Sometimes enacting change can be accomplished with something as simple as a sign, and that's exactly what the folks over at 596 Acres are banking on. The organization has already labeled many publicly-owned vacant lots in Brooklyn with stylish flow charts and city contact info illustrating what can be done with the land, and is now gearing up to do so in Manhattan and Queens too. The signage makes it easier for neighbors to start projects such as gardens or farms on the empty plots, which they may not have realized were even public. Check the pictures after the jump to see how effective and inspiring good graphic design can be!
596 Acres, named after the amount of land owned by the public in Brooklyn, is made up of unpaid NYC volunteers who help residents communicate with the city’s Greenthumb office to turn lots into beautiful gardens. 596acres.org also supplies an interactive mapping tool so that residents in any given neighborhood can begin organizing online around certain reclaiming initiatives.
Earlier this August, the group finished collecting the data and creating online maps for Manhattan and Queens – and this past week they laboriously labeled lots in the Rockaways with their informational graphics. The Rockaways have a unique history as a vacation spot for the rich and famous, but now, after decades of urban renewal that led to urban blight, this slender island under Brooklyn is home to most of the vacant land in Queens.
In their one year of organizing, 596 has already helped to jumpstart 6 new garden spaces in Brooklyn and many others are currently being organized by residents who have connected through the 596 Acres website. They hope that their efforts in the Rockaways will spur the same community activism and land beautification. The 596 Acres facebook page lists a bunch of labeling and speaker events that the public is invited to participate in.