parks and Waterfront Committee and received support! Next Tuesday, March 11th the neighbors will be presenting in front of the general board for final approval. Also, the group would love to be connected with a volunteer horticulturalist or landscape designer. If you know of one, you can email hooperstreetpark@gmail.com

Lots with Access
Greenpoint, Brooklyn - 61 Franklin Street Garden is holding their first meeting of the 2014 season! Join them Wednesday, March 12th at 7pm. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for details of the location.

Bushwick, Brooklyn - Help support Evergreen Lots and neighbors at their El Garden Fundraiser! There will be raffle prizes, tunes by DJ Ron, drink specials and more! Head to theTradesman (222 Bushwick Ave) from 7 pm to 12 am.

NYC COLLABORATORS
This section of our newsletter highlights some offerings and events from our core collaborators.

The Citizen's Committee for New York City is partnering with the Lawyers Alliance for New York to offer a new workshop! At "To Be or Not To Be a 501(c)(3)" will explore the questions ofthe pros and cons of becoming a 501(c)(3) and much more! However, it will not cover how to become a 501(c)(3). Join them Tuesday, March 25, 6pm – 7:30pm in Midtown Manhattan. The workshop is free, but space is limited. To RSVP and learn more, contact Wilfredo Florentino: wflorentino@citizensnyc.org or call 212-822-9568.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

yours,
596 Acres

Vacant Acres Symposium: Advocates From All Over the World!

01 March 2014

The Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School is teaming up with 596 Acres and practitioners from around the world for a 2-day symposium about transforming vacant land into community resources. Neat!

APRIL 22, 2014: THE NEW YORK EXPERIENCE
66 West 12th Street, Room 510

1:30 pm 1:45 pm 
Coffee and Registration

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm
Welcome
Alan McGowan, Chair and Professor, Environmental Studies,The New School, NYC 
Paula Z. Segal, Director, 596 Acres, Brooklyn

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Identifying Opportunities & Facilitating Transformations: Creating Oases in All Our New Yorks

Moderated by Laura J. Lawson, Chair and Professor of Landscape Architecture, Rutgers University, New Jersey

The history of community gardening in NYC
Haja and Cindy Worley, Gardeners, NYC Community Garden Coalition

NYC’s unique program for making municipal land available for community use
Nancy Kohn, Director, NYC Parks Department GreenThumb

Design solutions for transforming community gardens into inclusive space
Martin Barry, Green Infrastructure Fellow, Design Trust for Public Space

Potential incentives for private land-owners to make their land available to neighbors
Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, New York State Assembly
 

Running a farm on a privately-owned vacant lot in Brooklyn
Meera Bhat, Farmer, Prospect Farm, Brooklyn

3:15pm 4:00 pm
Protecting Community Access to Land: Keeping Our Greens

Moderated by Paula Z. Segal, Director, 596 Acres, Brooklyn

The role of public trust doctrine & litigation
Legal Teams and Plaintiffs from the LaGuardia Corner & Boardwalk Community Gardens:
Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director, NYC Community Garden Coalition
Joel Kupferman, Esq., Attorney for Coney Island Boardwalk Garden, Brooklyn
Ellen Horan, Gardener, LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Manhattan
Sara Vacchiano, Esq., Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Attorneys for LaGuardia Corner Gardens

Transparency, accountability & legislation
Raymond Figueroa Reyes, Board President, NYC Community Garden Coalition

4:00 pm 5:00 pm 
Establishing Long Term Management: In Perpetuity

Moderated by Robert Crauderueff, Crauderueff & Associates, Inc.

Non-profit ownership and the role of design and capital projects
Chris Vanterpool, Director of Capital Administration, New York Restoration Project

The land trust model of protection for community property
Demetrice Mills, Board President, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust

Combining housing and community space through a community land trust on the Lower East Side
Katy Lyle, Board Member, Cooper Square Community Land Trust

Building capacity for more community property in NewYork City
Arvernetta Henry, Member, Picture the Homeless, NYC Community Land Initiative 

 

APRIL23, 2014:
SHARING BEST PRACTICES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
55 West 13th Street,Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
8:30 am – 9:00 am
Coffee and Registration

9:00 am – 9:30 am
Welcome
Laura Auricchio, Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies,The New School, NYC USA Paula Z. Segal, Director, 596 Acres, Brooklyn NY USA

9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Session 1: Identifying Opportunities & Facilitating Transformations

