FABnyc Call for Artist Proposals To Honor the former Chrystie Street African Burial Ground and Advance Public Understanding of the History and Presence of Black Communities in the Lower East Side

From FABnyc:

APPLICATION FORM & additional information
Deadline for submission:  Saturday, January 21, 2023 (midnight)

NYC’s Lower East Side has always been shaped by the history and presence of Black communities.  Yet for most New Yorkers, these histories are hidden or unacknowledged.

The creation of the Chrystie Street African Burial Ground by the African Society after the Chambers Street burial ground was closed, the early legacies of ‘half freedom’ and Black land ownership, the African Free Schools of the 18th century, the mixed-race dance halls on the Bowery, and the impact of the Draft Riots are central narratives for building a true understanding of the Lower East Side and New York City.  These stories require new and creative methods for being shared with the general public.

As part of this effort, FABnyc is issuing an open call to artists to create an art installation at M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden to memorialize the Chrystie Street African Burial Ground.

The proposed project should honor the former Chrystie Street African Burial Ground and advance public understanding of the history and presence of Black communities in the Lower East Side.
Here is more information from the historian and archivist Emilyn Brown without whom none of this history would be well known.
“Archivist Emilyn Brown works in an annex of the Library to process the personal and professional papers and mementos of Dorothy I. Height, a major architect of the 1963 March on Washington, close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr., and world-renowned civil rights and women’s rights activist.”


Read MoreFABnyc Call for Artist Proposals To Honor the former Chrystie Street African Burial Ground and Advance Public Understanding of the History and Presence of Black Communities in the Lower East Side
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Weekend of Work in Sebastiaen de Britto Garden and Self Defense Practice in the Pit

Martial Arts Practice (and a bit of tennis practice) Inside “The Pit”.

Gardeners removed dead branches, pruned, dug up weeds, organized the flower beds, planted bulbs, and collapsed rat burrows!

And our much loved “Sunflower” Garden of Hope:

Read MoreWeekend of Work in Sebastiaen de Britto Garden and Self Defense Practice in the Pit
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It’s My Park Day!! Halloween! Stanton Building Activation!

A beautiful weekend Sunday, Halloween, bulb and tree stump removal and new tree planting, live gorgeous music by the Eric Paulin Quartet and the Judette Elliston Trio (thank you FABnyc), plans to move forward with activating the Stanton Parkhouse, Free Store Face-painting, Labyrinth-making, Halloween art-making, Stanton CSA info, neighbors and local non-profits meeting and working together to make the day go well.


A warm and gracious welcome from our local neighborhood-raised Park advocate Council Member Chris Marte (or was that Julius Cesar?) and our local community to our vibrant, well-informed, new Manhattan Borough Park Commissioner Anthony Perez!

With words of encouragement, promise and excitement for a new phase of community partnership!

Favorite comment of the day: “This is so much fun”

Thank you to our Task Force members FABnyc and the Eric Paulin Quartet and the Judette Elliston Trio, University Settlement and their artist and crafts -maker, Sara Roosevelt Park Coalition, GreenMap, and Pratt. And the countless volunteer efforts of this community like  Stanton CSA, Myles’ FreeStore face painting arts, Diane Carulli’s Labyrinth, Urban Park Ranger (off-duty volunteer), Steve Elson, Allen/Pike Volunteer Gardener Justen Ladda, M’Finda Kalunga Garden, Neighbors to Save Rivington House’ long-time activists Lisa Kaplan and Harriet Cohen, and Buro Happold, and Marvel our pro-bono architects and engineers vis a vis FABnyc!

We could have this here.

Take a look at what we got to do:

The day starts with NYCParks Staff dropping off supplies from Partnerships for Parks set up with our partners and volunteers.

The planting of a new tree in the Tree Pit here!

By the determination and energy of Keena Suh (Pratt Design School Professor) the steady hard labor and effort of Jake (volunteer-for-the-day) who broke through the cement-like tree pit surface (with the help of composer/musician Steve Elson), and the expertise and commitment of Daniel Tainow (off-duty Park Ranger volunteer) and help from our newest “volunteer” Park Commissioner Perez.

