Gowanus Action


    Resident-led design projects in our home of Gowanus, Brooklyn.


    To do community-centered work, we need to be an active member of our own community. 

    Since moving to Gowanus in 2020, we’ve collaborated closely with our neighbors to support local, resident-led design projects. In order to understand how we could best support our new neighbors, we launched the Neighborhood Design Fellowship, a paid design-training program where residents learn about design justice and work together on Gowanus-based projects that promote equity, inclusivity, and community-driven change. The Fellows identified the Points of Agreements — a comprehensive though non-binding rezoning plan between the city, developers, and the Gowanus community — as the focus of their ongoing work. With our support, they’ve launched two projects that address the Points of Agreement, including the historic and continued Gowanus Canal pollution and the Gowanus Houses Community Center renovation and reopening.

    We also host the monthly Community Board 6 meetings, throw an annual block party celebrating the creativity and culture of Gowanus, and partner with neighboring organizations to address issues identified by the community.


    Gowanus Houses Community Center

    A project focused on making the center more welcoming, celebrating its history, and transforming the space into an informational hub for the community.

    Neighborhood Design Fellowship: Gowanus

    Gowanus residents work toward the future they imagine for their community.

    In the News

    City Limits

    As Gowanus Rezoning Moves Ahead, Are the Sewers Ready?

    Architect Magazine

    Building Relationships to Design Spatial Justice

    Hear from Locals

    Gowanus Houses Community Photo Album

    Help us create a Community Photo Album that celebrates the Gowanus Houses community!

    “This community was always a family”: Voices from NYCHA’s Gowanus Houses

    In Summer 2022, past and present residents of NYCHA’s Gowanus Houses gathered for the annual Old Timers Day. As part of an ongoing storytelling project, we spoke to event attendees about memories from the Houses and what community means to them.

    Q&A with Steven Koller, Neighborhood Design Fellow

    One of our Gowanus fellows tells us about a new project to increase water quality awareness in the neighborhood.

    Annual Block Party

    Photos + Video: Van Alen Block Party 2023

    The Block Party was all about our community of Gowanus — a community deeply and actively committed to ensuring that the needs of every single resident are met. Gowanus is experiencing huge changes right now, so it’s more important than ever to connect with neighbors and get to know the folks who make up this neighborhood right here, right now.

    Van Alen Block Party 2022

    Thank you to everyone who came out for our second annual Van Alen Block Party on October 22, 2022! This spectacular day was made possible by the help of our Gowanus Fellows, along with our generous supporters and the countless performers, vendors, and volunteers who transformed a Brooklyn block into an epic celebration of community and public space.

    Van Alen Block Party 2021

    Thank you to everyone who came out and made Van Alen Institute’s inaugural Block Party in Gowanus an incredible success.