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News for March 2012

News From The Acres Vol 2 Issue 9

30 March 2012

NEWS FROM THE ACRES

News, resources and invitations for participation from the decentralized projects on the 596 Acres; this section is built from your submissions. Submit every week by Wedneday 8pm for Friday's mailing. Send your submission to 596acres@gmail.com.
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Java Street Garden Collaborative First Clean Up Day!

Saturday, March 31, noon-4 
59 Java Street between West & Franklin, in Greenpoint

Feedback Farms - A Small Green Patch Volunteer Work Days Continue every Saturday & Tuesday, 
Bergen Street between 4th Avenue and 3rd AvenueBrooklyn Permaculture Discussion/Share Group
And check out their awesome new webpage -- these three lots are housing three wonderful projects!

ALL ABOUT SEEDS,  Saturday, March 31, 5:30 pm
599 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
The folks at BKPermaculture are pleased to invite you to join us for our second discuss/share group! Thanks to everyone who came out for last month's "Understanding Soil."  This month's topic is  "All About Seeds!"  We'll be discussing seed starting and hardening off for this year's garden, all while collectively making seed balls.  Let's take advantage of early spring and learn how to give our gardens a head start together! Bring seeds for the seed balls or swapping with your neighbors and food/drink if you'd like.General background reading found here:  http://ge.tt/9LYCbnC
RSVP and/or questions to megan(at)bkpermaculture.org

HERB AND WEED STUDY CIRCLE at Garden of Union
Sunday, April 1, noon - 3pm
4th Ave on Union St., Park Slope

Have you ever wondered what is a weed and what is a useful plant? Know how to make a tincture or salve from herbs and want to share your knowledge? Curious about herbs that are useful for teas and medicine? Enjoy the beauty of the Garden of Union and talk with others who have an interest in herbs and weeds. In Park Slope, Brooklyn.  

Putnam & Patchen is putting it's GreenThumb application together. Get in touch with Alison (alison.iven@gmail.com) to be involved. 

Save the date for 462 Halsey Community Gardens's grand opening and Earth Day celebration on April 22. 


GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

We had some great press this week. Check us out in Grist and the Epoch Timesand share these articles with your friends to tell them about how rad 596 Acres is! These stories focused on 462 Halsey Community Gardens -- more stories to come!

Save these dates...
On April 8
, from 3-8pm, we will be wheatpasting the next set of signs to put up on mystery lots all over Brooklyn at the Interference Archive at 131 8th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Gowanus, Brooklyn. We will need help! 
On April 15, starting at 10am, we will be sending out teams to put these signs up. You can be one of these teams! More details to come.
*** Got a lot that needs a sign? Let us know!

Chances to see...
 596 Acres will be at the following events:
Satuday, March 31, 10am-4pm at the GreenThumb Grow Together Conference, Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse BRONX


GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN

This newsletter will highlight grant opportunities that may apply to your group's project. See a money opportunity you wanna share? Email it to Eva Meszaros eva.c.meszaros@gmail.com. 

Don't forget about The New York Community Trust (rolling deadline)JM Kaplan Fund: City Life Program (rolling deadline);  http://awesomefoundation.org/blog/about/ (rolling deadline) and GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening Program's Annual Spring Plant Sale.


***Note that many grants require 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor. If your group or organization doesn't have 501(c)(3) status, Ioby is a great local option for fiscal sponsorship: if you have a project on IOBY.org, you get free fiscal sponsorship with it!


love,
596 Acres

On the Epoch Times - Changing Brooklyn One Acre at a Time

27 March 2012

 

Changing Brooklyn One Acre at a Time

By Kristen Meriwether
Epoch Times Staff

March 27, 2012

 

NEW YORK—Shatia Jackson’s family has lived in a brownstone on Halsey Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn since her great-grandmother Nellie “Fran” Norris moved in during the late 1950s. Every generation of her family since then has been born and raised there.

Since the late 1970s, one of Jackson’s not-so-fond memories includes passing the vacant lot sitting at 462 Halsey Street.

“We have all grown up with that lot being vacant and not thinking that anything can be done or transformed,” she said on Monday.

In August 2011 Jackson strolled past the vacant lot, but this time she noticed a sign posted on the fence with a map and a note asking residents to call if they want to see the lot become something for their community.

“I had walked past a few times and saw the map, but one day I decided to take a picture of it and call the number,” she said.