Moderated by Paula Z. Segal, Director, 596 Acres, Brooklyn NY USA

Gaelle Janvier, Project Director, Alternatives, Montreal Canada
Chelina Odbert, Co-founder, Executive Director, Kuonkey Design Initiative, OH USA Jeffrey Kruth, Urban Designer, KSU Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, OH USA
Bob Grossman, Director, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, PA USA
Gil Lopez, Co-founder, Smiling Hogshead Ranch, Queens NY USA
Israel Cruz,T.I.L.L. Program Manager, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, CA USA
Sara Longo, Doctoral Candidate, UC Davis Department of Human Ecology, Davis CA USA Mark Glassock, Policy Analyst, Community Health Councils, Inc., Los Angeles CA USA Thomas Gooch, Co-founder, 3,000 Acres, Melbourne Australia
Sanjay Kharod, Executive Director, New Orleans Food and Farm Network, LA USA

12:00 pm 12:30 pm
Session 1 Activity

12:30 pm 1:30 pm
Lunch Break

1:30 pm 2:30 pm
Session 2: Protecting Community Access to Land

Moderated by Mark Glassock, Policy Analyst, Community Health Councils, Los Angeles CA USA

Becky Lundberg Witt, Staff Attorney, Baltimore Community Law Center MD USA Aissa Richardson, President,African American United Fund, Philadelphia PA USA Marco Clausen, Co-founder, Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin Germany
Farida Vis, Research Fellow, Everyday Growing Cultures, Manchester UK
Aresh Javadi, Executive Director, and members of More Gardens!, NYC USA

2:30 pm 3:00 pm
Session 2 Activity

3:00 pm 4:00 pm 
Session 3: Developing Models for Predictable Land Tenure

Moderated by Amy Laura Cahn, Garden Justice Legal Initiative, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, PA USA

Johanna Rosen, Program Associate, Farms for Farmers Program, Equity Trust, Amherst MA USA
Miriam Avins, Executive Director, Baltimore Green Space, MD USA
Thiago Soares Barbizan, Architect and Urban Planner, Cidades Sem Fome/Cities Without Hunger, Sao Paulo Brasil

Jennifer Kates, Esq., Legislative Assistant, City Council, Philadelphia PA USA

4:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Session 3 Activity

4:30 pm 5:30 pm
Session 4: Establishing Long Term Land Management

Moderated by Sanjay Kharod, Executive Director, New Orleans Food and Farm Network, LA USA

Matt Delsesto, Urban Activist and Scholar-Practitioner, Boston Food Project, MA USA
Kevin Egolf, Director of Business Development, Iroquois Valley Farms, NY USA
Ben Helphand, Executive Director, NeighborSpace, Chicago IL USA
Jacqueline Hand, Esq., Professor of Law, Univ. of Detroit Mercy School of Law, MI USA
Shane Bernardo, Outreach Coordinator, Earthworks Urban Farm, Detroit MI USA

5:30 pm 6:00 pm
Session 4 Activity

6:00 pm 7:00 pm 
Close and Reception

Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served 

NYC Vacant Property Oversight Hearing Testimony

28 February 2014

Testimony to the Committee on Housing and Buildings, Vacant Property In NYC

Hello Chair Williams and members of the Committee. My name is Paula Segal and I am the Director of 596 Acres, New York City's community land access advocacy organization. Thank you for opening up the conversation about vacant properties in New York City and giving me an opportunity to speak. I am going to focus my remarks on vacant land in New York City. I am glad to see that other advocates are here to address the opportunities presented by other types of vacant property.

I will divide my comments into and make recommendations for three distinct types of vacant land, as found in our neighborhoods: (1) vacant lots in the City portfolio, (2) privately-owned vacant lots, and (3) lots that will soon be acquired by the City in neighborhoods impacted by Superstorm Sandy.   

City-Owned Vacant Lots
Across the five boroughs, there are approximately 540 acres of city owned vacant land. This land is divided among different agencies, with the bulk of it in the inventory of DCAS (510 lots, 185 acres), HPD (1025 lots, 181 acres) and SBS (42 lots, 80 acres). MTA has an at least additional 99 acres of vacant land in New York City; while not a city agency per se, their vacant land impacts New Yorkers in much the same way. 

The primary area of work of 596 Acres is identifying opportunities for New Yorkers to shape their own neighborhoods; facilitating the transformation of city-owned vacant land into community spaces is a big part of this. In the last two years, twenty groups we have worked with in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens have gotten permission to change 5 acres of weeds behind fences into flower gardens, play spaces, vegetable bounties and other community resources. Some of these groups have direct agreements with city agencies that allow them to use the land and others are licensed through the GreenThumb program, either as temporary interim-use spaces that remain in the jurisdiction of other agencies or as groups managing lots that have been transferred to the Parks Department. We are working with approximately 120 other groups who are exploring the potential for transformation latent in 52 acres of vacant lots in their neighborhoods.

