action! fight for harlem's gardens (fwd)

jenny (jennyo@intergate.bc.ca)
Mon, 07 Jun 1999 11:05:24 -0700


Subject: Fwd: action!  *  fight for harlem's gardens 
To the Email Army       From gardens@cybergal.com   6/6/99

          ***PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE***

It's only been a month since massive, concerted public pressure
forced the Giuliani Administration to cancel its plan to auction
115 NYC community gardens . . . and already City Hall is at
it again, scheming to bulldoze as many as 10 Harlem gardens
as soon as THIS WEEK.

Read on for background on the current situation; but first, an
urgent call to action. We won a big battle when we stopped
the auction, but the fight is far from over -- and we fight to WIN.

***PHONE PROTEST BEGINNING MONDAY, JUNE 7***

    Veronica White, New York City Housing Partnership
          (212) 493-7435
          see below for more on this garden-destroying group;
          warn of major protests to come if they don't back
          away from building on Harlem gardens

    City Council Speaker Peter Vallone
          (212) 788-7210
          leave a message saying you will hold Vallone PERSONALLY
          responsible if Harlem gardens are destroyed . . . no passing
          the buck any more, Vallone has been a full partner in this
          unsavory deal

********CALL ONCE, OR TWICE, OR MANY TIMES*******
*****************more actions all week long******************

Why the urgency? On Thursday, June 3, the judge in the ongoing
federal lawsuit denied the gardeners' request for a preliminary
injunction against the development of 13 gardens in the pipeline
for imminent housing development. The decision puts these
gardens in immediate danger of bulldozing.

The Giuliani Administration has been destroying gardens through
two different mechanisms. The first -- selling them off at public
auction -- was what we fought, and stopped, this spring.

The second mechanism has been a misnamed and misguided
"affordable housing" program. It's a scheme through which politically
connected developers get all kinds of subsidies and tax breaks
to build flimsy condominiums that cost upwards of $100,000 --
hardly affordable to the low-income New Yorkers who currently
benefit from the gardens.
(For more info, visit www.panix.com/~jaynedoe/afford.html)

The deals are orchestrated by New York's chamber of
commerce, the New York City Partnership, and facilitated by
City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who arranges waivers
of the usual environmental and community reviews, thereby
frustrating public input.
(More on the Partnership: www.panix.com/~jaynedoe/nycp.html)

City Hall has repeatedly tried to present this dispute as a matter
of "housing versus gardens." But there are more than 10,000
vacant lots in the Administration's inventory -- as every major
affordable housing organization in New York City agrees, there's
no reason to build on the gardens.

The Harlem development that now threatens 10 gardens is
particularly ill-conceived and destructive.

Walk down West 121st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues,
and you see one abandoned building after another. Mid-block,
you'll find an empty lot that used to be the Children's Garden of
Love, which was bulldozed last November -- while children
from the public school across the street were headed there
to work on an ongoing class project.

(See http://www.panix.com/~jaynedoe/monitor3_12_99.html
for a CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR piece on the garden's
destruction.)

A block farther north, on West 122nd Street, stands the
15-year-old Joseph Daniel Wilson garden -- which could be
the next to go.

This garden is renowned for its stand of mature mulberry,
cherry, maple, and honey locust trees, and the thousands
of birds they attract. It has served as a center of learning
and economic development since its creation in 1985.

The cherries and mulberries will soon be ripe, and everyone
is invited to the garden's annual Mulberry Festival, which will
take place this year on Saturday, June 19.

Harlem, like most minority communities in New York City,
is dramatically short of green space. How dare developers
and their cronies in City government destroy a beautiful,
health-giving, outdoor community center like the Joseph
Daniel Wilson garden in a neighborhood where children
have no where else to play?

Why not renovate the thousands of abandoned buildings
in the City's inventory instead, or build on one of the
10,000 available vacant lots?

There will be more action alerts all this week -- please use
an idle moment or two (or twenty) in your work day to put
pressure on the partners to this reckless and stupid scheme.

If you can offer other assistance of any kind to the Harlem
gardens, contact Cynthia and Haja Worley at
HAJA216@aol.com

That's all for now, Leslie
gardens@cybergal.com

==============================================
The Mighty Email Army is a direct action-oriented list in
defense of community gardens and other public spaces,
sponsored by the Lower East Side Collective
(www.lescollective.org).

For background on the community gardens fight, visit
www.panix.com/~jaynedoe.

To join the Email Army, or offer feedback, write
gardens@cybergal.com.