Forsyth[1] 2


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Forsyth[1] 2

  1. 1. Reporters’ book A guide for design- based ethnographic research Forsyth Conservatory BY CARRIE DENNIS, KIM TAS, ALEXANDRIA SALKED, AND JESSICA JAIMES Monday, May 10, 2010
  2. 2. Part 1: Interview Monday, May 10, 2010
  3. 3. 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? Forsyth Community Garden aims to promote community participation and the practice of sustainable living. This service idea benefits the entire neighborhood: from children to senior citizens. The garden promotes a Kids for Green program that includes storytelling, movie events, field trips, and environmental education. The garden also offers the Golden Age Center for senior citizens, a vendors market, playgrounds for kids, and a newly established soccer turf. The park has also created specific days to celebrate specific groups of people or ideas in the park including Clean-Up Day and Kid’s Day. The area supports a recreational area for local senior citizens and families. The garden requires the assistance of two volunteers to open and close the park on the three days a week that it is open to the public during the permitted hours; Thursday 5:00pm-7:00pm, Saturday 12:00am-4:00pm, and Sunday 12:00am-4:00pm. Prostitution and drugs are the two main concerns threatening the existence of the community garden. As a sanctuary of peace and togetherness, the illegal activities presented in the form of drugs and prostitution are diminishing the quality and safety that exists at the Forsyth Garden. . 1.2 Context What is this neighborhood like? How was it before this new solution took place? Previously, the neighborhood was drug-infested, rundown, and flowerless. It was considered a dangerous neighborhood due to the amount of drug-use and prostitution. However, overtime the neighborhood has greatly improved, The residual negativity linked to the illicit acts continue to diminish as the community support strengthens and the awareness of the positive outcomes of the garden are promoted instigating people to volunteer. It is now a safe place for children, families and parents to feel comfortable letting their kids play within the gardens gates. The neighborhood residents are diverse races and ages. Monday, May 10, 2010
  4. 4. 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? Anna Magenta was the original founder of the Forsyth Garden back in the Fall of 1993. As a new resident f the area, magenta was inspired to create a community that revolved around fellowship and sustainable living and determined to eliminate the brutal activities related to drugs and prostitution that were occurring in the park., Magenta took the initiative to make a change in the community by transforming the structure and context of the parks condition during the time and bringing it to a new level where the playground was not a site for crack exchange, but a place where children could play in a safe and protected environment. The motivation behind Magenta’s desire to transform the space can be attribute to her love for children and her dream of building a space that would hopefully expand children's horizons and creativity. She was also interested in establishing an area of clean and organized space that would uplift the conditions of the community surrounding. In the beginning of the transformation process, Magenta was receiving support from the Council on Environment and Operation Green Thumb to develop fences around the space that would protect the fragile space where trees, plants, and flowers were growing. Garden hours were imposed in the hopes of keeping illegal activities away and reducing the presence of the homeless in the area. Magenta faced severe opposition from people who were formerly dealing drugs and engaging in acts of prostitution in the park space because they no longer had a spot to perform their business, therefore they were losing sales. The situation escalated to a level of severity where Magenta was receiving death threats and even facing situations of violence because people performing illicit acts were threatened by her presence and authority in the area. This did not deteriorate the strength and motivation of magenta,instead it propelled her to a new level of determination. Just 2 years after the garden was started, it became incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under the name of Forsyth Garden Conservancy, Incorporated. This was a major step for the garden and would ensure improvement due to the fact that they were eligible to receive funding that would covers costs to revamp the playground and establish fencing so that the plants and wildlife would be protected when the garden was closed. These new improvements to the garden immediately gained positive recognition from family’s and members of the community, but for those whose home and office the park use to serve as, they rebelled by violating the newly established fences and vegetation. Although these acts of revolt were discouraging, Magenta continued to advance the park forward with the construction of a bird sanctuary for the Hua Mei Bird Club. This was a major attraction, gathering many people from the community and beyond to come and see the birds sing. In 1996, the expansion of the garden was complete with two new gardens, the Artemisa Garden and the Tai Chi Garden. Magenta also overcame the challenge presented by the Roosevelt Park Community Coalition that wanted to eliminate a section of the playground in order to accommodate a dog run, fortunately Magenta prevailed and the playground remained intact. Magenta was also victorious in the fight against the privatization of the park and imposition of a street vendors market in the park. Magenta was successful in establishing a lush environment that sustained the existence of plants and wildlife, adding more than 30 trees, 400 shrubs, and 2000 bulbs to the area. After all of the effort and time Magenta dedicated to the transformation process of the garden, the NYC Parks Department claimed ownership and control over the garden in 1997. They are currently in ownership of the property and have made alterations to the efforts of Magenta, but they continue to enhance the neighborhood with their implementation of groups and activities that promote the sustainability and maintenance of the garden. Monday, May 10, 2010
