NY4P youth planting at P.S. 21 in Staten Island
As winter approaches, we are completing our planting season for this year’s Daffodil Project. This was one of the biggest years in the Project’s history, thanks in large part to the over 875 individuals and civic organizations who planted our bulbs. In total, we distributed 560,000 bulbs to be planted in all corners of New York City. We continued our efforts in neighborhoods still recovering from Sandy, and Roger Clark from NY1 and NY1 Noticias joined our school planting at PS 104 in Far Rockaway on the storm's two-year anniversary.
We began a new partnership with the Trust for Public Land Schoolyards to Playgrounds program, and continued our partnerships with NYCParks, the Horticultural Society of New York, the New York City Housing Authority, Grow to Learn, Penny Harvest, and the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. Over 240 schools received bulbs, and volunteers reported that they would be planting bulbs with over 25,000 kids throughout the five boroughs. New York City will bloom brightly this spring thanks to the efforts of everyone who planted bulbs this fall.
Ranaqua Playground, Mott Haven, Bronx
NEW YORK, NY – The following is a statement from New Yorkers for Parks Executive Director Tupper Thomas:
“With today’s significant investment in neighborhood parks, the de Blasio administration and City Council have made a strong commitment to building a better park system for all New Yorkers.
“The Community Parks Initiative is smart parks policy that takes the long view. It starts with a number of well-targeted capital projects in high-need areas, and delivers a sustained investment in those areas, from maintenance funding to programming, to stewardship cultivation. The Initiative will begin the long-term task of rebuilding the city's neighborhood parks and playgrounds. It isn’t just a quick fix: the program lays the groundwork for community building in many areas of the city that need it most.
“Addressing park equity issues has long been at the heart of New Yorkers for Parks’ research and advocacy, so it is particularly gratifying to see many of the policies for which we have advocated – a Parks Department capital budget allocated more in accordance with need, and dedicated maintenance funding to accompany that capital budget – being implemented by the mayor today. The City Council, led by Speaker Mark-Viverito and Parks Chairman Levine, deserves credit, too, for securing funding through the budget process for much of the Community Parks Initiative’s maintenance component.
“There are, of course, alternate ways to fund parks, and we look forward to working with the administration and Council to explore thoughtful, productive measures to bolster public spending. But the key to addressing park equity issues has always been meaningful public-sector investment, and that’s exactly what the mayor and Council have delivered.”
We’re pleased to announce the appointment of Emily Walker as our new Director of Outreach and Programs. Emily has been with NY4P since April of 2012, and previously served as our Community Outreach and Events Coordinator. Many of you may know Emily through our annual Daffodil Project, which she has overseen since starting at NY4P. Under her leadership, the Project has reached record numbers of New Yorkers and forged many new partnerships. Prior to starting at NY4P, Emily worked for Tom Hayden in Los Angeles, where she assisted with research and helped oversee the incorporation of The Peace and Justice Resource Center, a 501(c)3 organization.
Emily is eager to expand NY4P’s outreach initiatives throughout the five boroughs. With the de Blasio administration’s new focus on park equity, NY4P will be working to grow our outreach staff and programs, and we are thrilled to have Emily continuing her work with us in this capacity.
It’s a familiar complaint among even the most ardent park lovers in New York City: navigating the road toward effective park advocacy is just too confusing.
But now, through a collaboration of New Yorkers for Parks, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and Partnerships for Parks (PfP) there is a guide aimed at lifting that fog: “How Can I Improve My Park?”
The fold-out poster, which features engaging design by Elana Schlenker and colorful illustration by Brooklyn artist Leslie Wood, is designed to help advocates cut through the often-onerous process of advocating for park improvements – from maintenance concerns like litter, broken benches or overgrown grass, to capital projects, like a new dog run or playground, increased signage or better wheelchair access.
Download the full poster here.
“Park advocates contact us all the time to ask: ‘where do I start?’” said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “It’s a complex process, so we wanted to create a guide that eliminates any of that confusion and makes the process much smoother for those who know their local parks best but may not know how to navigate the city’s budget process. This poster will really empower park advocates from across New York City to make a difference in their communities.”