The number got her in touch with Paula Segal, the lead facilitator of 596 Acres, a public education project created last year. The project raises awareness of the land resources surrounding residents of Brooklyn and helps unite neighbors eager to make changes in their community.

Neighborhood volunteers lay out pallets to build community gardens at 462 Halsey on Jan. 7. (Photo Courtesy Kristen Bonardi Rapp)

“We try to get people through the process of ‘Wow, there is a vacant lot here and I can do something. How do I start?’” Segal said.

Segal, who had grown tired of a vacant lot near her home in Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn, decided to take action. She used information from MapPLUTO, a New York City Department of City Planning tool, but refined it to suit the needs of the community, not the developers it was made to serve.

In June 2011, Segal went into the community she wished to impact and hung the maps with contact information for 596 Acres at 25 lots in Brooklyn, using her website and social media to get her message out. The hybrid of grassroots and high-tech allows her to reach “the people who access their world by walking around the block and the people who access their world by checking Facebook,” she said.

Sean Rosado, son of Shatia Jackson, works to clean up the lot at 462 Halsey in Brooklyn. He will be the first generation in his family not to pass by an empty lot in 30 years. (Photo Courtesy Kristen Bonardi Rapp)

 

Strangers Unite For Change

Last September, Segal facilitated a meeting between Jackson and Kristen Bonardi Rapp, a fellow Bed-Stuy resident who had also inquired about 462 Halsey Street. The pair agreed to partner, aspiring to turn the empty lot into a community garden.

The land was owned by New York City’s Housing Preservation and Development, but Jackson and Rapp went through Green Thumb, a city agency that acts as liaison between government and community garden organizers.

With the help of IOBY, a fundraising organization that connects people and money to site-based projects, Jackson and Rapp raised nearly $1,600. In addition, they received a $1,000 Love Your Block grant from the city.

Last December, the duo began clean up on the lot with other neighborhood volunteers. With help from the unusually warm winter, Jackson was able to work through the winter. The Community Gardens at 462 Halsey will open its gates Sunday, April 1.

Co-founders and co-presidents of 462 Halsey Street Community Gardens Shatia Jackson and Kristen Bonardi Rapp. (Photo Courtesy Kristen Bonardi Rapp)

Jackson said the once vacant lot is now largely made of community garden beds for her fellow neighbors.

“If you live in the neighborhood, you can come by and pick produce for yourself and it’s free of charge,” she said.

“Bed-Stuy has a large population of low income families and the idea is to try and help supplement the produce that they cannot afford from grocery stores in order to promote healthier eating habits,” she added.

Jackson said for paying members, there is space for private gardening beds as well.

Seeds of Change

 The community garden at 462 Halsey Street is not the only success story from 596 Acres community outreach. Three organizations, Feedback Farms, Small Green Patch, and the Textile Arts Center are utilizing three spaces at 348 Bergen Street. Java Street Garden has begun work on a project at 59 Java Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Brooklynites can watch their neighborhoods transform from empty lots to community hot spots by viewing the map at 596acres.org.

 


Jackson’s son Sean Rosado, who helped transform 462 Halsey Street, will be the last generation in almost 30 years to grow up with the unsightly vacant lot on Halsey Street. He will also be the first generation in that time whose memories will include a garden there with fresh vegetables grown just a few blocks from his home.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/united-states/changing-brooklyn-one-acre-at-a-time-211694.html

 

 

So Much Progress - So Little Acrage

27 March 2012

0.329 acres have been activated by community groups who found out that vacant land in their neighborhoods was actually public land. That tiny amount is all of the Java Street Garden Collaborative, Feedback Farms/A Small Green Patch and 462 Halsey. We have a long long way to go.

On Grist - No vacancy: Unleashing the potential of empty urban land

27 March 2012

BY SARAH GOODYEAR

27 MAR 2012 7:05 AM

Tia Jackson’s family has lived on the same block of Halsey Street in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood for five generations. Kristen Rapp is a newcomer. Jackson is black. Rapp is white. In a part of town where the gentrification process has been grinding along painfully for years, the two might never have met if not for a sign on a fence on a vacant lot, left there by the members of a group called 596 Acres.

Now Jackson and Rapp have keys that let them into that vacant lot at 462 Halsey. They are shoveling dirt and planting seeds. Together with a dedicated group of neighborhood residents, they are turning an abandoned scrap of urban soil into a garden.

