NYPL Labs Launches Space/Time Directory

“The New York Public Library is planning a major civic initiative aimed at turning historical maps and other geographic sources into a digital time-travel service for New York City.

“The NYC Space/Time Directory will make urban history accessible through the kinds of interactive, location-aware tools used to navigate modern cityscapes. It will provide a way for scholars, students, and enthusiasts to explore New York City across time periods, and to add their own knowledge and expertise.”

Visit Space/Time at NYPL Labs

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DNA Info Reports: De Blasio’s Affordable Housing Plan Dould Destroy 15 Community Gardens

MANHATTAN — At least 15 community gardens on city-owned property could be bulldozed to make way for new buildings under the de Blasio administration’s affordable housing plan, community advocates said. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development published a list this week of city-owned sites that housing developers can apply to build on, shocking those who tend to and enjoy the green spaces.

Read more at DNA Info

Two Community Gardens Named in Curbed’s “Biggest Battles” of 2014

From Curbed: The Ten Biggest Battles Waged in NYC This Year

3) Community Gardens: Several community gardens throughout the city were threatened by development this year, often in a situation wherein a formerly-absent landowner would show up to assert their claim on the property whilst destroying, at least in spirit, the beloved community space. The Lower East Side’s Siempre Verde Garden was defended from new development by the community, Crown Heights’ Roger That Garden is trying to scrape together funds to buy the property back from a soulless developer, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens’ Maple Street Community Garden is facing adversity from its ostensible owners that actually can’t prove their claim to the land.

NYC Blooms With OpenStreetMap

Blogger and OpenStreetMap enthusiast Serge Wroclawski writes, “A community mapping project in New York is showing how OpenStreetMap can not only show how mapping can help people navigate, it can shape how people perceive their city.”

OpenStreetMap and GrowNYC collaborated in a meetup with Eric Brelsford, a NYC Mapper and founder of 596 Acres, a non-profit dedicated to land use and advocacy issues in New York City and Mara Gittleman from the NYC Community Garden Coalition, an activist organization working to protect community gardens in the city.

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Remediating Toxins in Community Garden Plots

Today’s NY Post has an article about toxic lead levels in community gardens. Some important things to remember when reading reporting like this:

First, they are describing a report on seven PLOTS tested. Five of these seven plots had higher than acceptable levels of lead in the soil samples. Although the author makes a big deal about submitting a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to obtain the test results, he does not provide a link to or even the title of the report.

He references another report done by the state a year ago in which 55 gardens were tested (out of 600 citywide), and about half were found to have higher than federally recommended levels of lead and 70% had some type of toxins. This is certainly a problem, but the reasons these gardens were selected and the methodology used is not explained nor is there a link or full citation of the report.

All that said, I am sure gardeners are aware that root vegetables will have higher levels of any toxins than vegetables that grow above the soil. Also, there are certain plants, known as “phytoremidiators,” that draw toxins out of the soil which may be of interest, including sunflowers, mustard greens, and pennycress.

Details on exactly where the contaminated gardens are, what the city is doing to help gardens meet safe soil health guidelines as well as tips on doing your own testing and remediation would have made for a better and more informative article.

So before you read a sensational piece of news reporting (and why doesn’t the NY Post let me comment, I wonder?), keep these things in perspective and have a safe garden season.

http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/pae/botany/botany_map/articles/article_10.html

http://farmersalmanac.com/home-garden/2012/06/11/sunflowers-to-the-rescue/

http://nepis.epa.gov/Adobe/PDF/9100FZE1.PDF

http://nypost.com/2014/11/16/toxic-veggies-found-in-nycs-community-gardens/

Fast Company: Mapping New York’s Vacant Lots to Make a More Vibrant City

Fast Company, November 10, 2014: reviews an online Tool, Urban Reviewer, created by 596 acres to view the history of urban renewal plans in New York City. Local community groups hope to use the tool to identify lots to convert to community gardens, playgrounds, and other uses.

596 Acres is a grassroots community land access nonprofit.

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Read more at http://www.fastcoexist.com/3038089/mapping-new-yorks-vacant-lots-to-use-them-to-create-a-more-vibrant-city

Six Ways to Grow Back after Hurricane Sandy

In an article in the Huffington Post, dated October 28, 2014, author, Frances Beinecke, NRDC President offers six ways New York cN BCE back after Supersorm Sandy, including:

3. Expand the Region’s Green Infrastructure
Green roofs, roadside plantings, porous pavement, and sidewalk gardens have been proven to reduce flooding. They absorb rainwater before it swamps the streets and sewage systems. They also add green space to neighborhoods and enhance property values. New York City just announced it is building 2000 sidewalk gardens to aid in storm water capture. And New York State has taken steps to fund green infrastructure projects. Yet officials could do so much more–from using State Revolving Funds for large-scale green projects in flood zones to strengthening storm water management standards.

Read the whole article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frances-beinecke/superstorm-sandy-two-year_b_6064992.html.