Who Cleans the Park?

Last night:

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join for the launch event of John Krinsky and Maud Simonet’s new book Who Cleans the Park? Public Work and Urban Governance in New York City. Author John Krinsky will be present in conversation with Penny Lewis and Gianpaolo Baiocchi.


The book:

America’s public parks are in a golden age. Hundreds of millions of dollars—both public and private—fund urban jewels like Manhattan’s Central Park. Keeping the polish on landmark parks and in neighborhood playgrounds alike means that the trash must be picked up, benches painted, equipment tested, and leaves raked. Bringing this often-invisible work into view, however, raises profound questions for citizens of cities.

In Who Cleans the Park? John Krinsky and Maud Simonet explain that the work of maintaining parks has intersected with broader trends in welfare reform, civic engagement, criminal justice, and the rise of public-private partnerships. Welfare-to-work trainees, volunteers, unionized city workers (sometimes working outside their official job descriptions), staff of nonprofit park “conservancies,” and people sentenced to community service are just a few of the groups who routinely maintain parks. With public services no longer being provided primarily by public workers, Krinsky and Simonet argue, the nature of public work must be reevaluated. Based on four years of fieldwork in New York City, Who Cleans the Park? looks at the transformation of public parks from the ground up. Beginning with studying changes in the workplace, progressing through the public-private partnerships that help maintain the parks, and culminating in an investigation of a park’s contribution to urban real-estate values, the book unearths a new urban order based on nonprofit partnerships and a rhetoric of responsible citizenship, which at the same time promotes unpaid work, reinforces workers’ domination at the workplace, and increases the value of park-side property. Who Cleans the Park? asks difficult questions about who benefits from public work, ultimately forcing us to think anew about the way we govern ourselves, with implications well beyond the five boroughs.

John Krinsky is Associate Professor of Political Science at the City College of New York and the City University Graduate Center.

Gianpaolo Baiocchi is Associate Professor at NYU Gallatin, and Director of the Urban Democracy Lab at NYU.

Penny Lewis is Academic Director and Associate Professor at the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City College of New York.


From Chinese Progressive Association: Free citizenship Application Help, Protect from Identify Theft,  Community Health Centers

CB3 Health/Human Services Committee invites you to a

Panel Presentation/Discussion

Community Health Centers

Challenges and successes in serving health needs of

Chinatown & the Lower East Side

Featuring speakers from:

Ryan/Nena Community Health Center

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center

Roberto Clemente Health Center

Betances Health Center

Thursday, December 7, 2017

6:30 pm

Gouverneur Health Center (Auditorium)

227 Madison Street (between Clinton and Jefferson St)

For more information: 212-533-5300

Two Cities Aim to Curb the Privatization of Public Spaces

From Next City:

By Rachel Dovey November 27, 2017

“Following investigations in London and New York earlier this year, officials in both cities have announced legislation to regulate privately owned public spaces, or POPS….

… legislation that passed the New York City Council earlier this month aims to hold local landlords accountable for their POPS. The rules — part of a package authored by Council Member Ben Kallos — would require additional signage in all POPS areas detailing amenities and hours of operation, and include a website address where visitors could find out more information and register complaints.

Landlords who don’t comply could face fines of between $4,000 and $10,000.

That legislation comes seven months after NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer released a blistering audit, which found that of the 333 sites surveyed, 182 were not compliant with local laws.

Shortly after Kallos’ legislation passed the council, Stringer released the results of a second audit, which found that many sites were still violating existing laws. Stringer’s office zoomed in on 34 of the previous 182 — and found that 32 still weren’t up to code. Some of the supposedly public spaces were restricted by barricades or fences, some featured signs that read “for private use only,” and some gave priority to restaurant seating.

[In NYC] developers have received bonus space in exchange for building those …public spaces..

Kelsey E. Thomas wrote:“New Yorkers are literally getting cheated out of tens of millions of dollars in public space — and the city is willfully choosing to do nothing about it. Public resources are effectively being given away at the expense of all of us,” Stringer said in a statement at the time.

Fights to Preserve Ft. Greene Park and To Preserve Two Bowery Buildings

Op-Ed by Sandy Reiburn (longtime Fort Greene Resident and a member of Friends of Fort Greene Park) 

The De-Greening Of Fort Greene Park Leaves Its Friends Feeling Blue

“With its decision last week (11/21) to let the city’s Parks Department make major renovations to historic Fort Greene Park, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has apparently added yet another New York City icon to the vanishing city list.