Check out that old busted tree stump!


and the ‘back’-story:


Long, long, long time Park advocates Bob Humber and Jim Pender

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A Day in the Park

Beautiful days in Sara Roosevelt Park –

Fairy Homes, Bob at his post, Ganesh, flowers, Ken rushing off to Clean Up Forsyth Plaza, Free Store, Photography, Neighbors meeting, (trash on Houston could use a little work DOT)

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PlayFair Rally at City Hall March 2022

Adam Ganser ED of NYs4Parks rallying the troops on March 22nd at City Hall
Play Fair for Parks Budget Rally


It’s Time to Fight for Our Parks Budget!

“We’ve always relied on NYC’s parks and open spaces, but over the last two years they’ve been central to our city’s recovery and our collective wellbeing. Mayor Adams committed to funding NYC Parks with 1% of the NYC budget on the campaign trail: “We need to do everything we can to preserve the future generations of New Yorkers the right to these essential parks.”

However, his recently released preliminary budget sharply departs from these promises, cutting the NYC Parks budget by $60 million and potentially allowing 3,500 essential NYC Parks jobs (including PEP officers and maintenance staff) to expire on June 30.”

In attendance at the March 22 rally were City Council Parks Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan; Council Members Chris Marte, Erik Bottcher, Julie Menin, Eric Dinowitz, Marjorie Velázquez, Althea Stevens, Sandy Nurse and Selvena Brooks-Powers representing the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan; and Borough Presidents Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso.

Mayor Adams had previously signed this commitment during his election campaign – then outlined in the New Yorkers for Parks’ Five Point Plan for Park Equity – however as Adams announced his Preliminary budget, the previously agreed upon amount was slashed in half.

This decision to allocate only 0.5% to the Park Department would cut $60 million from the proposed budget and potentially put 3,500 essential NYC Parks employees at risk of losing their jobs.


Columbus Park’s Karlin Chan, Sara Roosevelt Park’s K Webster and many members of the PlayFair Coalition ‘parkies’!

The $44 million broke down like this:

  • $19.1 million for park maintenance workers
  • $8.2 million for GreenThumb community gardens
  • $6 million for 80 additional Parks Enforcement Patrol officers
  • $4 million for 50 additional Urban Park Rangers
  • $4 million for Forestry Management
  • $1.7 million to extend the pool and beach season
  • $1 million for tree stump removal

President of Sara Roosevelt Park Coalition K Webster Rally Talk:

Thank you to all who came to rally.

My name is K Webster and I am with the Sara Roosevelt Park Community and PlayFair for Parks Coalitions.

We have been a park coalition since the early 80’s when the neighborhood reclaimed this park from neglect, drug dealing and murder. Two unique gardens were built then: the M’Finda Kalunga Garden and the Hua Mei Bird Sanctuary.

Now, Once again, we face neglect and are the site of murders, assaults and drug dealing with both the housed and the unhoused as victims.

They were all tragic and senseless and none of them deserved to die or be harmed.

For the moment, thankfully, a PEP officer now sits inside our park’s senior center with its majority elderly Asian community.

Despite low staffing and a lack of water sources, in parts of our park, Park manager Jamil and his staff do all they can to support the many community members who maintain gardens throughout the park.

An incredible Park’s worker, a Latina grandmother, scrupulously cleans half of the park, working alone or with a volunteer. An 87 yr. old African American man sits guarding the playground.  A volunteer for 40 years. Just had a stroke. He’s our homeless volunteer’s anchor.

A fully funded project to fix doors and windows in that senior center has waited 7 years.

A Parkhouse, promised 30+ years ago for neighborhood use, still sits, despite being in a troubled section that tries to serve 4 ELL high schools, a low -income charter school, NYCHA, Mitchel Lama, and Deaf housing across the street.

Our park is the air conditioning, summer home, vacation rental for families living in tenements.

During the pandemic, to avoid congregate shelters with no PPE, our park paths were lined with people who slept in the park.

Neighborhoods where there’s no money need a funded Parks and the collaborative efforts of its workforce and volunteers.

We need to invest in our essential paid Park workforce with good pay, job security, training, and benefits. You are the backbone of parks and should be treated that way.

Staffing is needed to lead on climate mitigation to build our oxygen infrastructure.

In an over-heated city, parks are safety valves in these over-heated times.

Sports, beauty, chances to garden or sit safely, a welcome to everyone, and importantly parks give us chances to meet people we otherwise never would.

Read MorePlayFair Rally at City Hall March 2022
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