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by greenspacenyc – 12/29/2014

Our team is currently planning 2015 public programming for our storefront project, the Civic Art Lab.

Since 2011, we have run our organization solely through volunteer services, in-kind donations, material and venue sponsorship. GREENSPACENYC receives its non-profit status through fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas and material sponsorship from Material for the Arts (NYC Department for Cultural Affairs). Our venue partners include Wix Lounge, a free co-working space sponsored by; Hack Manhattan a community hackerspace; Fat Cat a local Greenwich Village culture lounge looking to maximize the use of their space during the day as a co-working and education space equipped with maker-lab; HI-NY, a hostel hosting an international community of young travelers. We have hosted workshops as part of The New Museum’s Ideas City street festival, FIGMENT NYC, and were invited to showcase our placemaking research strategies The Interaction Design and Children Conference at Parsons The New School for Design and Sesame Workshop, where we engaged with scholars, educators, and designers who create media technologies for children which are applicable to urban space. Recently we won the Urban Urge Award seed grant which helps fund our storefront education initiative.

Community Storefront: Civic Art Lab
The lab will be hosted at this location in collaboration with our network of teaching architects, designers, urban planners. We are interested in hosting this series in June, July, or August 2015. Operating within the context of diverse under-resourced, neighborhoods; the events, activities, and projects will be accessible to people of all ages with a focus on creative placemaking, social sustainability, and embracing Do-It-Yourself culture. We will provide an ethnically diverse neighborhood with free public events centered around the cultural assets of the area, inviting residents to discuss and re-imagine the place they call home. It is our goal that this initiative will result in the establishment of a network of artists, businesses, and community groups who will develop placemaking strategies for the neighborhood. Of particular interest is re-invigorating the under-resourced central Brooklyn area. Possible storefront projects that will be explored with community participants during our programming include, but are not limited to: public artwork collaboration with the Department of Transportation; Proposing the connection and preservation of adjacent Historic Districts; Annual celebration of local arts & culture; Activation of plaza with free knowledge-sharing events and/or outdoor cafe seating.

As part of our programming initiatives the Civic Art Lab public programming includes projects proposed for New York coastal communities still enduring the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy will be developed in collaboration with our partner Operation Resilient Long Island (ORLI) a grassroots committee of young emerging architects from Long Island and New York City who foster the adoption of resilient planning and building strategies. Based around a traveling exhibition, our programming led by local designers will explore and develop methods to aid local communities by highlighting light-fast-and inexpensive creative strategies to identify and magnify place-based assets that make their community vibrant places to live while finding long-term resilient building and design solutions.

Each of our projects are collaborations between artists, businesses, local organizations, institutions, and the community at-large. On the one hand our pop-up public programming temporarily activates vacant or under-used public or private spaces. This shows people how spaces can be creatively re-imagined and used for public good. On the other, the programming encourages the long-term development establishment of places where people want to visit and enjoy, through hands-on envisioning activities and the creation of networks of people necessary to make positive change in a neighborhood or city. As well as encouraging businesses to invest in a neighborhood while encouraging pedestrian activity on the street which is a benefit to local businesses and safety.

GREENSPACENYC encourages creative uses of public and private space, enlivening and reimagining neighborhoods and communities through hosting participatory workshops. Each workshop encourages peer-to-peer knowledge sharing in devising strategies to re-imagine and develop vital places. We are currently seeking experienced educators and sustainability enthusiasts to join our Summer 2015 initiative and would love to hear from you! Please get in touch by emailing us at

Guest post by Grace Johnson – 09/13/2014

A few days ago my roommate told me about a conversation she had with her friend regarding a project that she’s interested in developing. As an art history major, she is in-tune with current art trends but is concerned about its role in society, especially in helping to break down barriers that exist among us (“I just want it to be applicable,” she admits). She’s thinking about developing a proposal for a “community art project” that will bring together all members of the community.

“It’s innovative!” she argues. Her friend cooly responds, “I just don’t see the point!” Apparently, their inevitably moot discussion didn’t advance much further..

She and I were both surprised at his response. I mean, of course there is a point in bringing people together..right? It’s worth the resources, the time; and it can make a difference. However not ALL people see it that way. Even in the field of sustainability.

