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Over on the Municipal Art Society’s website, I sit down with last year’s Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award winner Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. Stream the interview on the site, or download it for your mp3 player.

The YGCP Award honors the unsung heroes of grassroots, community-based planning.  Nominations for the 2009 are open until the end of this month.  Read more and nominate someone online here.


Thursday, May 14, the Community-Based Planning Task Force will join the One City/One Future initiative for a day-long forum about Economic Development and Recovery in New York City.

A follow-up to 1C1F’s recently-released Blueprint for Growth that Works for All New Yorkers, this conference will bring together elected officials, advocates, and grassroots leaders from a range of sectors – from jobs and workforce development to housing, greening our economy, and strengthening our neighborhoods – to explore the current economic context and its impacts on communities, and to work toward solutions for the City’s long-term recovery and sustained economic health.

The forum will be held from 9:30am to 5:30pm at New York University’s Kimmell Center, 60 Washington Square South.  The Task Force will present and discuss our legislative agenda at 2:45pm.  Register online – It’s free!

Last weekend, Task Force members the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership teamed up with the Storefront for Art and Architecture to bring the Space Buster, a portable bubble designed by German architecture firm Raumlabor, to a space underneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.  Participants from the neighborhood gathered inside the bubble to envision how the space might be enlivened, and came up with a number of ideas, from a community garden to a swimming pool.  Check out a set of photographs and drawings from the event (such as the one seen above) at Myrtle Minutes.

The Accountable Development Working Group, a project of the Fifth Avenue Committee, meets this Wednesday evening (April 29th)  from 6-8pm, at Fifth Avenue Committee -621 DeGraw St. near Fourth Avenue (R train to Union).  The agenda is as follows:

  • Gowanus Canal Superfund nomination.
  • Formation of a Gowanus tenants’ union?
  • Sunset Park Rezoning — it’s moving!
  • Sunset Park housing survey — volunteers needed!

For more information, or to RSVP, contact Dave Powell via email or (718) 237-2017 ext 148.

On Saturday, May 16th the Municipal Art Society Planning Center will launch the third annual Livable Neighborhoods Program training at Hunter College. Join over one hundred New Yorkers from neighborhoods across the city to learn more about how to make positive transformations in your neighborhood. Past facilitators have included Tom Angotti of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development, Anthony Borelli of the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and Vicki Weiner of the Pratt Center for Community Development.

Important Information:

Date and Time: Saturday May 16, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Registration Deadline: Friday, May 1, 2009
Who Can Attend? Registration is open the public, however priority is given to members of grassroots organizations and community boards.
What Is The Cost? Participation in the program is free.
Where Is The Training? The training will take place at Hunter College with special assistance from Hunter College’s Center for Community Planning and Development (CCPD). Hunter College is located at 695 Park Ave (Manhattan). Corner of 68th Street and Lexington Ave.
Will Food Be Served? Yes. We will provide breakfast and lunch.

Can I Bring My Child? Yes. The LNP is designed to be as convenient for participants as possible. We will have a supervised children’s activity room available for children school age and up.

To register online please visit

For more information, please contact Sideya Sherman, at or call 212.935.3960 x259.

The Maysels Cinema in Harlem will be screening  “Rezoning Harlem” this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  This documentary film explores the recently-approved rezoning of 125th Street. Directed by students in Hunter College’s graduate planning program, it follows the opposition to the City’s plan through their struggle to advocate for affordable housing, and against the displacement of viable local businesses and the loss of a one of the world’s most famed African-American neighborhoods.

Maysels presents the film along with three panel discussions:

– Wednesday’s “Community Night Forum” features Monique Indigo Washington of  the Coalition to Save Harlem (pictured above), and Michael Henry Adams, an historian, preservationist, and author of “Harlem: Lost and Found.”

-Thursday’s “Next Steps: Making Community-Based Planning a Reality” features Eve Baron, Director of the Municipal Art Society Planning Center; City Council Member Tony Avella; and Mercedes Narciso, formerly of the Pratt Center for Community Development.

Friday’s “Housing Issues Workshop” features Julius Tajidin.

All three screenings begin at 7:30 pm at the Maysels Cinema, 343 Malcolm X Blvd / Lenox Ave (Between 127th and 128th Streets).  The directors, Natasha Florentino & Tamara Gubernat, will be present for each event.

The Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award (YGCP) acknowledges the hard-working leaders of grassroots, community-based planning. The award was created to commemorate Yolanda Garcia, a community activist in the South Bronx (seen at work in the photo at left). Under Garcia’s leadership, the residents of Melrose challenged the city, created an alternative to an urban renewal plan, and transformed a neighborhood. The organization created by Garcia, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, is bringing that community’s vision to life through planning, design, construction, and programming.

In 2007, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) presented the second annual YGCP award to Elizabeth Yeampierre for her work with the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), which has engaged local residents, particularly youth, in multiple community planning and environmental justice initiatives along the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn.  Last year’s winner was Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. The award recognized her work engaging a diverse community and local youth in open space and environmental issues on the barrier island of Far Rockaway, Queens.

MAS will accept nominations online for the 2009 YGCP award now through May 29.  For a printed copy of the nomination form, please contact us.

Award criteria and more information after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Newsday reports today that agreement in Albany on a bailout plan for the $1.2 billion-in-debt MTA is unlikely to happen by the MTA’s Wednesday deadline:

“Paterson and the Assembly’s Democratic majority back a plan from a state commission led by former MTA chief Richard Ravitch that would close the $1.2-billion budget deficit with new tolls on the now-free East River and Harlem River spans, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, and a payroll tax on employers in the 12 counties served by the authority.

At least seven Democrats in the State Senate majority oppose the bridge tolls. And the Republican minority objects to the payroll tax and absence of a plan to improve roads and bridges upstate and on Long Island. So the 32 votes needed in the Senate aren’t there.”

As the deadline draws closer, groups around the city are working to get the word out to constituents and help people contact their State representatives.

The Regional Plan Association has recently mapped the proposed service cuts by Senate and Assembly District, and on an interactive map.  Comptroller Thompson’s office has also created a similar interactive map.

Last week, a group of representatives from a number of City organizations attended a lobby day in Albany.  They brought back this film documenting their efforts.

Transportation Alternatives relased a funny video depicting the “MTA 2009 Telethon,” but will also be hosting a very serious phone-a-thon on Wednesday from 8am to noon with tables, phones and district maps stationed on the south side of Union Square.

Use these websites to find the contact information of your State Senator and Assemblyperson.

The Fifth Avenue Committee, aTask Force member organization focused on South Brooklyn, is hosting two meetings this week:

Tuesday, March 24:  Demystifying Zoning: Gowanus — Catering specifically to Gowanus residents, this workshop will explore zoning basics as well as the Gowanus rezoning map specifically.   There will also be group exercises to assess – building by building, zone by zone – which structures in the Gowanus framework face the greatest threat from demolition under the City’s current plan.

(For more information about the Gowanus rezoning, check out the Municipal Art Society’s recent post: A Great Place to Work, But to Live?)

Wednesday, March 25: Accountable Development Working Group Meeting – This group meets monthly to discuss accountable development issues in Brooklyn.  This meeting will focus on the Right to the City (RTTC) curriculum.  Fifth Avenue Committee is a member of RTTC, a national alliance of racial, economic and environmental justice organizations which seeks to halt the displacement of low-income people from their historic urban neighborhoods.  The curriculum is meant as an introduction to RTTC as well as a spring board for discussion and action around issues of displacement.

Both meetings will be held in English and Spanish at the FAC office, 621 DeGraw Street btw. 3rd and 4th Avenues.

For more information or to RSVP, Contact Davel Powell at (718) 237-2017, ext 148 or

Community groups CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities and the O.U.R Waterfront Coalition are sponsoring three visioning sessions in March and April focused on the future of the East River Waterfront.  From their email:

“CAAAV and the O.U.R. Waterfront Coalition have been working since 2007 to ensure that the LES and Chinatown’s waterfront is developed for community residents, with services, programs, and businesses that WE want, instead of being developed by the City for wealthy residents and tourists.

Now, we want to hear your ideas for our waterfront so that we can turn your ideas into reality! Come to our free and public visioning sessions to share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams for our waterfront!”

The visioning dates are as follows:

Sunday, March 22, 1 to 3 p.m. @ 139 Henry Street (in Chinese and English)

Tuesday, April 7, 6 to 8 p.m. @ 80 Rutgers Slip (in English and Spanish)

Wednesday, April 22, 6 to 8 p.m. @ 184 Eldridge Street (in English and Chinese)

For more information, call Esther Wang at (212) 473-6485 or email

Since 2000, The Community-Based Planning Task Force has been leading the effort to create a more meaningful role for communities in New York City’s planning and decision-making processes.

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