Lynn Kelly's Statement on the Paris Climate Agreement

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Today, the first day of hurricane season here in New York, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Let’s not forget what climate change did to our city nearly five years ago: Superstorm Sandy ravaged communities, destroyed homes, and took lives. 

Our parks and opens spaces are quite literally the first line of defense against extreme weather events. Resilient beaches and waterfronts protect us from flooding and storm surges; parks and green spaces provide clean air and relief from sweltering heat; and healthy street tree systems temper the urban heat island effect, absorb storm water run-off, and clear the air of carbon.

But all of this will be lost if we don’t take decisive action to curb the effects of climate change.

New Yorkers are as resilient as the city we call home and we will not back down. Today New Yorkers for Parks is reaffirming our commitment to creating a healthy and sustainable city through the principles laid out in our Public Realm Bill of Rights for New York City, and we’re asking you to join us.

The Bill of Rights includes the right to a healthy environment and a resilient city, where all New Yorkers can lead safe and healthy lives. When we start with a shared understanding of what our public realm rights should be, we can commit to the actions - small and large - that we'll take together. If you agree, add your name and show that you support a public realm that protects and sustains all New Yorkers.

The day after Superstorm Sandy, my heart was broken. At Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island, where I was President at the time, the damage to the park and many nearby neighborhoods was indescribable. But over the following days and months, as I saw New Yorkers come together to help each other and repair their city, I was filled with immense hope and pride that I continue to feel to this day.

Thank you for your support, and for everything you do for us and future generations of New Yorkers. Add your name to the Public Realm Bill of Rights today, and join us in committing to a safe and healthy city!

Lynn B. Kelly
Executive Director, New Yorkers for Parks

Last Chance to Testify on the City Parks Budget

Monday, May 22, 2017

This Thursday, May 25 is the last chance for the public to give testimony to the City Council on the upcoming fiscal year city budget. The Committee on Finance hearing will begin at 10 am, with the public comment period slated to begin at 1 pm. 

Want to brush up on how to give testimony? Our webinar (and transcript) tells you everything you need to know, from how to check-in, how long it should last, to how to shape your messaging.

Want to learn more about how you can influence the city budget? Find out how it all works, including opportunities to make your voice heard, here

Don't have time to give testimony? Add your name to our letter to the Mayor and City Council and let them know you support a strong budget for NYC's parks.

Take Action: Tell City Hall to Fund Parks

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The petition is closed. Thank you to everyone who participated!

The Mayor and City Council are in the final stages of negotiating the city budget, and we need to make sure that New York's parks and open spaces aren't left out. Park use is at an all-time high, and New Yorkers depend on our public spaces more than ever before.

Join us in calling on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to fund critical maintenance staff; protect the GreenThumb community gardening program from major staff and budget loses due to federal budget cuts; add new Partnerships for Parks staff to support community parks groups; hire new Urban Park Rangers; keep our street trees healthy and safe; and support visionary parks projects. Write to your Council Member and the Mayor today!

Who Represents Me: Demystifying the City Council

Monday, May 08, 2017

It’s an election year in NYC, and there are number of city council seats that will be filled by all new representatives next January. How can you figure out what council district you live in, and who might be running for office? Join NY4P at noon on Thursday, May 25 for our lunch-hour webinar as we walk you through all of the steps to understand how to find out who represents you, and how to reach them.

RSVP today! 

Daffodil Project on NY1

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On April 13th NY4P's Emily Walker, Director of Outreach and Programs, joined Marlene Pantin of the Red Hook Conservancy on NY1 to talk about the Daffodil Project and its power as a tool for community engagement and beautification. Watch it on NY1.  

Public Realm Bill of Rights for New York City

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On April 17th, at the NY4P x NYC citywide advocacy meeting, New Yorkers for Parks unveiled our Public Realm Bill of Rights for New York City. The bill lays out the principles the City should follow in creating and maintaining quality open space for all. 

If you missed the meeting you can still get an in-depth look at the Public Realm Bill of Rights in our short webinar

The vast majority of the Public Realm Bill of Rights is based on the input we've gathered from parks and open space advocates across the city over the past year and a half of outreach through our How's Your Park? and NY4P: Boro x Boro meeting series.  

City Parks Budget Update

Monday, April 10, 2017

On April 3rd the City Council released their response to Mayor de Blasio’s FY18 preliminary budget, and it includes some great wins for parks. Under the strong leadership of Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council has demonstrated their commitment to open space.

The City Council budget response includes:

$6 million for 80 additional Parks Enforcement Patrol officers

$9.55m to continue funding 150 critical gardeners and maintenance workers left out of the Mayor’s budget for the third year in row

$1.7m to permanently expand the City’s beach & pool season by a week past Labor Day;

$30m to support additional Parks Without Borders Parks projects;

$3m for 50 new Urban Park Rangers, more than doubling the current 30;

$1m for 10 more Partnership for Parks outreach coordinators; and

$2.6m to expand funding for street tree pruning, allowing the City to return to the 7-year pruning cycle needed to keep trees healthy and streets safe

Mayor de Blasio is now reviewing the response and will soon release his Executive Budget, when the City Council will have another round of hearings. We’ll keep you posted!

While we’ve seen a great commitment to green space from the City Council, an issue of major concern is the potential cut to federal Community Development Block Grants. NYC’s GreenThumb community garden program gets 43 percent of its funding from the program, and the White House has proposed to cut those funds completely. GreenThumb would have to lay off a significant portion of its staff, and have much less money for supplies and tools. This could have a hugely negative impact on the over 500 community gardens that depend on GreenThumb. We’re still waiting to see what the final federal budget will be, and how it will affect New York’s gardens.

You can view our March 21 testimony to the City Council on the parks budget here, and read Council Member Mark Levine's opening statement here

Want to learn more about how the city budget is decided? We cover the entire process, including opportunities for the public to get involved, in "How to Influence the City Budget." 

Meet a New Yorker For Parks: Nilka Martell

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nilka Martell wants people to know that they have power to improve their neighborhoods and their city, and she’s using parks and open spaces to show them how.

“As an individual you have power,” Nilka says. “But so many people don’t realize that. They don’t even know that community boards exist, or they don’t realize what elected officials can do. There’s not a lot of education on the power of being an individual.”

Along with her community volunteer group, Loving the Bronx, Nilka is changing that.

“We empower people with information,” she explains. “We say to them, ‘If there’s something you want changed, here are the steps you can take.’ But we don’t expect them to just go along with what we do. We don’t spoon feed them. Even if they don’t keep working with us, they still have that experience and education, and they can accomplish great things elsewhere.”

It’s impossible to learn about everything Nilka does and not be impressed. Her work has been so impactful, NY4P is honoring her at the 2017 Daffodil Breakfast. She’s a Co-Chair of the Bronx Alliance for Parks and Green Spaces, in addition to leading Loving the Bronx. Nilka’s first group was G.I.V.E., Getting Involved, Virginia Avenue Efforts. But what started as a hyper-local effort to improve her street has turned into a borough-wide project.

One of the key drivers of Nilka’s success comes from her ability to see opportunities where others see roadblocks. In December of 2010 Nilka was laid off from her job. As she was going through the arduous process of looking for another job, Nilka decided that she wanted to learn more about the Bronx, where she had lived her entire life. When she found out that the borough is 25 percent parkland, she saw an opportunity to make a difference in her community.

She took her kids to volunteer stewardship events with NYC Parks, and they loved doing it. They reached out to the Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the Bronx River Alliance, and other groups, looking for more ways to get involved. Before too long they started doing their own work in their own neighborhood.

“I knew nothing about the Parks Department. I knew nothing about community boards or funding opportunities,” Nilka recalls. “I was just a person who lived on a block that I wanted to improve.”

She’s found that one of the best ways to get something done is to just start doing it. “We didn’t wait for funding, or sponsorship, or anything. We just did it,” she says of her first days with G.I.V.E. “At first we just used the gloves we had laying around the house; another volunteer had some industrial trash bags; a neighbor had a few rakes; another gave us some Mexican sunflower seeds that she just happened to have. The first time we planted bulbs from the Daffodil Project we had no idea what we were doing. But in the spring we had beautiful flowers! It would all just come together like that.”

Once she saw how much of a positive impact she and the other volunteers could have beyond their street, she created Loving the Bronx so she could extend their work to push for healthy green spaces throughout the borough.

When asked why she chooses to focus so much of her time and energy on parks and green space, instead of the many other issues affecting the Bronx and the city, she points out that a healthy environment benefits everyone in the neighborhood.

“I thought about how diverse we are, and how 25 percent of the borough is open space. And regardless of who we are or where we’re from, we all breathe the same air. Who doesn’t want a nice park, or healthy trees, or wildlife? It’s something that we can all agree on.”

Nilka and the Loving the Bronx volunteers make a point of reaching out to and working with young people. They believe that if you get people involved when they’re young, that will create a connection that will last their whole life.

“These kids get hands-on lessons in how to organize and mobilize, which they don’t learn in school,” Nilka explains. “This is how movements are made.”

Their work is paying off. Involvement in successful local efforts encouraged people and gave them the confidence to take their work a step further. They now have folks involved in developing long-term care plans for local waterways, looking at how zoning affects their communities, and fighting for better air quality. They got people involved in the campaign to replace the Sheridan Expressway. They’re making tangible improvements.

