JOANA CHAN, BRYCE DUBOIS & KEITH TIDBALL
AAG PRESENTATION - APRIL 9, 2014
New York City Community Gardens
Cultivating Loca...
Community Gardens
Photo: Campos Community Garden, Map: Five Borough Farm
Community gardens are
•Spaces where groups of peo...
Community Gardens History
Photo by Donald Loggins
Poster: National Archives
Communal gardens served as buffers
during time...
NYC Hurricane Sandy
Photo: Boardwalk Garden (T), Campos Garden (B)
Map adapted from Frantz (2012)
Research Question
What role have community gardens played in the
resilience and recovery of New York City’s coastal
“red z...
Literature
Review
• Social-ecological Resilience
• Capacity to buffer disturbances, renew &
reorganize in response to chan...
Case Study Sites
Map adapted from Keefe, Melendez & Ma (2012)
5 Coastal Community Gardens
• Campos Community Garden
(Lower...
Qualitative Methods
Photo: Boardwalk Community Garden
Data Collection:
April 2013- February 2014
• Key Informant Interview...
Neighborhood Convening Healing Circles
“Look at the 50 people eating
homemade chili over an open fire
two days after one o...
Relief Distribution Sites Art & Memorialization
 Food, clothing, water
 Solar electricity
Community Gardens as
Adaptive,...
Greening to “Normal” Garden Adaptations
Community Gardening to
Connect & Adapt with Nature
Photo: Campos Community Garden(...
Social Connectivity
Civic engagement &
stewardship
Community Gardens as
Supportive Communities of Practice
Photo: Campos C...
Community Gardens as
Sources of Local Resilience Post-Sandy
Community gardens catalyzing
the resilience, recovery, regrowt...
Policy Implications
•SIRR’ s resilience - managing for status quo
• No civic stewardship in report
•Importance of managing...
Acknowledgements & More!
http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/04/07/the-
sky-is-the-limit-for-urban-agriculture-or-is-it-...
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New York City Community Gardens Cultivating Local Resilience Post-Sandy

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Ever since Superstorm Sandy devastated coastal New York City in 2012, the topic of resilience has been at the forefront of the city's disaster planning and policy response. We recognize community gardens as imbued with meaning and as relevant community spaces that play a role in the resilience and recovery of the community gardeners that use these spaces and the neighborhoods where they are found. Because Sandy was mostly a storm surge event, this project explores the role of community gardens in coastal "red zones" of New York City post-Sandy.

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  • Community gardens are pieces of land gardened by a group of people where edible and/or ornamental plants are cultivated (Holland 2004). From a tiny inner-city vacant lot reclaimed with roses, barbeque picnics and chess-playing, to a several acre sub-divided suburban lot where members grow herbs and vegetables for subsistence and for market, community gardens take a wide variety of forms. However, whether they are open spaces cared for by a group of volunteer members as a whole, or a system of individual or family plots which share common resources like tools and water, all community gardens involve the active participation and stewardship of local residents (Okvat and Zautra 2011). The over 600 community gardens and over 20,000 gardeners in New York City compose one of the most active community garden programs in the US (Greenthumb.org).
  • In the US, urban communal gardens have long been used as “supportive institutions” to buffer and create opportunities for coping during times of social, economic and environmental crises (Bassett 1979:2). Like other US cities, New York City experienced waves of support for communal garden projects over the past century. During the Great Depression, unemployed and impoverished New York City residents grew their own food in nearly 5000 gardens on 700 acres of city land through a Work Projects Administration (WPA) program (Hynes, 1996). Communal garden projects that were started in New York City during the urban decline of the late 1960s and 1970s are often cited as the models of contemporary community gardens as they are now known (Saldivar-Tanaka and Krasny 2004). From the 1970s to 1980s, communal gardens blossomed throughout the city, especially in poorer neighborhoods like Harlem and the Lower East Side where buildings were subjected to abandonment, arson and demolition (von Hassell 2002). In the wake of this neglect, community members reclaimed these rubble-filled lots with thriving gardens. By 1998, there were over 1,900 community gardens gardened by over 14,000 community gardeners in New York City (von Hassell 2002).
  • Ever since Superstorm Sandy devastated coastal New York City in 2012, the topic of resilience has been at the forefront of the city's disaster planning and policy response. We recognize community gardens as imbued with meaning and as relevant community spaces that play a role in the resilience and recovery of the community gardeners that use these spaces and the neighborhoods where they are found. Because Sandy was mostly a storm surge event, this project explores the role of community gardens in coastal "red zones" of New York City post-Sandy.
  • Red zones-useTidball and Krasny’s definition: “settings (spatial or temporal) that are characterized as intense, recently dangerous or in post-disaster situations” We constructed our question to acknowledge the importance of specifying “resilience of what to what” based on Steve Carpenter et al (2001)’s paper which encourages the research community to go beyond resilience as a metaphor towards resliiencea concept that can begin to be operationalized.