“This issue of Making Policy Public will make it easier for people, regardless of their backgrounds, to advocate for improvements to their local parks,” said CUP Executive Director Christine Gaspar. “We developed the poster with a focus on reaching underserved communities, who often have less access to resources. As with all CUP projects, this poster breaks down a complex process into a step-by-step guide to meaningful participation.”
"Partnerships for Parks is dedicated to sharing information and opportunities so people can effectively participate in the care and planning of their neighborhood parks and green spaces," said Sabina Saragoussi, Director of Partnerships for Parks. "This publication is an important part of empowering New Yorkers to have a meaningful impact."
“How Can I Improve My Park” was produced after soliciting extensive feedback from park advocates, and those who know the ins and outs of the park advocacy process at each step: community board members, borough president and Council staffers, and Parks Department officials.
In particular, the poster addresses several of the common concerns among park advocates: whom to contact about an issue or desired project, and when. It neatly lays out a course of action – from coalition building and letter-writing, to community board presentations and meetings with public officials. It also clearly describes the difference between advocating for a capital project and a maintenance or staffing issue.
New Yorkers for Parks, CUP and PfP will distribute posters at a free Partnerships Academy Workshop launch event for advocates on July 24 at the Parks Department’s Arsenal headquarters. Speakers at the event will include NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, New York City Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, and NY4P Executive Director Tupper Thomas. Partnerships Academy is a training program of Partnerships for Parks that supports community-based park groups and individuals to achieve success.
The project is part of CUP’s Making Policy Public initiative, which features foldout posters that use graphic design to explore and explain public policy. Making Policy Public is published four times a year. Each poster is the product of a collaboration of a designer, an advocate, and CUP.
Additionally, the poster complements PeopleMakeParks.org, an online toolkit developed by Partnerships for Parks and Hester Street Collaborative to help community members understand and participate in the NYC Parks capital process.
Support for “How Can I Improve my Park?” was provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Surdna Foundation, A Blade of Grass, and the North Star Fund, and public funding was provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
To order a free hard copy, contact Emily Walker, NY4P's Outreach & Events Coordinator, at email@example.com or 212-838-9410, extension 314.
Mayor de Blasio and the City Council agreed Wednesday to add $16.25 million to the Parks Department's budget: a significant victory for park advocates across the city.
The increase, to be funded by a blend of Council and mayoral money, includes:
· $8.75 million for 200 full-time maintenance workers and gardeners
· $5 million for 80 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers
· $1 million for tree pruning
· $750,000 for a neighborhood parks equity fund for "friends of" groups
· $750,000 for the removal of approximately 2,300 stumps
As we’ve noted throughout the spring budget season, addressing park inequities begins with the public budget. This significant increase, for which the Council and de Blasio administration are to be commended, is a great start. The addition of full-time maintenance workers and gardeners will boost on-the-ground accountability, and the added PEP officers will help alleviate quality-of-life issues. And in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other significant weather events, we’re grateful that our call for additional tree pruning and stump removal money was answered, too.
While just a start, this increase – and the momentum in the Council and among advocates that helped bring it to fruition – sets a strong precedent for future de Blasio administration budgets. It’s clear that the Council, under the leadership of Parks Committee Chairman Mark Levine, made park funding one of its priorities this year, and that is in no small part due to the efforts of park advocates. Next year, with your help, we’ll build on those efforts and aim even higher. From all of us at New Yorkers for Parks: THANK YOU!
South Beach, Staten Island
Few Parks Department properties sustained as much damage from Hurricane Sandy as the city’s public swimming beaches and boardwalks. Now, we are conducting our first post-storm assessment of their condition using our Report Card survey tool.
NY4P published Report Cards on Beaches in 2007, 2009 and 2011. While the maintenance conditions dramatically improved over that time, these spaces require a fresh assessment following Sandy. Our new report will be two-fold: it will score maintenance conditions – including bathrooms, drinking fountains, pathways and shorelines – and it will assess how the Parks Department is handling beach recovery from a management perspective. We are hopeful that the report will provide the Parks Department with a helpful independent assessment of its post-Sandy beach recovery work, and look forward to sharing the findings of the report with the City Council and de Blasio administration, as well as advocates in areas with public beaches. As increasingly volatile weather becomes the norm, it’s critical that the Council and Administration work to staff and fund the Parks Department accordingly. We hope our new report will help ensure just that.