Redeeming Urban Green Spaces
The New York Times reports the milestone reached by a non-profit group committed to rescuing abandoned lots in Brooklyn. 596 Acres, named after an initial count of Brooklyn’s neglected land lots, celebrated its first anniversary recently.
The group’s aim is to transform unused city-owned land in Brooklyn through motivating neighborhood residents to ‘adopt’ them as urban green spaces. The organization put up an online map of the plots and later developed a mobile app (which won a $4,000 award from the Big Apps contest for being the best in green apps). 596 Acres’ mobile app provides information about the area’s neglected land including the names and contact numbers of agencies who own then. Groups or individuals who are interested in adopting a nearby unused lot are given licenses and even grants for their transformation projects. The group is now expanding its reach beyond Brooklyn, and into Manhattan and Queens.
596 Acres is onto a good thing. By matching up community clusters to identified neglected lots, they are promoting a sustainable approach to an almost legendary problem of urbanscapes.
If not for people like 596 Acres who take the initiative to have a better vision for orphaned urban spaces, think of what career paths these abandoned lots could be on:
Trash Pits – Abandoned lots seem to act like magnets for trash and debris. All it takes is for the first person to cast a piece of visible garbage, and in a very short time the abandoned lot will be a rich ground of mixed trash. This includes decomposing food waste, which might attract flies, rats, and cockroaches. Who hasn’t seen a telltale cloud of flies and insects hovering over one of the many abandoned lots in cities? Instead, these abandoned urban spaces are being cleaned and converted into spaces for dog runs, meeting spaces, and outdoor movie theaters.
Rock Quarries – Neglected land lots also tend to look like rock quarries at times. Heaps of rubble, broken pieces of concrete, and unused building material pile up in amazing quantities in some neglected lots, where half-finished buildings stay as neighborhood eyesores year after year. Groups like 596 Acres and others transform these quasi-rock quarries into performance spaces, playgrounds, art galleries, and venue for film screenings.
Mosquito Breeding Grounds – Mosquitoes love to breed in places like unused lots where rainwater accumulates in stagnant pools. If left unchecked, these could be fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other harmful pests that infest urban areas. Those with the initiative take hold of these places and turn them into green farms, community gardens, and vegetable patches.
Because cities and urban centers continually develop to accommodate growing populations and industries, there will always be some patches of land that will be compromised. Or at the worst, abandoned and left unused. Yet they hold the same potential as do other valuable land areas that are being better utilized in cities. All it takes is a different way to see them. What potential urban green space can be redeemed from their notorious career tracks in your city today?
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