Environmental justice is an ongoing struggle, and we’re here to support the communities taking it on. We just launched a new round of inventorying unused Parks Department buildings to identify more places for neighbors to create the community resources we need and desire (want to help?). We continue to collaborate via the Legacy Lead Consortium with scientists, city employees, advocates, and greening organizations to assist fellow NYers in reducing the potential harm we face from lead (get a sign with safety suggestions for your space at our store here!). In the last two weeks, we connected and drew inspiration from Taipei’s community land access advocacy organization, and talked about transforming still-present histories of violent land use policies with Eco Practicum School for Environmental Justice in Weeksville, Brooklyn.
We continue to advocate for over 300 nonprofit-owned properties to be removed from the 2017 tax lien sale, with Public Advocate Letitia James joining 17 Council Members making the call! In addition, over 12 million residential square feet of vacant lots alone have debt heading to sale in August. Call the Mayor at 311 and ask to have the City keep this debt as a means to make sure these lots become opportunities for truly affordable and permanently community-controlled housing, instead of going to the highest bidder! Other ways to support this advocacy here.
All over NYC, we are supporting residents organizing for community access to abandoned acres. Sound like work you want to be doing? We’re hiring a Director of Advocacy!
OUR GOLDEN GARDEN GLOVE AFFAIR GALA IS TOMORROW NIGHT
596 Acres’ Gala: A Golden Garden Glove Affair is tomorrow, Thursday, June 1 from 7pm to 10pm at Genius in Gowanus (84 4th Street between Hoyt and Bond in Brooklyn). Get ready for this memorable evening of epic live music, tasty refreshments, awesome raffle prizes, on-site haircuts, and so so much more – all in the company of some of NYC’s most incredible land stewards (like Daniel, pictured above in Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation’s Green Valley Community Farm of Brownsville; photo by Murray Cox)! Get your tickets here to support space for community resilience in NYC.
NEWS FROM THE ORGANIZING ACRES
Cypress Hills, Brooklyn – Tomorrow evening, Thursday, June 1 from 7pm to 8:30pm at the North Brooklyn YMCA (570 Jamaica Avenue at Shepherd Ave on Highland Park) join NYC H2O, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation and many other partners for a meeting to envision the future for Highland Park’s historic Ridgewood Reservoir! More information and RSVP here. Sign up to Organize here: livinglotsnyc.org/lot/59256/
Crown Heights, Brooklyn – Join neighbors presenting their proposal to transform an abandoned Lots for Tots playground on Prospect Place between Kingston and Albany Aves (photo here) into a community garden to Community Board 8’s Parks Committee next Tuesday, June 6 at 6pmat St. John’s Recreation Center (1251 Prospect Place at Schenectady Ave). Plug into the preparations with Janice at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 479-7035. More info and click Organize here for updates: livinglotsnyc.org/lot/59081
Weeksville, Brooklyn – Derek is gathering neighbors to transform a narrow city-owned lot at 154 Mac Dougal Street between Saratoga Ave and Thomas S Boyland Street into community growing space! Another scar of redline maps and the Saratoga Square Urban Renewal Plan of 1992, this long-abandoned public property was not in the city’s database. Contact him to organize together at Djeterwecare@aol.com or (718) 415-3442. Sign up to Organize here for updates: livinglotsnyc.org/lot/3015320024/
Weeksville, Brooklyn – The robust plan of local youth group D.U.E.C.E.S. to transform the former Lots for Tots site at 45 Somers into An E.D.E.N. (Enlightened Developed Empowered Neighborhood) garden was embraced by neighbors, the daycare next door, the community board, Citizens Committee, the Fund for Public Health, and Greenthumb (these last three gave the group grants!), but the city still hasn’t transferred the lot to Parks for GreenThumb stewardship – even though organizers would be making a 1992 top-down, still-active Saratoga Square Urban Renewal plan for open space here real! These are the physical and procedural remains of redlining and #urbanrenewal through which institutionalized racism and municipal neglect blight our neighborhoods. Their advocacy has led GreenThumb to give the group access to an abandoned Parks garden on Pacific Street between Saratoga Ave and Thomas S Boyland, but we continue working towards community access to the key location at 45 Somers. Plug in by contacting Aaron at email@example.com or (347) 589-7583. Learn more and sign up to Organize for updates here: livinglotsnyc.org/lot/3015380043/
North Shore, Staten Island – A neighbor who wants to transform unused Parks Department land at Richmond Terrace and Jersey Street on the shore into a community garden called us last week! The land is already in the Parks Department, so it’s already protected as public green space. To garden here, neighbors will have to put together a campaign convincing the city to include it in the GreenThumb program. Plug in by signing up to Organize here: livinglotsnyc.org/lot/5000040001/
Far Rockaway, Queens – The city is not taking care to separate its plan to sell the long-abandoned city-owned lot on the corner of Nameoke and Augustina to developers who, as per zoning, can build 8 to 10 units of suburban-style housing, from the five other completely different actions moving through ULURP together. As a result, the opposition to this disposition expressed by both the Community Board and Borough President, key players in our public land use decision-making process, could go unregistered. Their hopes for it to become public open space instead could become real in partnership with residents who have a plan for Far Rock Garden. Watch a video of Allison testifying about it at the City Planning Commission (CPC) last week and submit your own written testimony to the CPC online here (pick project C 170245 HGQ from the drop down list, but be sure to include in your testimony that you are against land use application C 170248 PPQ specifically). Plug into organizing for Far Rock Garden with Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org or Travis at email@example.com or (646) 662-0585. Read more advocates’ testimonies and sign up to Organize for updates here: livinglotsnyc.org/lot/4155340070
OUR LOTS WITH ACCESS
Greenpoint, Brooklyn – Join Java Street Community Garden next Saturday, June 10 from 2pm to 6pm for their annual Spring into Summer Party! 59 Java St between Franklin and West. Flier here. Free and open to all! Facebook event page here.
Lower East Side, Manhattan – With help from NYC Parks GreenThumb, Siempre Verde at Stanton and Attorney Streets is getting a new access ramp to achieve better accessibility for people using walkers, strollers, canes, wheelchairs. See photos here.
Learn about Capturing Carbon in Urban Soil: What’s Possible in Cities this Friday, June 2 from 8:30am to 10:30am at 77 Water Street (East River Meeting Room, 4th Floor) in Manhattan’s financial district. Long lauded for its benefits in agriculture, the carbon sequestration potential of soil is now being studied and pioneered in urban settings throughout the world, including New York. Join Urban Green to hear about some of the key soil sequestration concepts used by local practitioners (like community growers!) to increase urban soil carbon while reducing pollution and waste. Event information here.
Do you have questions about creating landmarks and historic districts, working with the Landmarks Commission and Department of Buildings, or common zoning and land use issues? Check out the Historic Districts Council‘s free monthly land use clinics. Next Thursday, June 8 from 5pm to 6pm (and the second Thursday of each month!), it’s at Councilmember Ben Kallos’ office at 244 East 93rd Street at Second Ave in Manhattan; call (212) 860-1950 to reserve your spot. On the following Thursday, June 15 from 3pm to 4pm (and the third Thursday of every month!), it’s at Council Member Vincent J. Gentile’s office at 8018 5th Ave between 80th and 81str Streets in Brooklyn; call (718) 748-5200 to reserve your spot.
Want to learn new skills for stewarding your space? Check out the GreenThumb event calendar.
GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN
Check out our list of micro grants and resources that can help you make your project a reality AFTER you have access to your lot.