Do-It-Yourself Urbanism as an Environmental Justice Strategy

The Case of Time’s Up!, 1987–2012


As Keegan Stephan described in the previous chapter, Time’s Up! is a New York City environmental group that promotes nonpolluting transportation as a model of sustainable urbanism. Over the last 25 years, the group has taken a do-it-yourself approach to environmental activism, bridging neighborhood, global justice, and Occupy movements. With roots in the squatter movement in New York City, Time’s Up! has built its own distinct brand of do-it-yourself urbanism to fight for community gardens, support group bike rides, and create sustainable approaches to urban living. While the group makes use of a wide range of approaches to reclaim public space, direct action is its guiding principle. For nearly a decade, this was one of my favorite groups in New York City activism. We painted signs and decorated banners at every meeting. In my ten years with Time’s Up’, the group linked social networks with alternative approaches to community building, bridging affinities among an ever-expanding tribe of activism. Fueled by friendships rather than institutional ties, the group is part of a lineage of Lower East Side direct action groups that represent a sort of extended family. In my years with the group, from 2004–14, it functioned as a tribe of activists who worked best in the streets, using direct action to fashion a belter city in the here and now. Yet were friendships enough to fuel such efforts? And what are the lessons about capacity, leadership, sustainability, betrayal, and alliances within the story of such a group? These are questions explored throughout this chapter.


Public Space Community Garden Bike Ride Sustainable Urbanism Global Justice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Benjamin Shepard 2015

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations