NYCommons logo

This is an invitation from NYCommons to collaborate on workshops to help New Yorkers learn to protect and expand publicly owned and controlled land and buildings in our neighborhoods. NYCommons is a collaboration between Common Cause/NY, the Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center, and 596 Acres, Inc. The next phase of our work includes focusing on 2-3 neighborhoods to pilot workshops where we spotlight means to participate effectively in current land use processes, as well as challenges shared by many community groups working around local land use struggles.


Prudence Katze, Common Cause, Inc.,, (212) 691-6421

Background. We have already spent a year conducting research through meetings with over 100 organizations and community activists across NYC. Through our initial phase of outreach and research, we identified five types of public assets that present important opportunities for public participation and community input in many communities:

  1. Vacant public land and community gardens on land owned by City agencies and State Authorities;

  2. Post offices;

  3. Libraries;

  4. New York City Housing Authority campuses and other property; and

  5. Publicly-owned waterfront property.

We now invite collaborators from NYC neighborhoods to join us as co-hosts of workshops focused on helping to foster an understanding of what neighbors can do to ensure that public assets continue to be a resource for their communities. If you have some or all of these property types in your community, NYCommons would like to collaborate with you to help local residents learn how decisions about these properties are made and how residents can participate in the process.

Formal organizations and groups of individuals are invited to apply. We encourage you to partner with other organizers in your neighborhood as hosts of these workshops. Through our individual organizations and our collaborative work so far as NYCommons, we have developed a deep network of New Yorkers focusing their advocacy on public real estate assets, land use, housing rights, community participation, and neighborhood-based advocacy. You can see a list of them here; let us know if you would like to be connected to anyone listed as a potential co-collaborator.


Compensation. NYCommons will provide food and facilitation for workshops, as well as funding for workshop outreach. In addition, collaborators will receive a minimum unrestricted stipend of $500 (final amount dependent on number of collaborators per neighborhood), which can be used to compensate individual participants or to compensate an organization as a whole.

Timeline. Collaborators must commit to a planning meeting with the NYCommons team, to be held between April 1 and April 15, 2016, and to co-hosting two public workshops in June and July.

Collaborator Applications. We encourage collaborations between groups and individuals who are doing diverse work in the same area. Application questions are listed below, in Appendix A. Collaborator applications are due Friday, February 19, 2016 at 5:59pm [DEADLINE EXTENDED]. Please email your proposal to Prudence Katze at Selections will be made by March 5, 2016.



Main contact.

Organizational affiliation, if any.
Website, if any.
Twitter, if any.
How did you find out about this collaboration opportunity?

Your team.

List the members of your team. Include organizations and individuals. For each, include:

Organizational affiliation, if any.
Website, if any.
Twitter, if any.

Through our individual organizations and our collaborative work so far as NYCommons, we have developed a deep network of New Yorkers focusing their advocacy on public real estate assets, land use, housing rights, community participation, and neighborhood-based advocacy. You can see a list of them here; let us know if you would like to be connected to anyone listed as a potential co-collaborator.

Your neighborhood.

  1. Draw or describe the boundaries of the neighborhood you work in. Your neighborhood can be as small as one block or as large as one borough, but keep in mind that we want to make sure that the team we assemble is well-positioned to reach deeply into the area of focus.  

  2. Which of the following does your neighborhood have:

    1. Vacant public land

    2. Community gardens on land owned by City agencies and State Authorities

    3. Post offices that might close

    4. Libraries

    5. New York City Housing Authority campuses and other property

    6. Publicly-owned waterfront property

Your resources.

  1. List spaces in your neighborhood that you can access for hosting a public workshop.

  2. List public officials that your team has a relationship with, including NYC City Council Members and Community Boards. Describe the nature of the relationships and, if applicable, how you have worked on any land use challenges together.

Your reason.
In under 500 words (one page, single spaced), describe why you want to invite the NYCommons team to collaborate with you in a workshop series focused on how the community can impact the outcome and decisions around public assets in their neighborhood, and the development of training modules and materials to build local organizing around public asset disposition. How will this series contribute to your overall goals? What do you hope you and your team will learn? What do you hope you and your team will be able to teach?


A collaboration between 596 Acres,  the Urban Justice Center and Common Cause New York, NYCommons seeks to provide local stakeholders with the tools they need to impact decisions around the future of their parks, libraries, community gardens, and other publicly held spaces. By creating accessible information about who controls these public assets, how decisions about these assets are made, and how members of the public can influence these choices, NYCommons will help communities raise their voices to ensure that local people will continue to enjoy the benefits of shared space for generations to come.

Why This Project?

Vibrant public spaces strengthen communities and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods. They provide opportunities for learning, health and recreation, as well as connecting with friends and neighbors.   But all too often, publicly owned spaces are sold or taken out of public control with very little meaningful public input. Publicly owned buildings and parking lots may also have unused air rights that create opportunities for development that people may not realize exist until it’s too late for the community to have a voice in how those development rights are used. Our project seeks to break this pattern and give local people a chance to have a say in the decisions that affect their communities. NYCommons will help reframe the public dialogue so the long term, inherent benefits of public spaces being maintained for the public interest are not overlooked in the decision-making process.