  • FRAMEWORK: We couch this work in a social-ecological systems interpretation of community gardens. The definition of resilience we use is thus an SES definition. which recognizes them as civic ecology practices. These self-organized stewardship initiatives are composed of communities of people actively involved in the appreciation, stewardship, and management of living elements of this SES, both through individual and social learning. In addition, these spaces provide opportunities for community development and community organizing. Community gardens also play a role in post-disaster recovery by offering spaces for the expression of what Tidball has termed, Urgent Biophilia- along with providing opportunities for people to restore a loved place, a location to mourn the loss of loved ones, as a space for symbolic gestures of resilience or recovery, and as spaces to support counter-narratives. (Restorative Topophilia,Memorialization, Symbols/Rituals, Discourse of Defiance.)Finally, Okvat and Zautra (2013) have suggested that community gardening can provide psychological and community benefits in disaster situations.   While there has been literature on the role of community gardens in contributing to properties of general resilience (Bendt et al. 2013, Krasny and Tidball 2012, Okvat and Zautra 2013, Saldivar-Tanaka and Krasny 2004), there are significantly less written on the role of community gardens in terms of specific resilience to disasters and natural disasters in particular (Tidball and Krasny 2014).
  • Purposively sampled gardens that had been impacted by sandy via flooding
  • This presentation is informed by ethnographic fieldwork conducted from April 2013 to February 2014. We took the initial cases and continued using ethnographic methods such as participant observation, exploratory and key-informant interviews (with garden leaders or organizers) and archival research (of texts written by and about these gardens post-Sandy), to explore these five community garden cases. The data analysis that we will present to you today represents thematic analysis where our data analysis and themes were explored concurrently. Interviews were coded separately- these themes were defined and refined through constant comparison with the findings gathered from our selective sampling data collection methodology. The resulting themes draw from literature and theory on social-ecological systems resilience, and greening in the red zone, especially Okvat & Zautra (2014).
  • Red Zone CG as safe community spacesThe combination of public accessibility and the personalized nature of community gardens contributed to the function of these spaces as local havens during the distress and disorder immediately following the storm. As safe community spaces, community gardens were sites for neighborhood convening, news-sharing and communal cooking. In at least one garden in the Rockaways, therapeutic healing circles were facilitated for the gardeners and their neighbors.
  • The unplanned, adaptable nature of the gardens allowed for flexible use and appropriation of the spaces for community needssuch as staging grounds and distribution sites for food, clothing and solar- generated electricity. As time progressed, these coastal community gardens became prime sites for engaging residents in volunteer efforts and civic stewardship. Community gardens also served as ideal spaces for art and memorialization, where residents were able to (re)create their narratives of place through works of beauty, meaning and defiance.
  • The intimate connection with nature that gardeners had developed through their gardening practice helped some to accept Sandy as an inevitable force of nature, and to move forward in recovery and in the implementation of infrastructural garden adaptations, such as preemptively pruning vulnerable trees and installing raised beds made of stronger, longer lasting materials, to prepare themselves and their neighborhood for future storms.
  • CG as supportive communities of practiceOne key element that distinguished the function of community gardens from other open spaces like parking lots and parks Post-Sandy, was the fact that they were community-managed spaces with their own communities of practice. For example, in Campos Community Garden in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, gardeners mobilized after the storm to help ensure the well-being of local residents, some of whom were stranded without electricity, food or water.As time progressed, these coastal community gardens became prime sites for engaging residents in volunteer efforts and civic stewardship. Connect to different groups?
  • CG have the capacity to support resilience in terms of rebuilding and transforming destruction from Sandy and also adapting to future socio-ecological challenges as multifunctional social-ecological spaces which contain strong, supportive communities of practice. Unlike previous socio-economic disturbances, food provision, for example, was not a major community garden function in Sandy “red-zones” because they had been flooded with water, sand, debris and sewage. Instead, our initial analyses show that community gardening Post-Sandy is a practice of therapeutic civic greening, enhancing both individual and community resilience. Community garden spaces in Post Sandy red zones have served as important flexible, multi-functional community spaces both immediately after the storm and long-term.
  • Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. Policy can help to support and enhance the benefits provided by community gardens. One way to do this is to strengthen government support through formalized urban agricultural policy which clearly establishes tenure for community gardens. Govt can leverage resources and information to support emergent community greening practices rather than enforce/mandate change to build natural and human/social capital- empowering for residents to build place based identity rather than passively watching projects installed for their use. Since, community gardens are an integral part of the social-ecological fabric of many NYC neighborhoods, it would make sense to integrate community garden considerations into municipal policy and planning, specifically in terms of developing a municipal composting program and distributing compost and soil to community gardens, and incorporating community gardens into the repertoire of neighborhood planning. Community gardens can also benefit from greater financial, educational and informational support from the city regarding resources and development. Additionally, encourage incorporating community gardeners into local policy-making conversations and considerations.Source: Five Borough Farm. 2014. Five Borough Farm website. http://www.fiveboroughfarm.org
  • New York City Community Gardens Cultivating Local Resilience Post-Sandy

    1. 1. JOANA CHAN, BRYCE DUBOIS & KEITH TIDBALL AAG PRESENTATION - APRIL 9, 2014 New York City Community Gardens Cultivating Local Resilience Post-Sandy Photo: Hip Hop Community Garden
    2. 2. Community Gardens Photo: Campos Community Garden, Map: Five Borough Farm Community gardens are •Spaces where groups of people cultivate edible & ornamental plants •Diverse in form & composition •Community-driven stewardship NYC Community Gardens •Over 600 gardens
    3. 3. Community Gardens History Photo by Donald Loggins Poster: National Archives Communal gardens served as buffers during times of crisis (Bassett 1979) a. Great Depression: WPA Garden b. WWII: Victory Gardens c. Urban Decline of 1970s- Community Gardens
    4. 4. NYC Hurricane Sandy Photo: Boardwalk Garden (T), Campos Garden (B) Map adapted from Frantz (2012)
    5. 5. Research Question What role have community gardens played in the resilience and recovery of New York City’s coastal “red zone” communities after Hurricane Sandy?
    6. 6. Literature Review • Social-ecological Resilience • Capacity to buffer disturbances, renew & reorganize in response to change (Tidball & Krasny, 2014) • Factors for fostering resilience during change (Folke et al. 2002) • Learning to live with change & uncertainty • Nurturing diversity (biological & cultural) • Combining knowledge for learning • Creating opportunities for self-organization • Civic Ecology Practice o Self-organized stewardship initiatives (Krasny & Tidball, 2012) • Post-Disaster Greening o Social mechanisms of adaptation and transformation (Tidball, 2014) o Community gardening provides cognitive, emotional & community benefits (Okvat & Zautra, 2013)
    7. 7. Case Study Sites Map adapted from Keefe, Melendez & Ma (2012) 5 Coastal Community Gardens • Campos Community Garden (Lower East Side, Manhattan) • Boardwalk Community Garden (Coney Island, Brooklyn) • Hip Hop Community Garden (Arverne, Queens) • Beach 91st Garden (Rockaway Beach, Queens) • Smith Brothers Memorial Garden (Rockaway Beach, Queens)
    8. 8. Qualitative Methods Photo: Boardwalk Community Garden Data Collection: April 2013- February 2014 • Key Informant Interviews o n= 7 (4 women, 3 men) o transcripts • Participant Observation o garden visits (2- 4 visits/garden) o field notes & photos • Archival Research o documents & websites • Data Analysis o thematic analysis
    9. 9. Neighborhood Convening Healing Circles “Look at the 50 people eating homemade chili over an open fire two days after one of the most devastating hurricanes in the East Coast. ...standing around in our neighborhood when the National Guard can't even get through yet. ...that is the best defense we have against any fear. The best defense we have against looting, rioting, or any other kind of insecurity… And that is a direct result of the community garden. You know, being a hub for safety, security. A blanket of support between neighbors.” (Gardener, Beach 91st Street Community Garden) Community Gardens as Local Havens Photos: Beach 91st Street Community Garden)
    10. 10. Relief Distribution Sites Art & Memorialization  Food, clothing, water  Solar electricity Community Gardens as Adaptive, Open Community Spaces Photo: Sea-Song Memorial at Hip Hop GardenPhotos: Padre Plaza Garden (T), Solar Sandy Project (B)
    11. 11. Greening to “Normal” Garden Adaptations Community Gardening to Connect & Adapt with Nature Photo: Campos Community Garden(Gardener, B91St Garden) “...the garden has very much been a catharsis for [local residents]… and something that they're excited about- it's like some semblance of normalcy back in their lives.”
    12. 12. Social Connectivity Civic engagement & stewardship Community Gardens as Supportive Communities of Practice Photo: Campos Community GardenScreen capture: Campos Garden Facebook Page
    13. 13. Community Gardens as Sources of Local Resilience Post-Sandy Community gardens catalyzing the resilience, recovery, regrowth of individuals , neighborhoods & local SES Shorter-term: transformation, opportunities to empower, assist and reclaim environments, lives, sense of place and meaning Longer-term: adaptation, fostering natural, human, social, etc. capital, social- ecological diversity, learning, support networks Photo: Boardwalk Community Garden
    14. 14. Policy Implications •SIRR’ s resilience - managing for status quo • No civic stewardship in report •Importance of managing for change and flexibility •Recognize role of community capacity and environmental stewardship in catalyzing recovery •Support emergent community greening practices and spaces to build natural and human/social capital
    15. 15. Acknowledgements & More! http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/04/07/the- sky-is-the-limit-for-urban-agriculture-or-is-it-what- can-cities-hope-to-get-from-community-gardens-and- urban-agriculture/ - Community Gardeners from Boardwalk, Campos, Hip Hop, B 91st, Smith Brothers Memorial Gardens - Colleagues at NYC Urban Field Station

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