The sign that brought them together was part of a project to identify and map all city-owned vacant lots in Brooklyn, which add up to a mind-blowing — you guessed it — 596 acres in total area. To give you some perspective, Prospect Park, the borough’s largest, is 585 acres. In a city where real estate is an obsession (or a cult?) the idea of so much land sitting vacant is kind of astonishing.

Less than a year old, 596 Acres is the work of a small core of volunteers, including Paula Z. Segal, a lawyer and lead facilitator for the group. Segal first got interested in the city-owned vacant lots because of a site known as Myrtle Village Green, near where she lived at the time. Owned by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, the lot was needed for a time to provide access to a major water tunnel project. The community was supposed to get it back, with landscaping and other improvements, once the access was no longer necessary. Years later, people are still waiting.

Researching that site, Segal learned how much data was available on vacant city land that had not yet been locked down by developers — and she got excited about the potential uses for that space. She presented some of her findings at the Festival of Ideas for the New City last year, and that’s where she met Eric Breisford, a programmer who, like her, is involved in a variety of other projects having to do with access to public space, public data, and decent food. The duo quickly got to work on making the data more accessible in both digital and paper formats.

Together they worked to get a map printed that showed the data they had gathered, and an online version as well. They researched a few lots in greater detail, then wheatpasted the printed maps to foam core boards along with explanations of  “what’s going on here,” and posted those at a few lots around Brooklyn. “We did that knowing there was all this mystery around these vacant lots and not knowing what would happen,” Segal says.

One of the lots they flagged was 462 Halsey. And that’s when Rapp and Jackson found each other and, with the help of 596 Acres, started the process that got the lot open after 20 years or more of blight. “I never knew what was going on with that lot,” Jackson says. Now, she’s planting seeds there with her son and her little sister.

Two other lots identified through 596 Acres are also starting new lives as garden space this growing season — the Java Street Garden and A Small Green Patch.

“What drives my involvement in most of the projects I work on is the idea that control over the food you eat is a fundamental right,” says Breisford. He cites research showing that 1.7 acres of urban acreage is capable of producing 90,000 pounds of food worth about a quarter of a million dollars.

Think what 596 acres could produce.

But Segal and Breisford say that the purpose of 596 Acres is not to tell people what they should do with the vacant lots. Food is part of what grows in places like these, but it is by no means the only thing.

“It’s as much community as it is garden,” Rapp says.

“We want to see people being able to regain control over what’s going on in their neighborhoods,” says Segal.

To that end, 596 Acres helps people to navigate bureaucracy, governance structures, and neighborhood dynamics. The group has printed a broadsheet with a flowchart that outlines the complicated processes involved without making it all seems hopelessly intimidating.

They are also continuing to connect people like Jackson and Rapp, in Bed-Stuy, with others who want to unlock the chain-link mysteries of their own neighborhoods, clear the rubble, and get to work making things better.

596 Acres is looking to expand into New York’s other four boroughs. They’re fielding inquiries from places like Detroit, Philadelphia, Vancouver, and even Rio de Janeiro about how to start similar data projects there. They’re looking for funding, and Segal sees a lot of possibilities ahead.

“It’s a way of bringing power to communities that don’t have power,” she says.

http://grist.org/cities/lots-worlds-unleashing-the-potential-of-vacant-urban-land/

 

More Better Data!

22 March 2012
tags: tool updates

 

Have you been confused by lots on our map in your neighborhood that you can't find in real life? There are lots in the middle of blocks that are very difficult to get to and are impossible to see from the street. These types of lots are called "gutterspace;" you can read more about them on our About page.

Using part of the funding we received through FEAST, we hired an OASIS expert who had experience with another NYC vacant property project, Picture the Homeless's Banking on Vacancy. She spent about 20 hours clicking through each vacant lot in our database and looking it up in OASIS -- we now have much more accurate information for you to use.

The first result of this update is that we have removed gutterspace from the map to make it less confusing (you can still turn that layer on using the map legend if you're curious). There will be more exciting updates from that process that we will unveil soon.

Unrelated to the data cleanup above, we have recently added a category of lots - those that groups have gained access to while working with 596 Acres! (Interestingly, they form a very nice triangle over much of the northern part of Brooklyn, too.) If you're looking for a project to get involved with and one of these is near you, get in touch with them through the lot's page.

 

596 Acres Testifies Before City Council Parks Budget Hearing In Support of NYC Funding GreenThumb

22 March 2012

GreenThumb gets no funding from New York City. Here's what we have to say about that:

"My name is Paula Segal. I am here representing a community-based project called 596 Acres. I am here today to testify for city council funding for community driven parks projects and, specifically city funding for the GreenThumb program. 

