Sunday August 19, 2012: a group of neighbors came together with local organizations, 596 Acres, Green Map NYC & Time’s Up! Environmental Group and helped claim an abandoned lot at 181 Stanton Street for a community space and garden. This wasn’t the 1970’s; it was 2012.
In mid-July 2012, a group of diverse Lower East Side neighbors converged on Stanton Street to discuss three empty undersized lots (two city-owned flanking a privately-owned lot) which had been an eyesore for many years. Although some had been tending garden plants for over a decade and/or dreaming of socially beneficial uses of these rat-infested lots, there had not been an inclusive conversation until that point. Quickly, it was determined that a garden clean up day one month later could generate support from other neighbors and begin the process of co-creating a community space with garden, learning ‘farm’ for nearby schools, art and workshop space. More people got involved through the lots’ 596acres webpage. Tools were borrowed from GrowNYC, and people donated plants, gloves, trashbags, etc as well as the printing of petitions and bilingual posters announcing the August 19, 2012 event.
In three hours that Sunday, over two dozen people pitched in – the moldering debris was removed, new perennials were planted and the soil was loosened up a bit – suddenly, passersby could envision a lush community garden where nature, children and adults of all backgrounds could flourish. More than 225 people signed the petition on the spot.
Video of 8/19/12 Garden Action:
The next clean up day is being planned as well as an appeal to the Community Board to reconsider the use for these publicly owned lots. In April, The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, HPD, with the private owner’s architects, presented plans to Community Board 3 that would combine the small private parcel with the garden lots in order to build luxury housing, destroying much needed green space and blocking sunlight and air.
We think there is a better alternative
Next steps; help name the garden, design the garden, plant the garden, and cultivate an ongoing relationship with the new community space. Your support is critical.