project leader
Paula S
One Center Street
City-wide (New York City!)
latest update rss
Thanks for supporting 596 Acres (and ALL CITY ACRES!)

the project


596 Acres has been connecting communities with vacant public land resources in Brooklyn since August 2011. In less than a year, three new projects have started on sites that we identified and 24 more communities have initiated their organizing efforts. 

We know this works. With your support, we will be able to bring our tactics to the other four boroughs.

Starting with data recently made available as a result of City legislation, we hope to make accurate maps of vacant publicly owned properties in the other four boroughs. Once the data is ready, we will seek out graphic designers from each borough to customize a print map (22.75" x 30”) for each borough. We will print 1,000 maps of each and distribute them through the network of community-based organizations. Also through those organizations, we will host “Land Use Visioning Sessions” in those communities to discuss with members what they would like to see on public land in their neighborhoods and to provide a primer for organizing for control of the land as well as on contact and context for advocating with city agencies for permission to make community visions a reality. 

In each borough, we will chose 25 sites to label so that local community members have the information they need to improve their own surroundings.

As we have demonstrated in Brooklyn, New Yorkers in their communities are looking for land to work on with their neighbors. Project goals range from growing food to educating youth to providing social space, and all push the boundaries of how well we can live, together.

We have received so many inquiries about data for other boroughs that the answer to that question is on our very short list of “Frequently Asked Questions” on our website. With your help, we can answer those inquiries with data! 

the steps

  • Clean-up citywide data for accuracy and relevance for maps and directories
  • Design maps and directories for each of the boroughs           
  • Print maps and directories for each of the boroughs           
  • Organize training and meetings in each borough, distribute maps and directories to local community members    
  • In each borough & in partnership with local organizations, we will chose 25 sites to label so that local community members have the information they need to improve their own surroundings.                   
  • Organize follow-up training meetings in each borough to facilitate hand-off of project to local community members

why we're doing it

Vacant public land is scattered all over the city -- concentrated in communities that lack services, green space and access to fresh food. Often that land is hiding in plain sight. We let communities know it is there, identify it on the ground, then shepherd groups through the process of getting access and getting their community projects started. 


We got a $1000 grant from the Awesome Foundation to help us start this project, but now we need your support to make this complete and even more awesome. Data Clean-up $15/ 40 hours $600 Design of map and directory – Queens $25/ 30 hours $750 Design of map and directory - Manhattan $25/ 30 hours $750 Printing of the maps and directories $250/1000 4000 (1000/ borough) $1000 Sign Making Materials $242 Project Total = $3342 Third Party Credit Card Processing Fee (3%) = $100.26 Fiscal Sponsorship = $167.10 ioby Materials and Labor = $35 Grand Total = $3644.36

Total raised = $3865.00

$3000 grant
5% fiscal sponsorship = $150
disbursement subtotal = $2,815


$865 raised on ioby

5% fiscal sponsorship = $43.25
3% third party credit card processing = $25.95
second disbursement subtotal = $795.80

Total to be disbursed to group = $3,645.80


Thanks for supporting 596 Acres (and ALL CITY ACRES!)

We're growing and we just wanted to say thanks for your support!

Here are some of the recent things we are the most excited about:

  • Our fourth site just got official -- Patchen Community Square in Bed Stuy was just today approved for community control by NYC agencies!
  • 462 Halsey Community Garden had a fabulous "Grand Opening" -- after six months of volunteer work, the garden is open daily to the public; the gate is open everyday from early morning to dusk.
  • Feedback Farms, A Small Green Patch, and the Textile Arts Center, projects that share a site in Gowanus, were featured along with us in a Sunday Metro Section story in the New York Times.
  • We're psyched to have been selected by the Institute for Urban Design to represent the U.S. at the Venice Architecture Biennale this fall. The U.S. presentation is on "Spontaneous Interventions" and the whole theme of the Biennale is "Common Ground." Seems very right to us!
  • We won the Best Green App award from the NYC BigApps 3.0 competition!

And some things we're looking forward to:

  • We're aiming to go ALL CITY by July. To that end, we have gotten support from the Awesome Foundation to do the work of getting our website ready & the Citizen's Committee of NYC to help pay for design, production and distribution of materials.
  • We're also exploring our potential role as a facilitator of relationships between private owners of vacant lots and the communities who live near those lots. We are starting with a single relationship: One Kin Farm in Bed Stuy which starts building next week and has the space to do so through the generosity of a private landowner who shares our vision of a network of decentralized community spaces operated by engaged citizens. We'd love to meet other friendly landowners.


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • George E.
  • Anonymous
  • Alyssa D.
  • Kevin H.
  • Mara G.
  • Eva M.
  • Mimi T.
  • Susan M.
  • Bree H.
  • Nathan S.
  • Gina B.
  • Gabriel W.
  • Garrett W.
  • Merran S.
  • Mara G.
  • Andrew B.
  • Caren D.
  • Casey A.
  • David W.
  • Mary F.
  • Helen H.
  • Matthew M.
  • Ariel K.
  • Alison I.
  • Cindy G.
  • Richard S.