596 Acres connects communities with land resources around them to enable the formation of community-controlled public spaces where New Yorkers can work together and play together in their own neighborhoods. Our project is a data project -- we use maps and hand-made signs to identify unused public land in Brooklyn. Our pilot project, which started by labeling a dozen unused Housing Preservation and Development sites last summer and supporting community members who saw those signs in navigating the existing processes for getting access. Three of those sites are now GreenThumb gardens -- the Java Street Garden Collaborative in Greenpoint, Feedback Farms in Gowanus and 462 Halsey Community Gardens in Bedford Stuyvesant. 

GreenThumb provides materials and gardening support for gardens on public land. They provided an already-established process for these three community groups to actually open their fences and put public land to use that the people who live right near those lands could control and use for recreation and food production. Without the help and support of GreenThumb, these groups would be going it alone and would likely still be weedy, vacant lots behind fences. 

One of the things that I find myself doing a lot as a community advocate through 596 Acres is telling community members not to give up -- GreenThumb is swamped. Sometimes materials take a long time to arrive. Sometimes emails take a long time to get answered. City funding for this crucial program that is serving the needs of New Yorkers who want to work together to create community controlled spaces would increase the capacity of the program, and have the effect of increasing the capacity of all New Yorkers to affect the use of our common lands in our own communities. 

596 Acres is here today to ask the City Council to use the Parks budget process as an opportunity to add city funding to GreenThumb. Even a small amount of funding added directly from the City budget would immediately increase green space capacity in our neighborhoods, especially those where parks are scarce." 

News From The Acres Vol 2 Issue 8

22 March 2012

NEWS FROM THE ACRES

News, resources and invitations for participation from the decentralized projects on the 596 Acres; this section is built from your submissions. Submit every week by Wedneday 8pm for Friday's mailing. Send your submission to 596acres@gmail.com.
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Feedback Farms - A Small Green Patch First Volunteer Work Day, Saturday, March 24th, 9am - 1pm 
Bergen Street between 4th Avenue and 3rd Avenue
We need your hands, shovels, rakes to help level out the lots with the dirt that was delivered on Tuesday, March 20! We suggest you bring/wear boots, clothes you don't mind getting dirty, work gloves, a hat, sunscreen, water and a snack or two to keep your energy up! Do you have a car? We need help delivering materials from the Shop to the Lot's! Call 917.676.7819 for more details on delivery needs. Rain Date - March 31. Volunteer days continue Saturdays through Spring. 

Myrtle Village Green Invites You To A Conversation, Sunday, March 25, 11am

Fort Green Park
"It's been a frustrating couple of weeks. Our pansies and our banners seem to have fallen victim to a city-wide pre-election clean-up campaign. We haven't heard back from DEP with anything definitive about our interim plans; a community planning process for long term use has been promised since last summer, yet no date has been set. It seems like we need a community accessment of what we can do next. Let's meet on Sunday, March 25 at 11am at Fort Green Park. There will be an Occupy Town Square event there at the same time, allowing us to share our story with our neighbors. Don't forget an umbrella. Look for the MYRTLE VILLAGE GREEN banner near the top of the hill." 

Brooklyn Permaculture Discussion/Share Group
ALL ABOUT SEEDS,  Saturday, March 31, 5:30 pm
599 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
The folks at BKPermaculture are pleased to invite you to join us for our second discuss/share group! Thanks to everyone who came out for last month's "Understanding Soil."  This month's topic is  "All About Seeds!"  We'll be discussing seed starting and hardening off for this year's garden, all while collectively making seed balls.  Let's take advantage of early spring and learn how to give our gardens a head start together! Bring seeds for the seed balls or swapping with your neighbors and food/drink if you'd like.General background reading found here:  http://ge.tt/9LYCbnC
RSVP and/or questions to megan(at)bkpermaculture.org

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

The Next 596 Acres General Meeting is THIS SATURDAY MARCH 24 AT 4PM at 462 Halsey Community Gardens. We'll distribute the next edition of the 596 Acres broadsheet, complete with an illustrated guide to taking over the lot in your life; Claudia Joseph of New York Permaculture Exchange will join us to talk about possible governance structures for our projects and how they impact the actual work of creating green space. Check out our awesome graphic that shows the possible steps between finding the lot in your life and getting access for a community project here. You can also read our testimony from this week's NYC Council hearing on the Parks Department budget, which we support NYC funding for GreenThumb, a program that right now gets by with only the tiniest bit of federal money and nothing from NYC at all. 