  5. 5. 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 garden is accessible to the public Thursday evenings and weekends between 12 and 4. Gardeners with plots own their own keys and can access the garden as desired. The users range throughout all generations, young and old (wheelchair accessible), rich and poor. The users and promoters of the garden are virtually the same, for they are interrelated in the sense that the people who use the garden also advocate the positive outcomes that develop as a result of its existence. It is through word-pf-mouth advertising that the garden gains volunteers to help maintain its existence. The lifestyle of the users and promoters vary depending on their age, background, and social position. It is common among the senior crowd for members to be retired, spending a majority of their time tending to the garden where as the younger members are more distracted by their careers and social agendas that they have less time during the week and more time on weekend afternoons to spend at the garden. The garden is connected with other gardens around the city, for they all exchange food and providde eachother with helpful advice n the maintenance process of the garden. 5 Monday, May 10, 2010
  6. 6. 1.5. Technologies What are the technologies that the group uses? How are they used in system? The garden does not rely on high-technologies. Instead, it depends on the traditional planting techniques. 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 has a website to inform the public about its history, events, and goals. The website is also used to reach out to organizations in the community (i.e., Whole Foods, Starbucks). The gardeners meet once a month with the steering committee to discuss issues, futures events (such as It’s My Park Day), and how they can improve. Monday, May 10, 2010
  7. 7. 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 garden strives for an increased number of volunteers and gardeners as well as increased public access hours. Volunteers have been busy building boxes for vegetable growing (it is illegal to grow them in the ground). An effort-in-progress is building a new chicken coop for their popular chickens. The chickens attract many children and families to the garden. The ultimate goal f the volunteers who participate in the maintenance of the garden hope to completely eliminate the presence of drugs and prostitution, provide the community with a sanctuary that promotes fellowship, and create a more sustainable environment through the form of green living practices. The garden does face the risk of being reclaimed by the city and turned into space for residential or commercial use. With the limited amount of space in the city threatening the existence of the garden, people are fighting to ensure the use of the space is beneficial to more than just the community, but also the world beyond. 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)? One of the main issues was untrustworthy and uncommitted gardeners and volunteers. Formerly, keys were easily handed out to volunteers and many took advantage of this accessibility and were never seen again. This has lead to strategy of earning a key through increased volunteer time with the Green Team and increased commitment to the garden. Another threat posed to the garden is the fact that restaurants and cafes, such as Starbucks, are trying to open within the community gardens of the Lower East Side. Funding is a continuous issue with community gardens. Forsyth gets most of its funding through grants. An profit opportunity that may be missed is the ability to sell their flowers and vegetables within the community. The garden has ties with some outside farmers which come in and sell their products. This service could be potentially increased and advertised to the community (not just the garden volunteers) and would draw more people to the garden and could make the community more environmentally aware. Monday, May 10, 2010
  8. 8. 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 garden does not sell what they grow. They strive to trade seeds, plants, and flowers with other gardens in New York City. Forsyth Garden has an abundance of bamboo that is in great demand explaining their popularity amongst the graden tradng groups. This approach to the supply of food diminshes living costs, enabling members of the community to live a higher quality of life. The sustainable approach to living also diminishes waste from the unnecessary amount of packaging involved in store-bought food. 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) Website: Interviewees: Bob Humber (head gardner, phone number: 646-620-5260) Claudia Berkal (neighborhood resident, information private) Anna Magenta (Founder of the Garden, phone number: 212.966.9351) Monday, May 10, 2010
  9. 9. 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 garden consists of 30 gardeners who are all very dedicated to the initisative. Each of the members are also juggling careers and social agendas that they have to schedule the time they spend at the garden around. Any spare time that the members do get, they try and spend at the garden to maintain its appearance and tend to the growth of the wildlife. Many of the members of the garden expand their community involvement and sustainable forms of living beyond just the confines of the garden, by participating in clothes swapping, car-pooling, and food environmental organizations around the city. The individual spaces of the garden are more personalized and protected as opposed to the shared space that accommodates the wants and needs of many people which are larger and designed in amore general format. The park is owned by the Parks Department, therefore it is protected and cannot be threatened by the government. The size of the initiative is 2400 square feet of lush green space juxtaposed against the pavement and cement of the buildings and streets surrounding it. Monday, May 10, 2010
  10. 10. Part 2: Pictures & film Monday, May 10, 2010
  11. 11. Photo Instructions 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. Monday, May 10, 2010
  12. 12. 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? Monday, May 10, 2010
  13. 13. Film guidelines 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) Monday, May 10, 2010
  14. 14. 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 Monday, May 10, 2010