We have been able to find lots that are good candidates for such transformations because they are too small to build on without a variance under the modern building code -- 100 Quincy Community Garden in Bed Stuy, formed last year, is one such lot which was formerly in Housing Preservation and Development's inventory; St Nicholas Miracle Garden in Harlem, which was a school garden in the 1930s and then a sliver of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services portfolio for half a century before becoming a garden again last year, is another. These transformations are a testament to the fact that not all land in the city's portfolio presents a future opportunity for housing development.

I urge this committee to require the agencies to examine their inventory and transfer lots that are not well-positioned for development to other agencies – such as the Parks Department – that can turn them into public benefits. Our analysis of the city's property portfolio is based on datasets available through the open data portal and direct input from New Yorkers. I hope that our map, which you can see at 596acres.org, will be useful to this committee as it looks closely at the City’s vacant land portfolio.[1]

One strategy that we use is actually labeling public lots so that neighbors are the first to know that these spaces present an organizing opportunity for open space or other community-enriching development. We urge the City to adopt this successful tactic to make information about public land transparent and available through signage that announces that the land is publicly owned and suggests ways that neighbors can get access to it. These signs can announce programs like GreenThumb and the DOT Plaza program directly on the locations that could participate in these programs and directly to the people who already walk by those places.

On the other hand, some land in the city portfolio is extremely right for development. We urge the Committee to explore strategies for making sure that development on these sites is as strongly influenced by people who live and work near them as possible. One suggestion for how to enable greater public participation: require developers to put up signs on sites where development is proposed or where land use review is imminent in advance of public comments being accepted on the proposals. Signs should clearly indicate that input from local communities is invited and how it will be accepted.

Another suggestion is having the Council review all imminent development proposals for Community Benefit Agreement opportunities and make sure that, where such opportunities exist, already-organized groups like tenants’ associations, churches and block associations, are the first to know and get training about the legal mechanisms involved.

Privately-Owned Vacant Lots

There are over 2,400 acres of vacant privately-owned land in New York City.[2] These are sites that present opportunities for collaboration between the owners and neighbors. We support neighbors who reach out to us when they try to negotiate for access to these lots in their neighborhoods as well, with some success. I would ask you to help incentivize this collaboration and am pleased that the Council considered a resolution last year in support of state legislation that will permit the Department of Finance to create a new tax abatement program - modeled on the not-for-profit property tax abatement - for owners who let their lots’ neighbors use them to create temporary parks, farms and open spaces. This program will reward owners who work with their lots’ community and neighbors to convert an underutilized fenced off lot into a resource.[3] With such a reward, it will be easier for more private owners of the holes in our city to opt into cooperation with their neighbors. 

It’s important to note that this tax inventive goes hand in hand with the Mayor’s proposed plan to tax vacant land to encourage development. Together, they shift the incentives away from private owners’ warehousing unused land in areas zoned for residential construction with no benefit to the public.

Acquisition for Redevelopment in the Wake of Superstorm Sandy

Land that will be acquired by the City of New York will become public land and presents opportunities for neighbors to control development in communities where Sandy made a lack of control the norm. I hope this committee will explore legislative options for creating conditions for equitable use of this public resource.  

Following Sandy, the federal government set aside funds for the State and City of New York to acquire destroyed or damaged properties. Some funds will be used to buy homes for the creation of open space that will serve as a buffer against future storms. Other funds will be used for an acquisition program that earmarks lots for city redevelopment. This redevelopment program is still unwritten and I urge the members of this Committee to focus attention on it as a neighborhood redevelopment program early this year. New development in Sandy-affected areas should be mixed-income and reflect pre-Sandy income levels – not so-called “middle-income” levels that are well out of the means of neighborhood residents and actual middle-income New Yorkers. Preference should be given to displaced residents. Long-term affordability mechanisms should be put in place.

We have a unique opportunity to redevelop these areas in ways difficult to implement in other New York City neighborhoods. Block grant funding can be used to support new community land trusts and non-profit, neighborhood-based development corporations. These trusts and developers must be under a mandate to create and permanently maintain housing that is affordable to neighborhood residents who have been displaced by the disaster or by the unworkable economics of the storm recovery process.

With the opportunity to redevelop large swaths of land, the incoming administration has an incredible opportunity to stabilize New York City’s low- and moderate-income coastal neighborhoods. Site design and community engagement in the design process will shape New York City’s future social and ecological resiliency. It will determine whether the storm leaves in its wake safer communities for those who experienced it first hand or an opportunity for speculation and developer-driven change along our coastlines. 

Thank you very much for accepting my testimony today.

 



[1] See http://596acres.org/en/about/our-data/ for a step-by-step description of how we have transformed the lines of spreadsheet data into information neighbors can use.

