Notes toward an Introduction: Friendship as a Way of Life



In late August 2012, I received an email from Wendy Brawer, a New York environmental activist and the global director of Green Map System, announcing a plan for a guerilla gardening action in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The action was planned to take place at 181 Stanton Street, which had been listed on 596 Acres’ list of vacant lots in New York City. In the Lower East Side, 181 Stanton Street was one of the last vacant lots that could be turned into a garden. On Sunday August 19, I met a group of activists, including many of my friends, standing outside a fence in front of 181 Stanton Street. There they held clipboards with petitions, asking people if they wanted a new community garden. Those walking by enthusiastically supported their efforts. The group dismantled a fence at the entrance, and we all walked inside the dirty lot. inside, my daughters and I joined a half-dozen members of the Time’s Up! Gardening Committee as well as other neighborhood members. We spent the afternoon digging, cleaning, throwing away trash, and finally planting a few flowers. By the end of the afternoon, the vacant lot had been transformed into a community space (Segel, 2012). Within a few weeks, many of the 250 people who signed the petition in favor of a new community garden swayed the Parks and Recreation Committee of Community Board Three to pass a resolution of support for a green-thumb lease for the garden, now dubbed Siempre Verde.


Social Capital York City Social Movement Harm Reduction Community Garden 
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© Benjamin Shepard 2015

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