…. the park will still be there, but it won’t be as leafy and green. It will be missing more than four dozen trees, lose the beloved grassy mounds created by landscape architect A. E. Bye, be robbed of swaths of grass which will be replaced by more concrete pavement – and denied some historical features that provide the essential character of this park. ..”


And From The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors:

“On the Lower East Side there are two almost 200-year-old Federal-style houses that need your help now. 

206 Bowery and 22 East Broadway had been deemed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as significant enough to be classified as “calendared”, which means placed in a protected category pending landmark designation. Unfortunately, the Commission never acted to designate and due to a law passed by the City Council, these rare survivors will lose their protected status unless the Commission acts to designate. 

Please click this link to SEND A LETTER to the Commission Chair supporting landmark designation:

These rare surviving Federal style houses represent the architecture style of the young American republic… These structures help give us a sense of historic place and time…

Federal era houses are being demolished all over the city at an alarming rate.

The Bowery has lost several of them, including those at 135 Bowery and at 35 Cooper Square.

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has been campaigning on behalf of the Federals for years.

Links to the descriptions of 206 Bowery and 22 East Broadway 


Town Hall for Downtown Community: World Trade Center Victim Compensation

Red Tailed Hawk Sighting in Sara Roosevelt Park

A M’Finda Kalunga Community Gardener posted this stunning picture (taken by Mary Hahn) in the Park. Her niece calls her ‘the hawk whisperer’ for her abilities in getting this close to these birds.

We are working on more bird habitats and focus for the park.

Earlier Birding articles:

Audubon visited for a bird walk-through of the SDR Park (thanks to Pam Ito of The Hort).

Migrating Striped or Black and White Warblers and Vireos in MKGarden. 

From the Audubon Society – protecting Red Tailed Hawks

Buteo Jamaicensis or ..Red Tailed Hawk in Sara Roosevelt Park




Vigil at Rivington House for World AIDS Day


Thanks to all who came, who spoke, and who stood in silent testimony.

Melissa Aase: University Settlement, Alysha Coleman: neighbor/activist, Bob Humber: M’Finda Garden

Thanks to our electeds and their representatives: Council Member Chin, NYState Senator Kavanagh and Representatives Affaz Kahn (Manhattan Borough President Brewer’s Office),  Assemblywoman Niou’s office and Michael Stinson (Comptroller’s Office). And we are always grateful for the support we’ve received from Community Board 3 and their staff.


To our sister and brother organizations that fight for a decent society for everyone:

Including Steve Herrick & Val Orselli (Cooper Sq Committee), Ryan Gilliam (Downtown Arts) Ron (Friends of Joe H) Persephone Tan (Student) and Brandon Culichi (ACT-UP), Emily (Grand Street Settlement), 10 Stanton Street (Alysha), Wendy Brawer (Green Map System) Michele Campo and Ralph Lewis (Bowery Alliance of Neighbors) and others.

And the people of the local and far-flung community who insist on caring.


And the people, organizations, and Friends of the Steering Committee of Neighbors to Save Rivington House [N2SaveRh]: University Settlement, Former staff of RH, UHab, Hand in Hand, JFREJ, M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden, Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coalition, GOLES, CAAAV, Lisa, The Tenants of Neighboring RH Buildings, Neighbors, VNSNY Chinatown NNORC, Institute for Career Development.



Volunteers in M’Finda Kalunga Garden

Visiting volunteers gave Bob a hand in the Garden today led by Dr Thandeka Mazibuko a founder of Sinomusa Nothando Community Development.

Volunteers today were Baye Diof, David Loye and the Dr. herself and of course Bob. 

Dr. Mazibuko: “The reason for donating our services to the park is motivated by #67minutes for Nelson Mandela”


From the Nelson Mandela International Day website:

Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact. The Mandela Day campaign message is: “Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.”

Can you spare 67 minutes of your time helping others?

Every year, on Mandela Day, people around the world are asked by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to do just that.

By devoting 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mr. Mandela’s public service – people can make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and a step towards a global movement for good.