NYC groups working on the commons (who might want to collaborate with you)




Alliance for a Greater New York

Asian Americans for Equality

Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development

ATLAS: DIY (Developing Immigrant Youth)

Chinese Staff and Worker’s Association

Citizen Action of NY

Citizens Committee for NYC

Citizens Defending Libraries

City Club of NY

City Parks Foundation

Coalition of Block & Community Leaders

Community Voices Heard

DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association

DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving

Green City Force

Green Guerillas


Grow NYC

Historic Districts Council

Make the Road New York

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance

Minkwon Center for Community Action

Neighborhood Plaza Partnership

New York City Community Garden Coalition

New York City Community Land Initiative

New York City Park Advocates

New York Restoration Project

New Yorkers for Parks

NYC Environmental Justice Alliance

NYC Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative

Partnerships for Parks

Picture the Homeless

Public Space Party

Right to the City-NYC


Solidarity NYC

Streetwise & Safe

Trees New York

Urban Homestead Assistance Board (UHAB)


International Federation of Settlements

Trust for Public Land







African Communities Together

Banana Kelly

Hunts Point / Longwood

Bissell Garden


Bronx Green Up (NYBG)

Bronx Land Trust

CASA/New Settlement

Friends of Brook Park

South Bronx

Friends of Mosholu Parkland

Norwood / Mosholu / Bedford / Jerome

Friends of Van Cortland Park

Friends of Williamsbridge Oval


Hill Street Garden


Knox Gates Neighborhood Association (The COVE)


La Familia Verde

Crotona / East Tremont / West Farms

Mothers on the Move

South Bronx

Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition

Sapna NYC

Westchester Square / Parkchester


South Bronx

South Bronx Community Congress

South Bronx

Sustainable South Bronx

South Bronx


Hunts Point

Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice

South Bronx






Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration

Bedford Stuyvesant

Benson Avenue Block Association

Bath Beach / Bensonhurst

BK Rot


Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy


Brooklyn Solid Waste Advisory Board & North Brooklyn Compost

Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Assoc

Caroll Gardens

CEC 15 Brooklyn

Celestial Church Buffalo Center


Center for Family Life

Sunset Park

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation

Cypress Hills

Dean St – Grant Sq.Block Assoc Crown Heights

Crown Heights

Eden Learning Garden


El Puente


Eldert Street Garden


Fifth Avenue Committee

South Brooklyn

Flatbush Tenant Coalition


Friends of Carroll Park

Caroll Gardens

Friends of Sunset Park

Sunset Park


Carroll Gardens / Gowanus

Hooper Street Park


Imani Garden

Crown Heights

Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation


La Casita Verde: 451 Bedford Ave


Maple Street Community Garden

Prospect Lefferts

Neighbors Together

Ocean Hill / Brownsville / Bedford-Stuyvesant

NHS of East Flatbush

East Flatbush / Flatbush

Open Space Alliance

Williamsburg / Greenpoint

P.S.335 Granville T. Woods Community Garden


Parents of Wonderful Children

Crown Heights

Patchen Community Square Garden


People for Green Space

Columbia Heights / DUMBO

Phoenix Community Garden


Pratt Area Community Council

Ft Greene / Clinton Hill

Prospect Park Alliance

Prospect Park

Roger That! Garden

Crown Heights

Silent Barn


Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp

Sunset Park / Red Hook / Gowanus

St. Nicks Alliance

Williamsburg / Greenpoint


Sunset Park

Workers Justice Project

Brooklyn Queens Land Trust

Catholic Migration

University Settlement






After Dark CAT

West Village

Brotherhood/Sister Sol

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities

Carrie McCracken Truth Community Garden St Nicholas


Central Park Conservancy



Chelsea Reform Democratic Club


Commission on the Public Health System

Cooper Square

East Village

East Harlem Preservation


Family2Family Healthy Eating Community Gardening Project


Fred Samuel Resident’s Association


Friends of Morningside Park


Goddard Riverside Community Center



Lower East Side

Greenwich Village Historic Preservation Society

West Village / Greenwich Village / East Village / NoHo

Hamilton Heights-West Harlem Community Preservation Organization

Hamilton Heights / West Harlem

Hester Street Collaborative

Lower East Side

LES Ready

Lower East Side

Marcus Garvey Park Alliance


Mirabal Sisters Cultural & Community Center

Hamilton Heights

National Mobilization Against Sweatshops

Lower East Side / Chinatown

Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coaliton

Lower East Side

Siempre Verde Garden

Lower East Side

South Harlem CERT


Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance

South Bronx

Union Square Community Coalition

Union Square

Village Independent Democrats

West Village

We Act for Environmental Justice


University Settlement





Chhaya CDC

Community of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together

Maspeth / Elmhurst / Woodside

Edgemere Coalition Community Garden


Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy

Flushing / Corona

Flushing Workers Center


Frank Ave Civic Association Garden


Free Synogogue of Flushing


Green Earth Urban Gardens Inc.


Grenada Daycare Garden


Jackson Heights Beautification Group

Jackson Heights

Jackson Heights Green Alliance

Jackson Heights

Kissena Park Civic Association

Kissena Park

Malba Gardens Civic Association


Queens Civic Congress

Queens Coalition for Parks and Open Spaces

Queens Community House

Queens Neighborhood United

Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association


Rocky Hill Civic Association

Rosedale Civic Association


Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Flushing Meadows Park

Smiling Hogshead Ranch

Long Island City

Woodside on the Move


Queensboro Hill Flushing Civil Association

Queensboro Hill / Flushing

Brooklyn Queens Land Trust

Catholic Migration

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