People have been asking me: what does it mean, partnerships?
We already inevitably share our city. We create it together at each moment with the lives we are living. We each depend on it for our survival, and we each, through the work we do and the culture and community we naturally create, add to its value.
Yet there are barriers that keep us from shaping the places we live in. This is not superficial: since our city shapes us in turn, it’s about the ability to have control over our own lives, as individuals and as communities. It’s about the ability to connect, to press our dreams against other people’s dreams and watch them become shared realities, living places. It’s about building places for sharing vital resources, like food and songs. It’s about securing access to these resources. It’s about building places for resilience.
Here’s where partnerships come in. An example: right now, regular NYC residents in all five boroughs are organizing, with support from us, community boards and elected representatives, to gain access to vacant public land. Usually, their goal is to transform it into community green spaces like gardens, parks and farms (Paula once called this the “low hanging fruit” for vacant lot transformations) that they will steward in partnership with the City, via NYC Parks Department’s GreenThumb Program. Along with partnering with the City, local community land stewards partner with nonprofit greening and advocacy organizations as well as local enterprises to grow healthy produce, host affordable farmers markets, create employment opportunities, and hold concerts, education, healing events, BBQs, more.
As Director of Partnerships, I want to strengthen the existing relationships that help New Yorkers exercise control over our own lives and secure the things that make us survive and thrive via shaping the places in our neighborhoods, and scale it up. What kind of partnerships will allow New Yorkers to reopen vacant public buildings to serve public good? I have some ideas!
Over time, partnerships become infrastructures. Let’s work together to build structural justice.
Mara Kravitz has been part of the 596 Acres team since January 2016, previously as our executive assistant. She is delighted to grow into this new role! Contact her at (718) 316-6092 Ext. 3 or firstname.lastname@example.org.