Tuesday, 11/17: Action to save gardens on HPD land

Join us and gardens on HPD land to protest the 6th Annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit at the Brooklyn Museum, organized by the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network (BAN). Land grabs by real estate developers are causing widespread displacement, particularly of people of color, across the borough. With this onslaught of gentrification includes the threat of all community gardens, particularly those on HPD land. Join us to protest this summit and save community gardens!

WHEN: 11/17, 11:30am
WHERE: Brooklyn Museum

Let us know at united@nyccgc.org if you can attend!

NYCCGC and our membership are strong proponents for the construction of *truly* affordable housing, and we applaud the Mayor for working to create direly-needed affordable and low-income housing through the five boroughs. However, we see no benefit to the community when developers are allowed to build on sites that are active community gardens, consistently providing significant benefits to their neighborhoods.

Community Gardens have for decades been an integral part of the fabric of New York City. These gardens are living symbols of unity built by neighbors who joined together to turn abandoned, trash-strewn lots into vibrant community oases. Community gardens in NYC represent a truly holistic, resilient, cost-effective neighborhood-based source of sustainable food production, increasing people’s access to locally grown fresh produce, while negating effects of climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

As written in this open letter to the heads of the Brooklyn Museum:

The African-American community of Crown Heights, which is the Museum’s home, is in crisis, suffering daily displacements and tenant harassment. A mile or two away from the Museum, in Gowanus, over 300 artists just lost their studios in one building alone. Both of these examples are direct results of the tactics of the very people who are being welcomed by the Museum at this upcoming Summit. In September 2015, there were 59,305 homeless people, including 14,280 homeless families with 23,923 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system.

The organizers of the Real Estate Summit, upon learning of our intent to protest, proposed that a single artist be invited to speak to attendees. However, the Summit’s goals are in direct opposition to the needs of the majority of people who are struggling to pay rent in Brooklyn. Rents have increased 75% from 2000-2012, while the median household income for a family of four in Brooklyn is just $44,850. The conference’s stated goal to derive higher profits from Brooklyn real estate will exacerbate the ongoing displacement of thousands of New Yorkers, and therefore we decline the offer to participate.

Sarah Quinter has also published an open letter detailing the impacts of NYC's real estate climate on the people who live here:

According to the summit agenda, after paying their registration fees of over $500, attendees can learn how to squeeze more profit from "seemingly picked-over areas". Apparently, gentrified neighborhoods like mine where some of us still manage to hang on are not yet sufficiently exploited. And sounding like hounds, workshop presenters ask, "Where is the bleeding edge of neighborhood transformation?" This language hints at the very real violence that gentrification incurs, sometimes actually resulting in blood being spilled. Notice the deliberate uptick in police enforcing racist "Broken Windows" policies in neighborhoods slated for "revitalization". Consider the case of Alex Nieto, 28 year-old San Francisco native shot dead by police when a gentrifier called the cops on him for sitting on a park bench and "looking suspicious". And of course, let us not forget that there are now 60,000 homeless New Yorkers, a number we have not seen since the Great Depression, and clearly correspondent with skyrocketing rents.  Bleeding edges, indeed.

Workshop presenters also ask, "What is the next Atlantic Yards?", invoking a notorious mega-development project most native to Brooklyn shudder to think of, rife as it was with lying and manipulation by developer Forest City Ratner and featuring ludicrous "affordable" units going to households earning more than $100,000 a year. With such a dearth of truly affordable housing, the last thing we need is another Atlantic Yards.

In light of all this, I must ask: by hosting this summit, who is the Brooklyn Museum really serving? it's not serving me, despite my being a "young creative" Brooklyn resident. Growing up in the working class immigrant neighborhood of Jackson Heights and now residing in the similar neighborhood of Bushwick, I am watching the city that made me who I am disappear by the day. It's no surprise that heavy-hitting politicians like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams are stars at the summit you plan to host. These are the same politicians who push policies that make displacement frighteningly easy for the developers they hobnob with, even as they pay lip service to siding with tenants.

Please join NYCCGC and your fellow community gardeners and allies at this important protest! See you on the 17th.