In this week's Newsletter: Community gardens vs. affordable housing, stormwater projects move forward across the boroughs, introducing Here Comes Solar NYC, and much more!
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The Tension Between Community Gardens and Affordable Housing

Community gardens are amazing neighborhood resources, allowing New Yorkers to work with plants and grow their own food (in raised beds with clean soil, of course). They also provide communities with much-needed shared community space for meetings, performances and celebrations; cleaner air, especially in neighborhoods that have very little public green space; and they help neighbors get to know each other across generational and cultural lines 

There are currently 600 community gardens located across the city, with the majority in formerly blighted neighborhoods like the Lower East Side, the South Bronx and Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. In the 1970s and 80s when many of the gardens were started, the city-owned vacant lots they stood on were considered virtually worthless. Now those lots are prized by developers, and are a key feature of Mayor De Blasio's ambitious affordable housing plan. And even though only 10% of HPD's vacant properties have gardens, 17 of those gardens have been put on a list that will be offered to developers.

According to the New York Times, it seems possible this was an oversight on the part of HPD. Certainly the 150 gardeners who protested at City Hall last week would like to see the gardens removed from the list and placed permanently under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department. Momentum is growing to create a special Community Garden District on the Lower East Side. And the Design Trust for Public Space just finished a survey to find out how productive community gardens actually are, and discovered that they produced more than 46,000 pounds of food since last May! So we think community gardens are here to stay, and the people who ultimately move into the affordable housing that will be built in these neighborhoods will be very glad they did.. 

Stormwater Mitigation Projects Are Ready to Go in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx

Sewer overflows are a real problem for NYC, and in some neighborhoods, they can cause dangerously unsanitary conditions when sewage backs up into houses and businesses. We've written before about the Bioswales project currently being piloted in Queens, but now the city's Department of Environmental Protection has announced six $3 million projects to absorb stormwater in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as part of their Green Infrastructure Grant program.

The projects are focused on keeping stormwater out of the watershed using native plant gardens, rooftop meadows and green roofs. At least two of the projects will feature plants that attract pollinators, including the Sunset Park project which will contain plantings of native blue lupine, a favorite of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. Maybe we'll see a few of them in Stuyvesant Cove Park this summer?

A Solar-Powered NYC? Here It Comes

Last month we told you about New York State's new, ambitious Shared Solar program. Today we want to invite you to check out Solar One's new community solar initiative Here Comes Solar NYC.

Here Comes Solar works with multifamily and single-to-four family houses to help spur solar development across the city. The Here Comes Solar network connects installers to groups of building owners who can aggregate their buying power so more solar ends up on more roofs, helping to get the solar industry off the ground in the city, clean up the environment and saving New Yorkers a lot of money on their electric bills.

So if you're interested in whether solar is suitable for your building, just fill out the brief questionnaire on the HCS homepage and you'll be on your way to a solar-powered future!

Upcoming Events at Solar 1

There are currently no upcoming events.
See you in the spring!

Other Events

Transition Neighborhoods Strategy Session
Friends Meeting House, 15 Rutherford Place, 15th Street bet 2nd & 3rd Aves, Manhattan, 7-9pm, free

Digital Being Installation by Taezoo Park: Open House
LES Ecology Center Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse, 469 President Street bet Nevins St & 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, 11am-8pm, free

Permaculture Design Certification with Andrew Faust, Lisa Depiano, Mark Krawczyk & Adriana Magaña
The Commons Brooklyn, 388 Atlantic Avenue bet Bond & Hoyt Sts, Brooklyn, 10am-5pm Saturdays & Sundays, $950

Energy Retrofits: Does Ignoring Green Building Upgrades Decrease Property Asset Values?
The Markle Foundation, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 16th Floor, bet 48th & 49th Sts, Manhattan, 9am-12pm, free
Space is limited and preference will be given to Agrion members. Please email if you'd like to attend.

Sustainability Practice Network 'De Blasio Administration: Freshman Year Report Card’ Panel Discussion
NYU Stern School of Business, Room KMC 1-100, 44 West 4th Street bet Mercer & Wooster Sts, Manhattan, 6-8pm, free 

Inwood's Changing Forest: Tree Inventory, Social and Ecological Assessment
Inwood Hill Park, meet at the Payson Education Center on Dyckman Street & Broadway, Manhattan, 6-7pm, free

Lighting the Nerve Center: The Related HQ Lighting Retrofit
Building Energy Exchange, 31 Chambers Street, Suite 609, bet Centre & Elk Sts, Manhattan, 9-10:30am, $10 general admission/$5 partner organizations

Made in Brooklyn: Food Waste to Biofuel
The Mohawk Group, 71 West 23rd Street, 18th Floor, bet Broadway & 6th Ave, 6-8pm, $10-15

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