Central Park New York City1.jpg
  • This Northern Manhattan Wetland Has Faced Climate-Change-Induced Erosion and Sea Level Rise. A Living Shoreline Has Reimagined the Space, insideclimatenews.org (Aug 03, 2023) — In the process to create a climate-resilient city, the shoreline restoration of one of the largest remaining wetlands in Manhattan has succeeded due to community engagement and consistent stewardship. By Juanita Gordon
  • Surviving the smoke-pocalypse 101: Californians offer advice to New Yorkers, theguardian.com (Jun 09, 2023)
  • The Green Jobs Boom Is Benefiting the People Who Need It Most, reasonstobecheerful.world (Jan 10, 2023)

Read more

This page is the beginnings of a portal for New York City community action. Most of this page focuses on New York City community action topics. Separate pages cover Resources New York City and New York City news

New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over 300.46 square miles (778.2 km2), the city is the most densely populated major city in the United States. NYC is more than twice as populous as Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest city. New York City is at the southern tip of New York State and is situated on one of the world's largest natural harbors. The city comprises five boroughs, each of which is coextensive with a respective county. The five boroughs, which were created in 1898 when local governments were consolidated into a single municipality, are: Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County), Manhattan (New York County), the Bronx (Bronx County), and Staten Island (Richmond County). New York City is a global city and a cultural, financial, high-tech, entertainment, glamour, and media center with a significant influence on commerce, health care and scientific output in life sciences, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, dining, art, fashion, and sports. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy, and it is sometimes described as the world's most important city and the capital of the world.

The city is the geographical and demographic center of both the Northeast megalopolis and the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by both population and urban area. With over 20.1 million people in its metropolitan statistical area and 23.5 million in its combined statistical area as of 2020, New York City is one of the world's most populous megacities. The city and its metropolitan area are the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. New York City enforces a right-to-shelter law guaranteeing shelter to anyone who needs shelter, regardless of their immigration status; and the city is home to more than 3.2 million residents born outside the U.S., the largest foreign-born population of any city in the world as of 2016. It is the most visited U.S. city by international visitors. Providing continuous 24/7 service and contributing to the nickname The City That Never Sleeps, the New York City Subway is the largest single-operator rapid transit system in the world with 472 passenger rail stations, and Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan is the busiest transportation hub in the Western Hemisphere.

Networks and sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]

  • Sustainable South Bronx
  • Change by Us NYC
  • planyc, is an effort released by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2007 to prepare the city for one million more residents, strengthen the economy, combat climate change, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. The Plan brought together over 25 City agencies to work toward the vision of a greener, greater New York. Since then, significant progress has been made towards the long-term goals set by the Plan.
PlaNYC specifically targets ten areas of interest: Housing and Neighborhoods; Parks and Public Spaces; Brownfields; Waterways; Water Supply; Transportation; Energy; Air Quality; Solid Waste; and Climate Change.
Over 97% of the 127 initiatives in PlaNYC were launched within one-year of its release and almost two-thirds of its 2009 milestones were achieved or mostly achieved. The plan was updated in 2011 and has been expanded to 132 initiatives and more than 400 specific milestones for December 31, 2013. (Wikipedia), GreeNYC

Ecovillages[edit | edit source]

  • Ganas, "community started on Staten Island in 1979. The original founders came together to form a self-selected extended family based on an intention to care for each other while sharing the work, having fun and addressing whatever problems arise, together. Open minds make it possible to talk together and understand each other better. Ongoingly, they are learning how to cooperate, care for each other and share resources."

Visions[edit | edit source]


Climate action[edit | edit source]

Video: New York City's greenhouse gas emissions as one-ton spheres of carbon dioxide gas, 19 Oct 2012

Wikipedia:Climate change in New York City (article appears to be not very up to date)

Biodiversity[edit | edit source]

New York City Audubon - The Welikia Project, Ecology of pre-1609 New York City

Environment quality[edit | edit source]

wikipedia:Environmental issues in New York City are affected by the city's size, density, abundant public transportation infrastructure, and location at the mouth of the Hudson River. New York's population density has environmental pros and cons. It facilitates the highest mass transit use in the United States, but also concentrates pollution. Gasoline consumption in the city is at the rate the national average was in the 1920s, and greenhouse gas emissions are a fraction of the national average, at 7.1 metric tons per person per year, below San Francisco, at 11.2 metric tons, and the national average, at 24.5 metric tons. New York City accounts for only 1% of United States greenhouse gas emissions while housing 2.7% of its population. In September 2012, New York was named the #1 "America's Dirtiest City," by a Travel+Leisure readership survey that rated the environmental quality of 35 prominent cities in the United States.

