About Neighborhoods Now
In collaboration with the Urban Design Forum, Neighborhoods Now connects neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with leading design firms. In Bed-Stuy, Jackson Heights, Kingsbridge, and Washington Heights, these working groups are collaborating to develop safe and effective reopening strategies.
The outcomes are a set of design recommendations, prototypes, and installations empowering communities to respond to their immediate needs, while contributing to the city-wide strategy on pandemic response. In some neighborhoods, prototypes have already been implemented, and Van Alen and Urban Design Forum are actively fundraising to support additional implementation.
Learn more about Neighborhoods Now.
Goals and Outcomes
The team collaborated with garden leaders and used Neighborhoods Now funding to hire youth organizers to become stewards and leaders in their communities and spur engagement of younger residents.
Community Garden Plans
The team assessed five community gardens on Banana Kelly properties, which each presented unique opportunities and constraints. They created site-specific visions for each garden, plus toolkits that can be deployed across many sites. Visions range from the simple—such as turning readily available buckets into modular rolling garden beds—to complex, such as creating new and ADA-accessible access points that require negotiation with an adjacent property owner, now in progress.
Transformation and Activation
Through an arrangement with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Banana Kelly plans to acquire a vacant lot on East 163rd Street. Transformation and activation strategies ranged from rearranging garden bed layouts to dynamically fit real-time needs, to building kiosk structures for information sharing and sun protection.
BD Feliz developed a series of vinyl stickers to optimize wayfinding and enhance gardens’ visibility on the street. The markers can be easily installed or removed at a moment’s notice to guide visitors to entrances and contribute to the greater garden identity.
The Sustainability Index Plan (SIP), developed by The Greenest Fern, is a guide to facilitate the long-term planning of community gardens as well as the sustainable reporting and management of these spaces.
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We sat down with Ian Gray-Stack, Director of Community Organizing at Banana Kelly. Banana Kelly is leading our South Bronx working group, which aims to reactivate community gardens in Longwood, Hunts Point, Morrisania, and Mott Haven, allowing for safe outdoor activities and services that address neighborhood needs.