Shedding Light on Public Land and Buildings to Empower Communities: NYCommons.org

NYCommons.org is an organizing platform for residents and organizers who want to understand public leverage over the development of public assets. The site was created in collaboration with 596 Acres and Common Cause New York.

Publicly owned land and buildings create important opportunities to create shared community spaces, affordable housing, and more, but too often, these sites are sold or taken out of public control with very little meaningful community input. NYCommons breaks this pattern and gives New York City residents a say in decisions over public assets. In 2016, as part of developing the tool, TakeRoot partnered with local groups in three neighborhoods to shed light on the publicly-owned property in these areas and ways community members can influence what happens to these properties. Working with broad, racially diverse coalitions on Staten Island’s North Shore, on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and in Red Hook, Brooklyn, TakeRoot and its partners hosted workshops that focused on key local sites and empowered community members with information about points of leverage in the development of these sites. The NYCommons events supported and strengthened the organizing of these local coalitions. In Staten Island, the Parks Department committed to rebuild a community center that our local partners have strived to realize for years. On the Lower East Side, Parks has committed to renovating and re-opening a parks building that has been closed to all recreational uses since the 1970s.