As many of us know, the Brundtland Report defines sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” When one thinks of sustainability, in the general sense and in terms of sustainable development, art is typically not the first thought in mind. However, in discussing sustainable communities, art can play a huge role and should be viewed as key in future efforts. Why? In a nutshell, art can empower communities and deliver a sense of ownership of one’s place. That is exactly the sort of concrete effort that can help develop social and economic resiliency.

Sustainable communities are healthy and resilient. They require positive interaction, a sense of place, and inclusiveness. Likewise, sustainability in social systems addresses the complexities in human interaction that cut across all different facets of society. It encompasses politics and culture, and intersects economic and environmental sustainability. It reflects upon issues of equity, health, livelihood, as well as emotional and physical well being. Consequently, the way we view and think about our personal environment can form a platform for the development of a stable foundation for healthy living.

In the same vein, art affords us another way to interact with our surroundings. It can influence the way we think about things as simplistic as our next meal or as complex as what we want to do in life. It can inspire us (or disgust us), and is also deeply entrenched and embedded in aspects of politics, economics, and culture. Art is applicable to sustainable development that is global in perspective. Art can and has played a noble role in fostering diplomatic relationships, and continuously plays the role of bringing the unlikeliest of people together.

What’s more, art is highly relevant to the well being of children and adults. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children have the right to leisure, play and culture (article 31): “Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if communities (on all levels) ensured that all children had the same access to the ability to express themselves through art that we do? This is why community initiatives such as Greenspace NYC are so vital. They involve the public on important issues in sustainability through education, engagement, and creative activities that inspire us. This, in my opinion, is the crux of sustainability.

And that leads me back to my roommate and her boyfriend. I just know that they would see things eye to eye if they could agree on one thing (which they probably already do). Artistic expression, good or bad, helps sustain relationships!

To join our growth and our fun, mark your calendars for July 25th! HI-NY has an amazing outdoor space on the Upper West Side that we are filling with great music, food, hands-on activities and speakers on sustainability. RSVP:

Artistic materials provided through Material for the Arts,
NYC Office of Cultural Affairs

Beer provided by Brooklyn Brewery
Musical performance by Dan Asselin of Hayride Casualties.
Dan Asselin is singer-songwriter for Hayride Casualties, a “climate folk” band that draws on the absurd injustice of the climate crisis in original music that is funny, poignant and incendiary, with strong melodies to drive the message home. Download Hayride Casualties’ single and live album at

Comedic performance by Christian Cintron. Christian Cintron is an actor, stand up comic, and writer. While in Los Angeles, he produced his own low budget web series, Absolute Cintron. He is a graduate of both the Second City Training Center and Improv Olympic (iO) West in Hollywood. He has appeared at various comedy clubs and has multiple television appearances including The Wendy Williams Show. For more: Twitter: @AbsoluteCintron
Additional sponsors include: Susty Cup, Drink More Good, Fractured Atlas, ORLI, sun|tect: architecture, Purple Tugboat Creative and more to be announced.

Earlier this Spring, GreenspaceNYC celebrated its 3rd birthday. GreenspaceNYC ( is a non-profit collaborative that develops and curates free educational programming, hands-on workshops, and public design projects that encourage dialogue, enliven public spaces, and promote the future of a more equitable and sustainable city. Activities take place at public parks, sidewalks, plazas, vacant lots, community gardens, hacker spaces, cultural institutions, and local businesses.

We are very excited to host this get-together! Considering 26 workshops and events and workshops, 1000+ event participants, this 3 year-old has covered a lot of ground and has some great things in store for its future. GreenspaceNYC continues to move the organization forward–we are committed to our goal of facilitating a green community in the city through free events, discussions and projects. We’ve done our work solely with help of volunteers and material and in-kind donations from our awesome community partners.

Our aim this year is to raise funds to host a month-long community storefront in Spring/Summer 2015.

GreenspaceNYC is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, giving it its status as a 501(c)(3) and receives material sponsorship from Material for the Arts (NYC Office of Cultural Affairs).