596 Acres Data Improvements


Have you been confused by lots on our map in your neighborhood that you can't find in real life? There are lots in the middle of blocks that are very difficult to get to and are impossible to see from the street. These types of lots are called "gutterspace;" you can read more about them on our About page.

Using part of the funding we received through FEAST, we hired an OASIS expert who had experience with another NYC vacant property project, Picture the Homeless's Banking on Vacancy. She spent about 20 hours clicking through each vacant lot in our database and looking it up in OASIS -- we now have much more accurate information for you to use.

The first result of this update is that we have removed gutterspace from the map to make it less confusing (you can still turn that layer on using the map legend if you're curious). There will be more exciting updates from that process that we will unveil soon.

Unrelated to the data cleanup above, we have recently added a category of lots - those that groups have gained access to while working with 596 Acres! (Interestingly, they form a very nice triangle over much of the northern part of Brooklyn, too.) If you're looking for a project to get involved with and one of these is near you, get in touch with them through the lot's page.


Chances to see... 596 Acres will be at the following events:
Sunday, March 25, 2-5pm at Sustainable Flatbush's Greening Flatbush 2012: Garden Where You Are!890 Flatbush Avenue BKLYN
Satuday, March 31, 10am-4pm at the GreenThumb Grow Together Conference, Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse BRONX

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN

This newsletter will highlight grant opportunities that may apply to your group's project. See a money opportunity you wanna share? Email it to Eva Meszaros eva.c.meszaros@gmail.com. 

IOBY.org's next matching grant day is EARTH DAY. Any donation made that day will be doubled. So - don't wait! Get your project up on IOBY.org by March 30th and start your fundraising campaign now. Even if you don't have access yet, this is a great way to show that you have a community standing behind you. 

Don't forget about The New York Community Trust (rolling deadline)JM Kaplan Fund: City Life Program (rolling deadline);  http://awesomefoundation.org/blog/about/ (rolling deadline) and GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening Program's Annual Spring Plant Sale.

***Note that many grants require 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor. If your group or organization doesn't have 501(c)(3) status, Ioby is a great local option for fiscal sponsorship: if you have a project on IOBY.org, you get free fiscal sponsorship with it!


love,
596 Acres

News From The Acres Vol 2 Issue 7

16 March 2012

NEWS FROM THE ACRES

News, resources and invitations for participation from the decentralized projects on the 596 Acres; this section is built from your submissions. Submit every week by Wedneday 8pm for Friday's mailing. Send your submission to 596acres@gmail.com.
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Brooklyn Permaculture Discussion/Share Group
ALL ABOUT SEEDS,  Saturday, 3/31, 5:30 pm
599 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
The folks at BKPermaculture are pleased to invite you to join us for our second discuss/share group! Thanks to everyone who came out for last month's "Understanding Soil."  This month's topic is  "All About Seeds!"  We'll be discussing seed starting and hardening off for this year's garden, all while collectively making seed balls.  Let's take advantage of early spring and learn how to give our gardens a head start together! Bring seeds for the seed balls or swapping with your neighbors and food/drink if you'd like.General background reading found here:  http://ge.tt/9LYCbnC
RSVP and/or questions to megan(at)bkpermaculture.org

GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

We have 27 (!) active projects on our site as of this morning. Check it out and see if any of them are in your neighborhood! We have also made some changes to the website that we hope are making it easier for you to connect to your local communities. We would love feedback!

The Next 596 Acres General Meeting will be SATURDAY MARCH 24 AT 4PM at 462 Halsey Community Gardens. We'll distribute the next edition of the 596 Acres broadsheet, complete with an illustrated guide to taking over the lot in your life; we'll talk about challenges. 

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN

This newsletter will highlight grant opportunities that may apply to your group's project. See a money opportunity you wanna share? Email it to Eva Meszaros eva.c.meszaros@gmail.com. Don't forget about The New York Community Trust(rolling deadline)JM Kaplan Fund: City Life Program (rolling deadline);  http://awesomefoundation.org/blog/about/ (rolling deadline) and GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening Program's Annual Spring Plant Sale.