UN staff around the world have made a difference through a variety of activities in the past – from rebuilding homes destroyed by hurricane Sandy, to offering school supplies to children, preparing meals for the elderly, helping out in orphanages, cleaning up parks and delivering computer literacy workshops.

In 2016, UN staff in New York helped women in need receive professional clothing donations, career counselling, child care, and nutritious meals, in volunteer activities organized by the UN Department of Public Information and supported by UN Women.

In 2015, UN staff volunteers in New York, partnered with GreenThumbEast New York Farms, and the UN Food Garden, to plant seedlings, pull weeds, and water plant beds in community gardens across the city.

….In 2014, in New York, UN staff, joined by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and in partnership with MillionTreesNYC, volunteered their time and got their hands dirty by pulling weeds, putting down mulch and watering tree beds to help take care of newly planted trees on the streets of Midtown Manhattan and East Harlem. See video.

In 2013 UN staff  in New York helped rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

If you would like to donate your own time to public service, here are some things you can do to take action and inspire change:

  • Make a new friend. Get to know someone from a different cultural background. Only through mutual understanding can we rid our communities of intolerance and xenophobia.
  • Read to someone who can’t. Visit a local home for the blind and open up a new world for someone else.
  • Help out at the local animal shelter. Dogs without homes still need a walk and a bit of love.
  • Help someone get a job. Put together and print a CV for them, or help them with their interview skills.
  • Many terminally ill people have no one to speak to. Take a little time to have a chat and bring some sunshine into their lives.
  • Get tested for HIV and encourage your partner to do so too.
  • Take someone you know, who can’t afford it, to get their eyes tested or their teeth checked.
  • Donate a wheelchair or guide dog, to someone in need.
  • Buy a few blankets, or grab the ones you no longer need from home and give them to someone in need.

Lo-Down on Rivington House Vigil

From the Lo-Down:

“Coming up on Friday, Dec. 1, local activists will mark World AIDS Day and the two year anniversary of the closing of Rivington House.

The former nursing home for AIDS patients was shuttered by the Allure Group in December of 2015. At the same time, it became known that deed restrictions were lifted on the longtime community facility, clearing the way for the sale and luxury condo conversion of the building at 45 Rivington St. A local group, Neighbors to Save Rivington House, has been battling against the condo developers ever since.”

Read more here.


And Patch. Read more here.

“The purpose of the Candlelight Vigil is to remember the losses of the residents of Rivington House who were our neighbors, and the many, many losses to AIDS of our LES and NYC neighbors over the last 40 years, Importantly, we also hold up many candle flames in the name of community memory, struggle and solidarity in face of these losses.”

Beau and Security Staff Rivington House

Residents Blast Landmarks Agency Ft. Greene Park Plan – ‘Meaningless’ Changes

From Brooklyn News

“Landmarks Preservation Commission voted on Tuesday to approve a controversial redesign of one entrance to the neighborhood’s eponymous park, arguing the plan barely changed after landmarks honchos criticized its disregard for the meadow’s creators’ vision and told Department of Parks and Recreation officials to take it back to the drawing board months ago

“… history buffs contended that planner Frederick Law Olmsted would prefer the grassy knolls over a paved walkway because park-goers can hang out on them.

“[The hills] seem to be a very large gathering place, versus more of a passageway,” said commissioner Wellington Chen. “If you’re saying I can perform many programs on a passageway, that’s true. However, that’s not what Olmsted intended, which is a public gathering place.”

..The landmarks agency’s vote followed that of Community Board 2, which approved the redesign in September after months of debate over whether it catered more to gentrifiers than to longtime locals who often visit the meadow.

The Park’s Department’s amended makeover of a corner of Fort Greene Park

Residents fumed at the new agency head for the majority of the earlier meeting.

Residents from nearby Walt Whitman and Ingersoll Houses wanted:

– a people’s playground .

– perks for the people who live in the public housing complexes surrounding it.

– “We want more grass, more intimate spaces.”

– “We want more recreational opportunities for our kids and seniors.”

– “This is everyone’s backyard.”

– Understand how popular urban meadow

– outreach.



– a fancy facade to make the meadow look good for gentrifiers,

“We don’t want a vanity project.”

– “We don’t want a promenade.”

“Don’t want more pavement.”

– taking out a stone wall and granite platforms.

– chopping down rows of trees to create the path up to the memorial.