Open spaces[edit | edit source]


Bronx River Alliance

Design Trust for Public Space, nonprofit organization dedicated to the future of public space in New York City. "Our projects bring together city agencies, community groups and private sector experts to make a lasting impact — through design — on how New Yorkers live, work and play.[1] - The High Line & Friends of the High Line (Wikipedia) The High Line is a 1-mile (1.6 km) New York City linear park built on a section of an elevated former New York Central Railroad spur, redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway - People Make Parks supports community groups to contribute to NYC Parks' building and design process

Wikipedia:Parks and recreation in New York City: Major municipal parks in New York City include Central Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Forest Park, and Washington Square Park. The largest is Pelham Bay Park, followed by the Staten Island Greenbelt. City Parks Foundation offers more than 1200 free performing arts events in parks across the city each year. The city has 28,000 acres (113 km²) of municipal parkland and 14 miles (22 km) of public municipal beaches.

Trees, woodland and forest[edit | edit source]

Million Trees NYC

Community involvement[edit | edit source]

Choir! Choir! Choir! & Patti Smith sing "PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER" in NYC with Stewart Copeland
Authors: Choir! Choir! Choir!, Sep 19, 2019

BetaNYC, building a better tomorrow for all. "We are NYC's civic technology and open government vanguard. Since 2009, we have been leading elected officials to engage NYC's technology community, helping pass transformative open government legislation, and supporting NYC's civic oriented startups. We are America's largest civic technology and open government community." - Participatory Budgeting in New York City

Community currencies activism[edit | edit source]

Community Connections TimeBank, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

Community energy[edit | edit source]

Cycling activism[edit | edit source]

Streetfilms-Tour de Brooklyn 2007
Authors: StreetfilmsVlog
9th Av 30 St bikelane jeh.jpg

Bike New York - Citi Bike, bicycle sharing system


Cycling in New York City is associated with mixed cycling conditions that include dense urban proximities, relatively flat terrain, congested roadways with "stop-and-go" traffic, and streets with heavy pedestrian activity. The city's large cycling population includes utility cyclists, such as delivery and messenger services; cycling clubs for recreational cyclists; and, increasingly, commuters. While New York City developed the country's first bike path in 1894, and recent trends place the city "at the forefront of a national trend to make bicycling viable and safe," competing ideas of urban transportation have led to conflict, as well as ongoing efforts to balance the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, and cars.

Bike New York is an organization based in New York City that encourages cycling and bicycle safety. They are best known for producing the Five Boro Bike Tour, the largest recreational cycling event in the United States. The Tour, which occurs on the first Sunday of May every year, takes 30,000 riders in a 42-mile ride around New York City. Bike New York also produces smaller rides, offers free classes to the public, and develops customized bicycle safety and education programs in and around New York City.

Citi Bike is a privately owned public bicycle sharing system that serves parts of New York City. It is the largest bike sharing program in the United States.[3][5] The system opened to the public in May 2013 with 330 stations and officially with 6,000 bikes, but six weeks later, the actual number in use appeared to be less than 4,300.

Ethical consumerism[edit | edit source]

Package Free, a Zero Waste pop up shop in NYC opening May 1, 2017

Food activism[edit | edit source]


City Harvest exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City, doing this through food rescue and distribution, education, and other practical, innovative solutions - New Amsterdam Market - Park Slope Food Coop, Brooklyn - Foodway at Concrete Plant Park on facebook

Improving community health through farmers' markets[edit | edit source]

Regular consumption of unhealthy foods and limited access to better options are two issues routinely affecting New York City's population. In order to address these, NYC has joined forces with the city's Department of Health, and together they have designed three key programs under their Farmers Markets strategy: Stellar Farmers Markets, Farmers Markets for Kids and Farm to Preschool.

The Stellar Farmers Markets program provides free, bilingual education workshops and cooking demonstrations and recipes at several farmers markets throughout the city, promoting the benefits of healthy eating and using locally grown, seasonal produce. As an incentive to attend the workshops, "Health Bucks" (coupons worth $2 each) are given to those participating in the National Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. These coupons can then be redeemed when buying fresh fruits and vegetables at all farmers markets across NYC.