***Note that many grants require 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor. If your group or organization doesn't have 501(c)(3) status, Ioby is a great local option for fiscal sponsorship: if you have a project on IOBY.org, you get free fiscal sponsorship with it!


love,
596 Acres

A really nice sample letter

13 March 2012
tags: of note

This letter was not the first communication between Tami Johnson of A Small Green Patch -- he was anticipating it after a call from Paula Segal of 596 Acres. It's a great example of the kind of questions a new project should be ready to answer and a tone that works.

A Small Green Patch and FeedBack Farms is coming to Bergen Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue this Spring. They just put up their first official sign!

 

Dear Mr. Hammer,

 Brooklyn, block 1028, lot 7 - Vacant Lot: 487 4 AVENUE - Agency = Housing Preservation and Development

 I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Tami Johnson and I would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss the conversion of the vacant lot on the corner of 4th Avenue and 12th Street, (487 4th Avenue) in Brooklyn NY into a movable community garden/space for the neighborhood and community.

I say movable because I do not want to take over the vacant lot permanently but would like to coordinate a symbiotic relationship between the lot and the community for as long as you will let me. I am in the process of collecting signatures from my neighbors and should have over 10 people to sign on in the next couple of weeks.

I am raising money to pay for insurance, maintenance and other costs.

I have raised over $1135 thus far with a goal of $3780 needed to make the movable community garden happen and I have a few nurseries in the area that would like to donate trees and plants. I am also prepared to get the ground tested to ensure it’s safe for people to enter the lot. If the lot is not deemed safe yet because of pollutants from the Gowanus Coal and Gas companies that were in operation prior - I would like to grow the type of plants that will help filter the pollutants out of the soil to decontaminate the lot.

I have lived in this neighborhood  for 10 years now and also have a music studio that is a couple blocks away from this vacant lot. I’ve walked past the empty lot on the corner a thousand plus times on my way to rehearsal and to and from work. On one of these walks I had the idea of helping tend to the lot while at the same time providing a temporary movable community garden/space for the neighborhood.

I would like to ask for your permission to proceed forward with this project and would like to know what you need from me to begin the process. Would it be possible to create a movable community garden/space at 487 4th Avenue, Brooklyn?

Some ideas that could be done if you approve this project:

  • A movable garden with wooden planters built for trees, shrubs and flowers.
  • Organic Gardening where 1/2 of what is grown is given to a local soup kitchen each week (using milk-crate type food growing techniques)
  • Community classes teaching children how a tree grows or how a plant is planted.
  • Compost classes to educate the community about composting and  help recycle the polluted ground in the lot
  • Free monthly music events.
  • Allow artists that live on your block and in the area to show their work.
  • A  painted "public service announcement" mural on the side of the building next door designed by local and experienced mural painters

This idea would help the Housing Preservation and Development by:

  • Lot maintenance: all trash would be picked up and the sidewalks maintained around the lot weekly.
  • Snow removal - I will personally ensure that all snow is shoveled each year.
  • A sense of satisfaction knowing that the lot is well attended, provides a nice space for the neighborhood and improves the environment.

I have been coordinating with 596acres, ioby and have tried to tend to another lot by contacting Craig Hammerman at Community Board 6. I am also working with some of the local businesses in the area to help make this happen.


 

News From The Acres Vol 2 Issue 6

08 March 2012

NEWS FROM THE ACRES

News, resources and invitations for participation from the decentralized projects on the 596 Acres; this section is built from your submissions. Submit every week by Wedneday 8pm for Friday's mailing. Send your submission to 596acres@gmail.com.
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462 Halsey Community Garden is in need of volunteers!  We would like to increase our composting by including local businesses in saving food scraps for us to pick up and by getting more residents to drop off compost.  If you are available during the day, we would like to assemble a team of people to pass out and hang flyers around the bed stuy area and to give info sheets to local businesses, letting them know that we would like to arrange a compost deal with them.  If you are free and would like to help, contact Tia at kiwijustso@gmail.com.


GREEN WARRIORS UNITED

The Next 596 Acres General Meeting will be SATURDAY MARCH 24 AT 4PM. We'll distribute our next edition of the 596 Acres broadsheet, complete with an illustrated guide to taking over the lot in your life; we'll talk about challenges. 
ABOUT THE LOCATION: If you would like to host this meeting at your site and combine it with a workday on which you could use an influx of 20-30 sets of hands, let us know what you need done and where. We'd love to make that happen and will arrange a rain site in your neighborhood so that the meeting can happen even if the work can't. 

596 Acres will be at the Making Brooklyn Bloom conference at Brooklyn Botanic Garden on March 10. It's a wonderful event this year, full of really practical workshops and chances to meet seasoned greenspace warriors. More details here.

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN

This newsletter will highlight grant opportunities that may apply to your group's project. See a money opportunity you wanna share? Email it to Eva Meszaros eva.c.meszaros@gmail.com. Don't forget about The New York Community Trust(rolling deadline)JM Kaplan Fund: City Life Program (rolling deadline) and GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening Program's Annual Spring Plant Sale.

Grants for fruit trees + equipment! Deadline: March 15
http://www.communitiestakeroot.com/

Grants for awesomeness (no, really). They support community-developing and -empowering projects, among a broad array of other projects. Rolling deadline. http://awesomefoundation.org/blog/about/

***Note that many grants require 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor. If your group or organization doesn't have 501(c)(3) status, Ioby is a great local option for fiscal sponsorship: if you have a project on IOBY.org, you get free fiscal sponsorship with it!

love,
596 Acres

596 Acres: Exportable Tactics!

02 March 2012
tags: of note

We ran some Google analytics and noticed that folks all over the world are checking out our site. The green areas are all places that have virtually checked out the Acres.

This is great news. Maps and signs and green spaces where communities can be together are tactics that work well to build stronger bonds between people everywhere. Below is the story of our friends in Rio de Janiero, Brasil, building a garden in the face of gentrification and pacification in the favelas of that city.

GREEN MY FAVELA: AN ACT OF DEFIANCE

 Lea Rekow, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Fear, intimidation, and the ongoing militarization of space are all attempts to contain the favela as a space characterized by forceful occupation. Military police now control Rio de Janeiro’s Rocinha favela, arguably the largest slum in Brazil, having recently displaced the ruling drug faction.  However they still present a heavily armed presence through which they assert control. Rocinha’s quarter of a million residents occupy less than a square kilometer of steep land in a dense labyrinth that has no drainage, planned runoff, or sewerage system. There are few green spaces. 

Green My Favela is a collaborative food security project situated inside Rocinha.  It is born out of intense socio-political, economic, and cultural repression and represents our capabilities to adapt to the most radical of conditions. Within this context, Green My Favela represents the practice of freedom. Through its very existence, it becomes a mediator for the examination of civil society, and an important catalyst for building social networking that is change in itself.

Green My Favela represents a foodscape of inner city poverty, community needs, urban renewal, and ecological restoration.  This long-term project is a collaboration between myself, Tio Lino’s Mundo da Arte, Alegria das and Crianças crèche, and is supported by Visom Digital (under the direction of Adriana, my amazing working partner in this endeavor).  Our goals are to work with children to produce food to feed children; to cultivate edible green space; to increase food security; and provide a safe space for at-risk children.  Our metaproject is to locate, map, and reclaim vacant lots in Rocinha, and to develop them as community food forests.  The project is fully maintained by the children of Rocinha, under the supervision of Tio Lino.

Our project began with a conversation between myself and Tio Lino, who grew up in Rocinha, and remembers it as a small rural community.  The name Rocinha literally means “little farm”.  It developed as a local agricultural center settled by Portuguese, French and Italian farmers who cultivated small plots on the hillside from around 1930.  It later became a supply center of vegetables for the city of Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul (South Zone) at the end of the 1950s after the second world war as more immigrants moved in from other parts of Brazil, such as Minas Gerais and the Northeast.  

Tio was able to gain access to a vacant lot of land that had long been used as a dumping ground by local residents.  Years of trash had built up on the site, an area of around 8 meters square.  Trash had even been dumped in the water supply, which was now disused, and a potential haven for all kinds of infectious diseases.

In January this year, with the help of 14 Australian volunteers, Tio Lino and the kids from his children’s center, Rocinha Media School, and some local workers, we began transforming the space.  We first removed the layers of trash, repurposing some of the materials to use in the garden.  There were piles of bricks which we used to help build a series of terraces, steps, pathways, and garden beds, as the land is quite steep.  We raked out the remaining trash from the soil, tilled it, sealed the old trash-filled water supply, lay pipes to a clean water supply, and have laid mulch and organic fertilizer as a top layer. We are now relying on the children to plant, cultivate, and maintain the garden on a daily basis.

We are ready to plant the edibles, and are on our biggest mission yet, to find organic seeds and seedlings which are not commercially available for purchase in Brazil.  At least we have located an organic farm two hours out of the city with which we have scheduled a visit.  We are also waiting for the soil tests to come back to us.

On the advice of 596, we are also beginning to map other vacant lots and are preparing to identify them by branding them with signage. Soaring real estate prices in Rio due to the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics have now made the city more expensive to live in than New York. With the favela now “pacified” by police, real estate prices have tripled overnight.  Our fear is that these vacant lots will be gobbled up by development, so we are strategizing how to secure and conserve them as green spaces. 

As we move forward, our overall aim is to see Rocinha socially and environmentally restored through providing Rocinha’s children with creative purpose, real-world education, affection, and motivation to improve their quality of life, oh yeah, and good, healthy food!

www.greenmyfavela.org

Photos of the garden are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenmyfavela/

and you can watch a video of the first planting here: http://youtu.be/D-bYWKSDmzk

 

News From The Acres Vol 2 Issue 5

01 March 2012

This mailing has three sections -- GREEN WARRIORS UNITED (the news from 596 Acres as an organization), NEWS FROM THE ACRES (news, resources and invitations for participation from the decentralized projects on the 596 Acres) and GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN (funding opportunities). We're just testing this out, and would love your feedback. Let us know how it's working!

NEWS FROM THE ACRES

News, resources and invitations for participation from the decentralized projects on the 596 Acres; this section is built from your submissions. Submit every week by Wedneday 8pm for Friday's mailing. Send your submission to 596acres@gmail.com.
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If you live or work in Bed Stuy and are looking for a project -- there's a wonderful sunny lot on Putnam and Patchen with a community group just starting to bud around it. HPD has already said that the space is available for at least the next 5 years. Join them! Spring is full of possibilities!
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Two events from Myrtle Village Green:
Thursday, March 1, 6:30-7:30pm, Wally’s Square Root (Classon and Myrtle)
Get an update on our communications with DEP, rumors that we have heard about City Council’s plans for the site and to make a workplan for this weekend.

Sunday, March 4, 10am-2pm 
MVG will have a presence in front of the Myrtle Avenue Parcel (Myrtle between Kent and Franklin). Bring your enthusiasm for your neighborhood, a camera, things to plant, signs, containers, gloves, chalk, wire, seedbombs, empty soda bottles to make plant hangers from, etc. We will have an updated list after Thursday’s meeting. If you have ideas, please bring those!


GREEN WARRIORS UNITED


We need an illustrator -- quick!
We have content ready for a graphic representation of the concurrent processes that it takes to turn vacant public land into community green space -- the community organizing and the government negotiations. You can view the content here. An affinity group of six of us came up with this content. It will be printed on the backs of next set of one thousand 596 Acres maps of Brooklyn and put up on vacant lots around the 5 boroughs. Visually, we are hoping to have it end up being very hand-made looking (maybe hand-lettered?) and it will be off-set printed in black and white with one spot color.

We can pay someone a stipend of $100 for a final design, and will be very generous with giving credit. If you are interested, please send some samples of your work to 596acres@gmail.com by midnight, Monday, March 5.

Here's our timeline (it's quick!). The date for a finished design is March 14, 2012.

We will chose someone by midnight, Wednesday, March 7.
We will expect a draft by midnight, Sunday, March 11.
We will give feedback within 24 hours and you will give us final, print-ready digital file by midnight, Wednesday, March 14. We can provide guidance in setting up documents for off-set printing if you need it. 


Chances to See...
Save the date: 596 Acres will be at the Making Brooklyn Bloom conference at Brooklyn Botanic Garden on March 10. It's a wonderful event this year, full of really practical workshops and chances to meet seasoned greenspace warriors. More details here.

Vote for Us - once a day every day until March 8!
Please take a moment today and as often as you can to vote for 596 Acres in BigApps 3.0 -- we've entered a contest that allows each voter one vote per day! We are competing for being the best application using NYC data. We know you love it. (Vote daily until March 8 - we know that's crazy, but we really want to win!)

GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN

This newsletter will highlight grant opportunities that may apply to your group's project. See a money opportunity you wanna share? Email it to Eva Meszaros eva.c.meszaros@gmail.com. Don't forget about The New York Community Trust(rolling deadline)JM Kaplan Fund: City Life Program (rolling deadline) and GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening Program's Annual Spring Plant Sale.

***Note that many grants require 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor. If your group or organization doesn't have 501(c)(3) status, Ioby is a great local option for fiscal sponsorship: if you have a project on IOBY.org, you get free fiscal sponsorship with it!

love,
596 Acres