Woman among leaves

Our hearts are breaking: 89 community properties use were included in the 2016 tax lien sale. They are churches, mosques, veterans’ organizations and Tot Lots. Nearly all of these bills should have never been sent in the first place: churches, non-profit organizations and other charities are tax exempt. But New York City Department of Finance requires an annual form to verify the exemption and sometimes folks can’t keep up. We are losing valued community resources. To help stop this problem we are partnering with New York City’s Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, Fordham Law Shool the Property Exemptions Unit at the Department of Finance, the Public Advocate, and 596Acres, Inc., to inform not-for-profit organizations throughout the city about their rights: how to apply for and keep property tax exemptions, as well as what to do if they get tax bills or lien notices.

Protecting Our Places! Know Your Rights on Not-for-Profit Tax Exemptions
on Thursday, November 10, 6pm to 8:30pm at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus at 155 W 60th Street in Manhattan, Room 109B. Full event information here. Facebook event page here. Spread the word! There will be an opportunity to connect with Department of Finance staff beginning at 6pm. 

The tax lien sale is up for reauthorization this year in City Council. Call your elected officials and tell them that you want properties owned by religious, charitable and educational organizations exempt from having unpaid debt sold to investors. Our recommendations for protecting community property from the threat of the tax lien sale are here.

Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan – Today, Thursday October 27 at 6:15pm, organizers are meeting to discuss the status of the big vacant public lot on 10th Ave between West 48th and 49th streets, next steps and design of the future public space (what kind of park will it be?). Join them at 350 West 43rd Street between 8th and 9th streets. Folks have been organizing all over the city for many years to hold DEP accountable for the promised parks on water tunnel access sites like this one. Contact Renee at or  (646)465-4655 to get involved, and sign up to Organize here:

Long Island City, Queens – Tomorrow, Friday October 28 at 10am, join the Cutoff Coalition at Smiling Hogshead Ranch at 25-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place for a walk-through ofthe area that will be made available in 2017 for Ranch on Rails. Sign up to Organize here: We need all hands on this one – it’s enormous!

Far Rockaway, Queens – Tomorrow, Friday October 28 at 4pm, we are meeting with organizers and a representative of the NYC Economic Development Corporation in Manhattan to discuss keeping a big vacant lot on the corner of Nameoke and Augustina public and for community use so it can be the incredible community farm that neighbors imagine. Are you a neighbor who wants to join the meeting? RSVP to or (718) 316-6092 ext 3. Plug in to planning the space by contacting Allison –, (718) 749-8830 or Travis –, (646) 662-0585. Sign up to Organize here:

Weeksville, Brooklyn – Join on Wednesday, November 9, 6pm to 8pm at the Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at 8 Thomas S Boyland Street at Macon to plan for the future ofthe vacant lot at 45 Somers! The group, which includes longtime community gardeners and the youth nonprofit D.U.E.C.E.S. is creating a community open space where neighborhood kids can play. Save the date for November 15 at 7pm where organizers will present their plan to Community Board 16’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, 444 Thomas S. Boyland Street – Room 103. Come show support for these organizers! Contact Cyeann –, (917) 202-1977 or C. Aaron –, (347) 589-7583 to plug in; sign up to Organize:

East New York, Brooklyn – Sakinah from East New York wants to make the abandoned public land under the tracks at Livonia and New Lots Ave grow. She says, “I would love to help out with creating a garden in that space. I’m a member of many farms and one of the community educators. I live in the area so access to the site is no problem. Please give me a call or email me at 347-368-8281 or” Contact her to make it happen together! See lot history and sign up to Organize here for updates:

East New York, Brooklyn – B.R.O.K.E Youth (Be Responsible, Keep Excelling) is working to make East NY better for our youth and families. The community garden they are planning for the vacant lots on Hinsdale Street between Sutter and Blake will be for everyone to enjoy! Last week they created a rough draft drawing of the garden layout that brought in input from the youth. Last week, they met again with staff from Council Member Inez Barron’s office about their plan. Join them: email Auradis at or call her at (516) 582-1460. Read notes and sign up to Organize here:

Bed Stuy, Brooklyn – A former play lot at Marcus Garvey and Lexington has fallen into disrepair since 2012! Despite having play equipment, it is not being used now. This land is our land, NYC. Let’s get it transferred to NYC Parks and reopened via resident stewardship through GreenThumb. It can serve the nearby public and the children next door once again! Sign up to Organize here:

Melrose, Bronx – On Monday, November 14 at 11am, meet at the sloping vacant lot on E 159th St between St Ann’s & Eagle Ave in the South Bronx for a walk through of the hilly street with our architecture team and staff from supporting organizations! Gardeners and designers will guide us through the incredible plan that neighbors dreamed up together. Check it out and sign up to Organize here for updates: – or contact Victor to plug in to the campaign, or to add your own letter of support, at or (718) 665-4281.