In order to instill healthy eating habits in young consumers, NYC has two other initiatives: Farmers Markets for Kids and Farm to Preschool. The former focuses on bilingual, creative food workshops and hands-on activities, and the latter brings fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to participating New York City preschools, giving parents, staff and community members weekly access to fresh produce (which they can also pay for with Health Bucks and EBT cards). Farm to Preschool covers 11 locations across NYC, while Farmers Markets for Kids was hosted at two markets in South Bronx from July to October 2016. Stellar Farmers Markets is the largest municipal program providing access to fresh produce for low-income New Yorkers.[2]


Farmers Markets: In 1976 the Council on the Environment of New York City established the Greenmarket program, which provides regional small family farmers opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products at open-air markets in city public squares.
The Greenmarket program manages 45 markets in the five boroughs. More than 100 New York City restaurants source their ingredients from Greenmarket farmers each week; Greenmarket farmers also annually donate about 500,000 pounds of food to City Harvest and other hunger relief organizations each year.
In 2006 the City Council announced it would make farmers' markets the centerpiece of efforts to reduce hunger and increase awareness of nutrition in the city, especially in lower-income areas, and that 10 new farmers' markets would open serving low-income neighborhoods including public housing projects.
Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC) is a food cooperative located in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. It is one of the oldest and largest active food co-ops in the United States. As a food cooperative, one of its goals is to be a "buying agent to its members, not a selling agent to any industry." Non-members are welcome to visit the store, but may not shop.
Formed in 1973, PSFC has grown to include over 15,000 members. The PSFC business model requires each of its adult members to contribute 2 hours and 45 minutes of work every four weeks, and that no member share a household with a non-member. In exchange, active members may shop at the store. The store sells a variety of foods and household goods, mostly environmentally friendly products, at a 21% markup (compared to 26-100% at a supermarket). The savings are possible because labor is contributed by its members. PSFC operates as a New York state cooperative corporation.

Farmers' Market (New York City) W

Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle[edit | edit source]

Earth Matter is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the amount of organic waste that enters the garbage stream in New York City. By creating the local infrastructure needed for composting and encouraging community participation in events and education programs, the organization has gone from strength to strength over the past decade.[3]

Sharing[edit | edit source]

Maps: SolidarityNYC

Sustainable transport activism[edit | edit source]

Mare Liberum, Hacking the Free Seas Since 2007. Mare Liberum is a freeform publishing, boatbuilding and waterfront art collective, based in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, New York. Finding its roots in centuries-old stories of urban water squatters and haphazard water craft builders, Mare Liberum is a collaborative exploration of what it takes to make viable aquatic craft as an alternative to life on land. - Transportation Alternatives, advocate for bicycling, walking and public transit

Towards sustainable economies[edit | edit source]


How a series of disasters led one entrepreneur to a life of cooperatives[edit | edit source]

After a catastrophic earthquake devastated Guatemala on Feb. 4, 1976, Lorena Giron, who was just twelve years old at the time, was trapped under the rubble of her collapsed apartment for hours. She was eventually pulled out of the debris by a rescue team — but her family never made it out. "All of my siblings as well as my mother died," Giron says. "I was the only survivor." The earthquake claimed approximately 23,000 lives. It was during this time of crisis early on in her life that Giron first experienced the powerful forms of community-led relief efforts that tend to arise spontaneously during times of acute crisis — something that she would carry with her throughout her life. "I think that traumatic experiences make people stronger and more resilient," says Giron. "After the earthquake, we were completely isolated. But in that moment, despite all the losses, we all came together to move beyond that disaster."

Giron's connection to grassroots, community relief was strengthened throughout her subsequent experiences during the Guatemalan Civil War, which was a more chronic disaster that afflicted the country from 1960-1996. Giron's husband was killed in the war, which she says was politically motivated. She says she knew then that she had to leave Guatemala. She moved to the United States, eventually finding herself in New York City, New York. She was living in the Rockaways when, remarkably, she experienced yet another disaster: Hurricane Sandy. At the time Giron says she was commuting two hours a day to get to work as a domestic housekeeper. After the hurricane hit, the commute became impossible, she says, and she lost her job, leaving her unemployed for six months. But then something unexpected happened at the church that Giron attended.

As a center for community action in a heavily immigrant and low-income community, Giron's church regularly organized a number of events to address the local community's challenges, including things like health campaigns and clinics with immigration lawyers. After Hurricane Sandy hit, the church began forming partnerships with other organizations and activist groups to provide help for those affected.

"One of the first organizations that came in was Occupy Sandy," Giron says. "They came with the idea of inviting other churches into the mix and creating working groups." Occupy Sandy was a newly formed community-driven relief effort that grew out of the networks and strategies developed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. It filled a vacuum left by the official disaster response and made a significant impact in boroughs like the Rockaways and the Far Rockaways. At Giron's church, Occupy Sandy volunteers began setting up community kitchens and distributing food and supplies to those in need. What distinguished Occupy volunteers from other relief organizations was their style of relief work — it was always community-led and focused on community empowerment. "They were looking to collaborate with the community in order to provide this assistance." Giron says. "It was very beautiful to see the way that they went about it."

