Reporters’ book A guide for design-based ethnographic research 9 th street Community Garden In Young Kim, Anne Lee, Bridget Dunne, Soo Young Kim
Part 1: Interview
1.1 Description What do they do? (Description of service idea, e.g. a community garden, a food coop, etc). What are the demands/problems this initiative responds to? What is the aim of the initiative? What happens and how does it happens? What benefits does it bring to the neighborhood? The 9th Street community garden, as a part of the Green Thumb organization, provides a place for its members to plant and grow crops as well as a place to come and relax. Regeneration of public space by managing public areas produces positive benefits for the community. It can improve aesthetical aspects of the community and provide a sense of personal well-being, proactive relationships, pleasure in doing, and places value on the environment. By supporting community involvement through gardening, the garden contributes to the revitalization of the city and the community. The garden provides opportunities for people to introduce new day-to-day activities, getting together in one place for one cause to support each other, and showing sustainable ways to provide food. 1.2 Context What is this neighborhood like? How was it before this new solution took place? The garden is located on the lower east side, at 9th street and Avenue C. The neighborhood is home to mostly low and moderate income residents. There are many places for people to gather, such as restaurants, bars, grocery stores, coffee shops, as well as gardens. The area was a vacant lot surrounded by rundown buildings. Moreover, it was not considered a safe place to be before the garden was developed.
1.3 History of the initiative How did the project/initiative start? Who took the initiative? Why? Can you describe a timeline of events, highlighting success and failure aspects, major milestones? How far can you go back? How did this initiative mature? How did it turn to be a real enterprise? (registered, formalized etc.) Did it receive public or private support of any kind? Did it help change the public or policy structure? The 9th street community garden was started in 1979 by Augustine Garcia, who had close ties to the land as a boy in Puerto Rico. In the beginning of the garden, Garcia was fined for trespassing because the lot was owned by the City of New York. At the time, someone introduced Garcia to Olean Fore, a Loisiada community activist who started developing the “All People’s Garden” on East 3rd street. Olean Fore’s garden became a good precedent for the development of the 9th street community garden since the “All People’s Garden” was sponsored by the Council of the Environment of NYC and the GreenThumb program. After the 9th street community garden was developed in the late 1970s, it was a trend that a number of vacant lots were transforming into community gardens and neighborhood resources. Currently, the garden is one of the largest in New York City, having expanded to encompass one acre. Since the community garden has a bigger space compared to other community gardens in New York, each member has the opportunity to own a bigger private space for growing and planting their crops. The garden has a stage, barbeque area, sitting area, fish pond, grape arbor, gazebo, children’s play area, etc, and they also host many well-attended events. Daycare centers and local school groups bring their classes to learn about gardening. The garden also has a beehive, which is maintained by a local bee keeper who sells the honey at the union square farmer’s market. These benefits allow more people to participate, become members, and work at the garden. Interaction within the neighborhood and involvement with the school and associations related to the garden creates a healthier environment, enabling the garden to mature. The community garden is also devoted to community action and increasing environmental awareness through city gardening.* 1.4 Main actors Who are the users of this initiative? Who are the promoters of this initiative? Is there a difference between users and promoters or are they basically the same? Describe users and promoters lifestyles? Do the users work as a group or groups? Is there a network of related organizations and/or individuals? Do they have any form of connection or exchange with other similar initiatives? Was the group inspired by other examples? Do you know counter examples, (of service ideas that did not take-off), cases that went wrong? The users are mostly neighborhood seniors, immigrants, and the people who prefer an environmentally friendly lifestyle. They work individually as well as in groups to maintain the garden. In this particular garden, users and promoters are usually one in the same. The garden is sponsored by members who pay $15 a year for a membership. The members meet every 2nd Saturday. The kids, as one of the users of the garden, come from an elementary school. Young adults from the police station near the garden use the garden in positive, beneficial, and educating ways. In spite of its positive influence on the community, a number of gardens were destroyed soon after the GreenThumb was transferred from the Department of Parks and Recreation to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. This change was to sell city-owned property, including the community gardens, and build low-income housing on the site. El Jardin de la Esperanza (Garden of Hope) on East 7th Street, between Avenues B and C, was destroyed during that time.
1.5. Technologies What are the technologies that the group uses? How are they used in system? The 9th street community garden used technologies such as a composting area , rainwater harvesting system , and a water pipe system . Since the garden seeks to use an environmental friendly composting alternative to chemical fertilizers, they have a composting area. The rainwater harvesting system conserves water and redirects storm water runoff by catching and holding rainwater for later use. In order to care for the entire garden area, the garden employs a water pipe system, which does not require a complex installation and can be moved as needed to water. 1.6. Communication What communication materials do the group have? (e.g. website, brochures, postcards, etc). What is the main purpose of these materials? e.g. to keep participants updated about activities (internal communication) or to get more participants (external communication)? Does the group want to have more participants? The garden uses MySpace to connect members and visitors, and a sign-in book is located at the entrance of the garden. The members update recent news, current activities, events, pictures, and videos on MySpace. The main purpose for this is efficient internal and external communication. Through MySpace, members can reach out to the community as well as people from all over the world who live near or have visited the garden. Also, garden members are required to attend a meeting every 2nd Saturday of the month to discuss issues related to the garden.
1.7. Perspective for the future What are the perspective/objectives of the group for the next 3-5 years? What are some of the success factors and possible risks in the short medium and long term? The community garden's success factors are its location and size. Unlike other gardens, the 9th street garden is more accessible to people, since the garden is located on the corner of the 9th street and Avenue C. Moreover, the garden has more spaces for people to plant. However, this garden has possible risks, such as a lack of interest from people. Although the garden is well planned and developed, there are not enough people engaged in garden activities. The objectives of the garden are to gain more community involvement, to continually grow more successful crops, and to encourage more people to participate as a member of the garden. 1.8. Problems and opportunities Are there any specific issues/problems/barriers that pose threats to the initiative? Are there any main areas of concern among the participants (leaders and users alike)? Are there any opportunities that could be explored (that are currently not explored)? During the observation of the garden, we noticed that only a few people seemed relaxed, although the size of the garden is quite large and they provide many chairs and benches for sitting. In order to encourage more neighbors to become interested in the garden, the issue, which the members are concerned about, is making people feel more comfortable at the garden. We expect the community garden to encourage local consultation, participation, and greening of the city. By developing their plan to support action to promote environmental and civic responsibility, the garden can also help people recognize environmental awareness.
1.9. Indications of other social innovation Do the users participate in other entrepreneurial endeavors? Do they form small initiatives on their own? Are members involved in other “sustainable” services within the community? (Ex. Food Co-op, carpooling, community gardens, etc)? Do you see evidence of wider networks that these users contribute to? The users do not participate in any other organizations. Usually, the members of the garden plant and raise vegetables for personal use and self-satisfaction. 1.10. References Website of the initiative Interviewee name and contact information (email, address, phone number) Other references (websites, articles, other people we should talk to) Interviewee Susie 212-228-7880 Aida Wendy Rode Susan Underwood Katline *Main website: http://www.myspace.com/9ccommunitygarden Creative communities-people inventing sustainable ways of living Author-Anna Meroni www.sustainable-everyday.net
Quantitative Data Exercise How many members does the initiative have? How many are very active in the initiative? How does individual spaces compare with shared/group spaces? How many members are involved in other community-based services? (Food Co-op, activist orgs, clothes swapping, bike sharing, etc.) What is the size of the initiative in square footage? The size of the 9th street community garden is about one acre, 4046.8 m2. The garden is essentially composed of more individual spaces and a few group spaces. The garden has 25 members and each member has their own space, 10”x10”. They grow various flowers and plants. In the spring , they have 15 different flowers and trees: Lilac, wisteria, Solomon’s seal, lily of the valley, magnolia, peach trees, pear trees, catalpa trees, roses, clematis, peony, azalea, and many daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. In the summer , 9 different kinds of flowers and trees are grown: Sunflowers, hosta, Asiatic lily, lavender, hydrangea, rose of Sharon, daylily, butterfly bush, and Echinacea. In the fall , 5 different kinds of flowers and trees are grown: Toad lily, black-eyed Susan, chrysanthemum, autumn joy, and morning glory. In the winter , there is nothing but the red berries of hollies and yew, until late winter, when the hellebore (Lenten rose) begins to bloom. Other trees include; River birches, paper birches, junipers, yew, dawn redwood, and Atlas cedar. They also grow tomatoes, collards, beans, peas, cucumbers, and peppers.
Part 2: Pictures & film
Please take close-up detailed photos due to the winter conditions of gardens (ex. Buds, small greenery, tools, gathering spaces, colorful areas)
Photos may ONLY be taken with a high megapixel digital camera (no iphone photos or low resolution photos)
Choose highest picture quality setting that camera allows
Always ASK permission before taking photos or footage of people and/or spaces
See Release Form on the final page of this document. You MUST have Release Form(s) signed by the photo/footage subject.
Photo checklist 1.Context 1.1 The general context (e.g. landscape, urban area, etc) 1.2 The close context (e.g. the neighbourhood, etc) 1.3 The place from outside (e.g. building, house, etc) 1.4 The entrance (e.g. signage, access door or gate, etc) 1.5 The place from inside (e.g. dedicated room, private places, gazebo, pond, planting areas, recreational areas, etc) 2. Participant 2.1 Two to three typical users (show them in different situations, e.g. portrait/standing, in-action, etc) 2.2 The organiser/provider (portrait/standing, in-action, etc) 2.3 Show something characteristic of the user’s motivation to participate? 2.4 Show the key participants in the service/organization (e.g. leaders, gatekeepers, organizers, connectors, innovators, etc) 3. Material Artifacts 3.1 Show communication materials of the organization (leaflets, signage, etc) 3.2 Could you show essential objects that users interact with, or that provide key moments in the service? 3.3 Could you show evidence of entrepreneurial work by users or providers? Show intangible/tangible innovations created by users or providers. 4. Benefits 4.1 Could you show participant benefits? organiser benefits? collective benefits? environmental benefits? economical benefits? 5. Perspectives for the future 5.1 Could you show the future perspectives of the solution?
Please take footage of the following:
The person/people you are interviewing. Ask them to introduce themselves, their role in the organization, and a brief description of the organization (30 sec)
A brief history of the organization (15-30 sec)
A typical activity taking place in the space including participants of the organization (30 sec-1 min)
Participants of the organization interacting with each other (30 sec)
Participants of the organization interacting with the space/props/objects (30 sec)
General Release It is hereby agreed by and between the parties that this document shall constitute a general release authorizing Parsons The New School to use the photographs, statements and video of the undersigned subject in perpetuity, without any compensation. It is also understood that the photographs, statements and/or videos are to be, and may be, used by Parsons for photographic displays, exhibits, on institution’s website, and the like, or for inclusion in any brochures, advertisements, newspapers, newsletters or any similar activities including print, television or electronic media, at the discretion of Parsons The New School. It is further understood by and between both parties to this agreement that the undersigned subject is not to be compensated for the use of said materials by Parsons The New School. The execution of this document constitutes a waiver of any rights to compensation now or in the future. It is further understood by and between both parties to this agreement that this written document constitutes the sum total of all discussions, negotiations and agreements had with respect to this release, and that this document, when executed, represents the entire agreement and understanding between the parties; any agreement or understanding not contained in this document is specifically and categorically denied. Date: Subject Witness