For all inquiries or interest in collaborating with our team email us at

Raising GreenspaceNYC 2, like all of the GreenspaceNYC events, is free and open to everyone, however if you are able, we graciously request a $20 donation for this special fundraising event, and we have exclusive gifts for people who are willing to donate at a higher level. To register for this event, you can rsvp through meetup/eventbrite OR you can click here to submit your donation which automatically adds you to the guest list. GreenspaceNYC is a registered 501(c)3, so all donations are tax deductible.

By Laura Scherling — 06/12/2014

Food geography is a complicated subject. It fills my life three times per day—-probably more because I’m constantly snacking. Food fills me with joy, worry, and constant confusion. Sharing and eating food is one of my favorite aspects of placemaking or what makes a place great to live.

I’ve never suffered from a food shortage. With a modest budget in hand I am constantly trying to eat sustainably, organically, and free of confusion. I browse through the aisles leisurely, at a snail’s pace, periodically visiting NYC’s farmers’ markets and Whole Foods, regularly visiting Trader Joe’s and C-Town. As a regular shopper of Trader Joe’s and C-Town I am particularly dumbfounded. While the farmers’ markets are particularly transparent and Whole Foods’ mission statement is particularly bold-organic-non-GMO, I am perplexed by the produce and sodium content at Trader Joe’s. The C-Town in Park Slope is great with labeling organic and natural versus the other kind which leaves me to weigh my options——organic kale on the left side of the produce department or the other kale on the not-so-organic side of the produce department, Bell & Evan’s organic antibiotic-free chicken or the possibly antibiotic-tainted rotisserie chicken that looks delicious and well-prepared and I’m too scared to ask where it came from.

I worry about what goes into my son’s belly, my own, and my partner’s. I don’t lose sleep over it. Yet, I ponder the injustice of it all. Why can’t we regulate this? Is Stevia really good for me? Who grew my coffee? How did this granola bar end up with so much sugar in it? What does a sugar factory even look like? When I get home tonight should I “YouTube” videos of white bread production—-the non-organic kind that I don’t make my son’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with.

Before I took on my career as a designer I tried out culinary and food studies courses. I learned about the science of food, preparing bulk quantities. I learned to make sauces, pastries, salads, and breakfast. I loved taking courses around the subject—- from microbiology to labor relations. From microbiology, I developed lifelong germophobic tendencies and an indelible fear of botulism. In labor relations I was booed for my rambling presentations about food and globalization and the horrors of sweatshop labor—- I think I would have conducted this more diplomatically, now at 30, rather than 18.

The questions about food and more recently self-care products have persistently troubled me. Our man-made change in climate is negatively impacting food production. And our food production techniques are negatively impacting the climate. Already, food inequality is widespread: “food deserts” persist in low-income neighborhoods where residents struggle to find nutritious and fresh food, and I only see this getting worse. The USDA’s “Food Access Research Atlas” aims to illustrate accessibility to sources of healthy food, as measured by distance to a store or by the number of stores in an area. Many education resources are available about this topic. For example, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing site has a lot of helpful information: It’.s common knowledge, in low-income American neighborhoods there are fast food joints galore. In developing countries the food crises are unimaginably bad. According the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization as many as 1 in 8 people on this planet are “suffering from chronic undernourishment”.

It makes my troubles seem petty. I feel lucky to have access to fresh food. I’m grateful to live in a developed nation, in a beautiful neighborhood, in a nice apartment. And despite all that makes me happy, I still feel very confused by the state of food production, food consumption, and the marketing and advertising surrounding it. What does “organic” even mean? Why do I have to spend additional money, well outside of my household budget, to purchase food that hasn’t been tainted, injected with hormones, bleached, ridden with pesticides, and food additives. Furthermore, it is unclear how substantial the differences between organic and non-organic foods are. Better, but by how much exactly?

“Organic” is an aspiration and a buzz word. And I hope it is something that all food producers and distributors desire to be. And that is unclear, too. Furthermore, I still don’t understand why we haven’t done away with sulfites and other chemicals that are known to have negative side effects. In this use case, it is all about the benjamins and nothing more. I admire tactical interventions like urban homesteads, community gardens, and indoor vegetable gardens. There is clearly a crisis and one that is particularly confusing. There are top-down initiatives that are needed to enact true social change and eradicate this food crisis. And this requires a lot of teamwork and dedication on all levels.