“We use what’s going on right now to get people involved," Nilka says. "We ask them, If EPA funding is cut, what does that mean for our local waterways?

“If you educate folks and get them engaged, you’re empowering them. And then you can really start something.” 

Our Testimony on the Upcoming City Budget

Friday, March 31, 2017

City budget negotiations are currently underway, and in our testimony to the City Council we tackled some of the most pressing issues facing our open space: federal budget cuts which will have a hugely negative impact on community gardens in some of our city’s neediest areas; the need for better maintenance which will also create good-paying jobs; support for the volunteer community groups who dedicate so much time and energy to improving our city, and more.

Read our testimony here, and check out our resources that can help you understand the city budget process and get started submitting testimony of your own. 

Fearless Women for the Fearless Girl

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Update: On March 27th Mayor de Blasio announced that the "Fearless Girl" will remain in place until early 2018. This is entirely due to the many people from New York and beyond who wrote letters, signed petitions, and encouraged their elected officials to ask for the statue to remain. 

On March 15th thirteen prominent women leaders in New York City urbanism and public space sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio asking him to let the "Fearless Girl" statue continue to call Bowling Green home for longer than the month currently authorized. The signers are aware that the City is exploring the possibility of keeping her for longer, after hearing from many New Yorkers who want to see her stay, and they applaud the Mayor’s receptivity. 

Reach the full letter, below.

March 15, 2017

Hon. Bill de Blasio
City of New York
City Hall, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor de Blasio,

It is hard to find a statue of a woman in New York City. Just ask Troop 3484 of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York who, after learning that there were no statues of real women in Central Park decided to do something about the underrepresentation.  They pledged to donate a portion of their Girl Scout cookie proceeds this year to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund, an initiative to place statues of the two famous women’s rights activists in Central Park.

Last week, however, that search got a little bit easier.  Greeting all of us in Lower Manhattan was a petite bronze statue of a young girl, adorned in high-top sneakers and a ponytail, planted squarely across from the iconic Charging Bull sculpture in Bowling Green Park. She stands fearless and confident, hopeful and empowered. “This is a piece of work,” said the artist Kristen Visbal, “all women of any age, shape, color, or creed can relate to.”

By now, you’ve heard of her, The Fearless Girl. 

Fearless Girl has been photographed, tweeted, and shared thousands of times in the last week.  Resident New Yorkers and tourists alike have flocked to Bowling Green to see the symbolic statue in person.  In fact, some of us, leaders and directors of various nonprofits and businesses in New York, made last minute changes to our schedules to meet up and take a picture with her.

Fearless Girl represents not only the importance of sculpture in the urban environment but the power of our public spaces, where all kinds of people gather over shared interests and common experiences.  Fearless Girl has resonated with thousands of women, just like us.  As women in leadership roles in New York City, we are all too familiar with underrepresentation and the challenges that women continue to face in society.  Know that each one of us has been, and continues to be that girl – emboldened, resilient, courageous and willing to lead in the face of adversity. 

We commend your Administration for supporting women in leadership roles in government and in the workplace.  Your support bolsters what we do and we thank you for your leadership.  Allowing Fearless Girl, this important symbol of equality and strength, to appear on International Women’s Day was both moving and inspiring to all of us and it is equally thrilling to see how she has been embraced by people of all races, ages and gender. 

We fully respect the City’s permitting and review process but still believe that this timeless, empowering statue belongs in our public realm for longer than its permitted week or requested month.  We request that that the City will consider granting a longer ‘temporary’ status to Fearless Girl, as we find her no less symbolic than the Bull.  We want generations of New Yorkers and visitors to feel we what we feel when we look at her  – proud to have made a difference, proud to be a New Yorker. 

Mr. Mayor, we ask you today to please make Fearless Girl a longer-standing fixture of this forward-thinking, amazing city we call home.


Lynn B. Kelly
Executive Director
New Yorkers for Parks

Betty Chen
BYC Projects and Former NYC Planning Commissioner

Susan Chin
Executive Director
Design Trust for Public Space

Susan M. Donoghue
Prospect Park Alliance

Amy L. Freitag
Executive Director
J.M. Kaplan Fund

Elizabeth Goldstein
The Municipal Art Society of New York

Kamillah M. Hanks
President & CEO
Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership

Vivian Liao Korich

Holly Leicht
Former Executive Director
New Yorkers for Parks

Regina Myer
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Angela Sung Pinsky
Executive Director
Association for a Better New York

Kathy Shea
Executive Director
American Society of Landscape Architects, New York

Claire Weisz
W X Y architecture + urban design 

cc:  Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, DCLA

      Commissioner Mitchell Silver, DPR

      Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, DOT

      Mr. Justin Garrett Moore, PDC