[2] These numbers are from Columbia Urban Design Lab’s report “The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City: Growing Capacity, Food Security, & Green Infrastructure,” available at http://www.urbandesignlab.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/urban_agriculture_nyc.pdf (2012). There’s a caveat here: the Lab’s numbers turned out to be about twice the amount of public vacant land in reality when we subjected the city’s data to a more refined process (see http://596acres.org/en/about/our-data/); we’d love to do the same for private lots but need some fiscal support to be able to do it. But even if we half the numbers above, that is an awful lot of acres.  If we had support to refine the city’s data regarding private vacant lots, the process would look like this: (1) We would start with MapPLUTO, which is the most complete and up-to-date land use database for the city. (2) We would filter the data to find just the parcels with private owners that have no buildings on them. (3) Someone would then look at each parcel individually using satellite imagery and Google Streetview to ensure that the parcel is actually not in use.

[3] See The Sustainable Economies Law Center, Policies for a Shareable City #11: Urban Agriculture, available at http://www.shareable.net/blog/policies-for-a-shareable-city-11-urban-agriculture (2011). Here’s California’s version of a tax incentive bill, passed in 2013: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB551 (cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are implementing this enabling legislation through ordinance now).

News From the Acres - February 27, 2014

27 February 2014
"After everything I went through with the other lot, all the hard work... I'm so ready to do it all over again!"

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

This past weekend Feedback Farms moved from 348 Bergen to their new home at 123-159 Ingraham Street, where they will be providing fresh vegetables and gardening opportunities to the 400 residents of the The Doe Fund's largest facility in Bushwick. That's their beds being stacked and hauled away, above!
 

Mark your calendars!
Save the date for Brooklyn Botanical Garden's Making Brooklyn Bloom on Saturday, March 8th. 596 Acres will be there joined by members of the Roger That Community Garden!

NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Warsoff Wilds has submitted a proposal packet to The Department of Sanitation's Real Estate office in hopes of being granted access to start a project on this acre of City-owned land. Assemblymember Joseph Lentol has written a letter to Mayor de Blasio about the project!

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - Join 1187 Fulton next Wednesday, March 5th as they present in front of Brooklyn Community Board 3's Parks, Arts & Culture Committee at Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton, 5th Floor) at 6:30 pm.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Neighbors have partnered with Nuestros Ninos, a local community day care provider near the lot at 375 South 5th St are working on creating a new space called Hooper Street Park Garden. They have a new Facebook page and a site where you can sign up to be a member! Also, the group is looking to be connected with a volunteer horticulturalist or landscape designer. If you know of one, you can emailhooperstreetpark@gmail.com.

Red Hook, Brooklyn - Dierell, who pioneered the organizing at 743 Blake (which is still happening!) has had to make a sudden move to a new neighborhood: Red Hook. Couldthis lot on Columbia Street be the site of a new garden? What about this space Coles Street attached to the back of a school? If you live in Red Hook and are interested in starting a garden space, email mary@596acres.org to get connected to Dierell.

NYC COLLABORATORS
This section of our newsletter highlights some offerings and events from our core collaborators.

Are you a Bushwick resident who thinks that community interests are more important than capital interests? Are you part of a group seeking to better understand your role in the struggle for a just community? Learn how to have a 1-on-1 meeting with a stranger and meet others who are looking to be a part of the fight against capital interest-only developments in Bushwick. Head over the The Silent Barn (630 Bushwick Ave between Jefferson and Melrose) this Saturday, March 1st from 2-6 pm for Community Relationship-Building (1-on-1) Workshop and potluck!

Join Bronx Green-Up and GreenThumb/NYC Parks in learning the basics Starting Seeds Indoors next Wednesday, March 5th from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm and 4-6 pm at Garden of Life and Health (East 157th Street and Melrose Avenue)This is a bilingual English/Spanish workshop! See what other workshops are being offered each month, click here.

Join The New York City Community Garden Coalition on Sunday, March 9th at LaGuardia Place between W3rd and Bleecker for a victory party to celebrate the January 7th, 2014 ruling that is protecting Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Corner Gardens, and LaGuardia Park in Greenwich Village and prevented the NYU Expansion Plan. The celebrating starts at 1 pm! Read more here.

The Citizen's Committee for New York City is partnering with the Lawyers Alliance for New York to offer a new workshop! At "To Be or Not To Be a 501(c)(3)" will explore the questions of the pros and cons of becoming a 501(c)(3) and much more! However, it will not cover how to become a 501(c)(3). Join them Tuesday, March 25, 6pm – 7:30pm in Midtown Manhattan. The workshop is free, but space is limited. To RSVP and learn more, contact Wilfredo Florentino: wflorentino@citizensnyc.org or call 212-822-9568.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Reminder! 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. If you'd like to help us keep this list current and up to date, contact organizers@596acres.org. Thanks in advance and good luck on your applications!

yours,
596 Acres