596 Acres distributes information about publicly owned vacant land in Brooklyn by publishing print maps, creating and hosting an interactive map, holding land use visioning sessions (see http://596acres.org/news/2011/12/14/request-vacant-public-land-visioning-session-your-/), and providing advocacy and support for community-based groups all over Brooklyn as they negotiate with city agencies for permission to use currently vacant and fenced-off lots for community-determined projects. Since we tested our tactics in a pilot project in June 2011, fifteen communities have begun the process of organizing for control of their physical space (http://596acres.org/lot/organizing/).
Eric is the programmer and amateur cartographer behind the interactive map at 596acres.org. He works on other food and data projects in the city, including Farming Concrete (a research experiment in measuring the amount of food grown in NYC's community gardens: farmingconcrete.org) and Food Census (a community-driven attempt to map food retail stores in Brooklyn: foodcensus.org). He tries to use the internet as a way to get people together in real life.
We'd like to fund a dramatic extension to our current project by adding the publicly owned vacant lots in the other four boroughs to our site. This will give the communities in the rest of the city an idea of which vacant lots are owned by the city. It will also give these communities an opportunity to take advantage of this land using the knowledge and tactics that we have developed over the past eight months in Brooklyn.
The phase of the project that we are seeking funding for will help us get the data online. Once we do that, we plan on creating posters for each borough, printing them, and posting them on fenced lots as we have done in Brooklyn. From there, we will work with interested groups in each borough to help communities get control of the land near them. If the residents of the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island are as receptive to this data as those in Brooklyn have been, we expect to see a number of new community gardens and community-determined spaces created as a direct result of the publication of this data. Funding from the Awesome Foundation would help us grow!
Funded by New York City, NY (April 2012)