Occupy Sandy's slogan was "another world is possible," and their ultimate aim was to go beyond immediate disaster relief to begin addressing some of the systemic challenges afflicting the communities they worked with. It didn't take long for this broader vision to take hold of Giron and her community. Giron had been dreaming of opening up a restaurant for some time before Sandy hit, and when she shared this dream with Occupy volunteers, they sprung into action. With the support from The Working World, a local organization that builds cooperative businesses in low-income communities, they began to explore how to turn Giron's dream into reality in a way that would bring it under the framework of radical economic empowerment. In collaboration with the church, they began a twelve-week course that focused on launching a worker owned and managed cooperative. "One-hundred and fifty people showed up," Giron says. "It was exciting because I learned I wasn't alone in wanting to start a business."

Giron and her fellow church members were already accustomed to working together cooperatively in their church, so the idea of starting a cooperative business felt natural to them. "What I really liked about it was that I wouldn't be governed by any one individual, but that I would be a co-owner along with my co-collaborators," Giron says. "The thought of governing a business together in a democratic fashion was very new and exciting to me."

It wasn't long before they opened their first business: a cooperatively-owned and run bakery called La Mies Bakery in the Far Rockaways. Like a lot of new businesses, it didn't stay open for long, but for Giron, it was just the beginning of a new career in cooperative business development. "There were a lot of mistakes that we made with the bakery, and a lot of challenges that we faced where now, when I'm working with a business that is looking to start fresh, I can say, 'Oh, you know, you can avoid these pitfalls by doing such and such things.'"

Giron is now a coordinator for Worker-Owned Rockaway Cooperatives, an initiative that works to equip Far Rockaway residents with the skills and financing to launch small, worker-owned businesses that fill various needs in their community. According to the Democracy at Work Institute, Worker cooperatives have been shown to promote local economic development and to generate community wealth. In coops, profits go directly to workers instead of accumulating at the top or going to distant investors, and this makes a big difference in their impact on a community. This is especially true for underserved populations. Since most cooperatives are value-driven they tend to focus on the needs of their communities better than traditional, for-profit businesses.

Giron says the personal and community empowerment that comes with being involved in cooperatives is crucial to addressing the power imbalances that exist within the current economy. To date, her group has helped to launch four cooperatives, spanning from the sectors of construction to custom printing. There are two more in the works: a moving co-op and a childcare services co-op.

Moments of disaster and crisis often have silver linings. In this case, Hurricane Sandy awakened something in the community that had been dormant. And for Giron, the storm swept in a flood of solidarity and hope that has transformed her life for the better. "The most important thing for me has been the ability to help my community and to work with my community members," she says. "Before, when I had my prior job, I was earning money for myself and for my family, but that was only for us — that was only for me. Now with the work that I do I'm directly working with my fellow community members. And for me that's big because now I can help people to realize that their dreams don't only have to stay dreams, that they can be realized."[4]

Other initiatives

SolidarityNYC, SolidarityNYC: Transforming Our City through Economic Democracy, article from Shareable - NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative - Up and Go, platform cooperative

Urban sustainability[edit | edit source]

DoTank, collective that carried out urban interventions in and around New York City between 2009 and 2011

Reclaiming Vacant Land in New York City[edit | edit source]

In 2010, in Brooklyn, New York, Paula Segal started to gather information about a vacant space in her neighborhood. It was empty for years, collecting garbage. After some research, it appeared the vacant, fenced lot was public, and had been planned as a public park — which was never built. After several community meetings and exchanges with the municipality, Myrtle Village Green was born as a community space. It includes a research and production farm, meeting space, and an open-air cinema.

Based on this first experience, Segal and other activists wanted to find out how many such vacant public lots existed. It turned out to be 596 acres, which became the name of Segal's initiative. Over the past six years, the grassroots organization reclaimed, remixed, and opened to the crowd public data about vacant lots through its Living Lots map. The map offers information about each lot and gives an avenue to chat with neighbors interested in doing something with it. "New community gardeners are contacting us because they are using the Living Lots map to explore what city-owned land is potentially available for community gardening," says Carlos Martinez, deputy director of Green Thumb, New York's program for community gardening that emerged to support civic use of land left vacant by the city's fiscal crisis in the 1970s.

However, the true strength of 596 Acres lies not only online: The organization also puts up signs calling neighbors to seize the land for their community. And it works. It has spurred the creation of 32 community gardens on previously vacant public land mostly in underprivileged neighborhoods that lack parks and community facilities. Another reason for the success of the organization lies in the productive relationship it has with local agencies for urban gardening: "With 596 Acres, we work closely with each other, they help us to find key people who have interest to be the steward or the leader of a community garden," says Martinez. As of January, more than 848 acres of vacant public land have been plotted on the map.[5]

See also[edit | edit source]

Back to top

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.