Staten Island – Rita reached out to us about an abandoned public lot at 187 Wiman Ave between Sweetwater and Tennyson on the South Shore that she is eager to turn into a community garden. It has so much potential! She is collecting signatures from neighbors using this petitionand seeing who else wants to be part of planning and running the space. Contact her to be partners in planning for the future glory of this lot:, (718) 866-8126. And sign up to organize here:

Flatbush, Brooklyn – This Saturday, October 29, 1pm to 4pm, time for Soupin’ It Up at Q Gardens Community Farm! There will be live music and items for swap: bring and take unopened food items, books, jackets, coats, sweaters, etc. Corner of Church Ave and 18th Street, behind B/Q Church Ave subway station. More information here.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn – This Saturday, October 29, 1pm to 5pm, you are invited to A Spooky Afternoon, hosted by Java Street Garden (Java Street between Franklin and West). There will be sweet treats, music, a costume contest with prizes, and photo booth! More information here.

Prospect-Lefferts, Brooklyn – Here Comes Solar and Brooklyn SolarWorks help guide residents through the process of installing solar panels. They are having an information event at Maple Street Garden, 237 Maple Street near Rogers Avenue, next Saturday, November 5, 1pm to 2:30pm.  There will be food and solar displays/gadgets to check out and you can find out about the kind of discounts available when you join a group of homeowners going solar as well as the Federal, State and City rebates which are currently available.

Rockaway, Queens – This Saturday, October 29, 9am to 1pm, join Edgemere Farm at Beach 45th Street Community Farm, just south of Beach Channel Drive, at the farmstand finale for a community harvest festival! Fun for all ages! Everyone welcome. With bobbing for apples, herbal consults, pumpkin decorating, DJ, 11:30am magic show, 12pm pet costume contest. Bring a potluck dish to share. More information here.

Long Island City, Queens – Smiling Hogshead Ranch at 25-30 Skillman Avenue at Pearson Place at will soon install infrastructure to create a #ToolLendingLibrary. Who wants to help? Plug in: Get in touch through facebook here, email or call (407) 432-8156. This Saturday, October 29, 10am to 12pm, join Kidical Mass NYC and Make Queens Safer for their third annual Zombie Ride, which will stop at Smiling Hogshead Ranch for snacks and a look at their amazing community space for growing plants and ideas. Meet at 10am at Gantry Plaza State Park, on the East River off of Center Blvd and 47th Rd.  Kids should be capable bike riders age 7 or older. Zombie dress up encouraged. More information here. Here are some gorgeous photos of the Ranch, including our cover photo, by Murray Cox, documentary photographer.

West Harlem, Manhattan – The growing season may be coming to an end, but the Halloween season is just beginning! Come out to Luigi’s Garden at 227 West 115th Street between 8th Ave and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd on Monday, October 31 at 6pm for Halloween events, including a COSTUME CONTEST. Connect on facebook here.

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) is seeking a Health Justice Community Organizer! NYLPI is a nonprofit civil rights law firm. Its Health Justice program brings a racial justice and immigrant rights focus to health care advocacy in New York. Full job posting here. Applications are due on Tuesday, November 8.

Citizens Committee for New York City’s Love Your Block Grant Applications are due on Monday, November 7 – just over a week away! Get $1,000 for block beautification projects. More information here.

Citizens Committee Neighborhood Grants provide up to $3,000 for projects across NYC – everything from gardens to art projects to organizing. Applications due January 23, 2017. More information here.

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.

People at visioning session for Hooper Street Park in Williamsburg's Southside

The beautiful people of the so-soon-to-be-real Hooper Street Park in Williamsburg’s Southside! Last week, 596 Acres, El Puente Green Light District, and Nuestros Niños Child Development School co-sponsored a public visioning session, where NYC Parks’ GreenThumb led gardeners in sketching park designs. Twenty-four years after the City planned open space for this site, the lot was finally transferred to NYC Parks Department last Spring as a result of powerful community advocacy supported by 596 Acres! We are so excited to see it finally happening!
Make it your garden too! Email Robert at or contact El Puente Green Light District at or (347) 532-2809 (se habla español). Sign up to Organize here for updates:

We can see the vines crawling up the trellises already…

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