Monday, February 9, 2015

Winter Bike Chill, Save the Gardens

Winter Bike Chill, Save the Gardens
Saturday, a few of us got together for a bike ride in the snow.

Divine says don't stay home and clean. Get on your bike and ride.

The Bike Chill would start at 3 PM
Forget those winter blues, put on your dancing shoes. 

Join the Public Space Party for a bike ride with dance tunes that will heat you right up. 

Wear your fabulous fuzzy freaky winter garb.

Bike Ride: Meet us at 3pm for the bike ride at the Gaia tree in the middle of Tompkins Square Park, Lower East Side

After Party: Ride ends at 5pm for an after-party at a great Brooklyn hangout, Red Lantern, 345 Myrtle Ave. Their slogan, Ride It - Drink It - Love It.

Save the date for Public Space Party's next event, March 21st, Pedro Pietri Poetry Romp through the Lower East Side Community Gardens.

The snow streamed through the bike lanes, frozen, in the winter afternoon.  

Cyclists were already lined up at the Gaia tree in the park, ready for their pony cat ride race across the city.  Austin our old friend from Times Up was there. 

Did you bring those cops with you asked Austin, looking at the police.
No we’re too below the radar.  No one would want to surveil us.

And gradually, a few of the bike chill crowd showed up.

On your mark, get set, ride.

Jeff lent me his bike noting mine was desperately in need of repairs, everyone looking out for everyone.

And we rode and danced for the next few hours, running into the pony cat riders along the way.

At Union Square, some oddball was spewing racist bile to the group blasted him with “sick beats” and a little radical ridicule.  

“You guys should move your sound bike right up in front of him,” a few people noted, as we walked up.

The fur people, bikers, wing nuts, people laughing, and a few by standards all sharing space.  People have a right to speak out.  Others have a right to ridicule their points. And it all goes on there. Union Square is an ideal public space.

Radical ridicule at Union Square. 

Along the way, a few of us talked about the Beach Beneath the Streets, public space, and the limits of de Blasio’s housing plan including doing away with 17 community gardens.

A few of us agreed to plan a ride to a few of the proposedsites where gardens will be replaced by expensive condos and skyscrapers.  A few of us started talking about plans to ride to all the endangered gardens

“I wish you guys  could stay longer,” noted the security guard as we left.

And so we zipped down to Astor place where the cube was gone.

So we zigged back up to 13th to get my bike repaired.
“You’re going to die on this bike,” Jeff had insisted. So  he fixed it.

And we rode back to Brooklyn.

Back to red lantern for more talk about gardens and housing and organizing and romance and the police who'd followed us to red lantern.  

"Wheres the bike ride?" one asked looking around?

Back inside we made plans for banner making for the big rally / press conference to save the gardens Tuesday.

The message from Lungs:
This Tuesday morning let's rally at 9am at City Hall in support of threatened gardens,
17 Gardens are slated for development under Mayor DeBlasio's proposed plan. These gardens are in Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant. Please come out in support of our fellow gardeners.

The rally will be over by 10 am, please arrive by 8:30 am to get through security and wear colorful clothes so we will stand out in the snow, as happy reminders of the coming Spring. 

This is going to be a media event, we need numbers to show our solidarity. City Hall is a short ride for LUNGS folks, let's come together. Our proposed Community Garden District will be introduced in the City Council soon and we need to continue to pressure our electeds to do the right thing. People on the steps of City Hall sends a very clear and powerful message. Please join us!    

Below is the press release form the New york city community garden coalition who is organizing the rally: 
On Tuesday, February 10th, at 9 A.M. the NYCCGC, community members, partnering housing organizations, and various elected representatives will be rallying on the steps of city hall to protest the lack of transparency and community involvement in issuing an RFQ to developers to build affordable housing on "vacant" lots throughout the 5 boroughs.
A large number of sites listed in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s most recent RFQ for the New Infill Home Ownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP) and Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP) are disproportionally thriving, active community gardens.
Make no mistake, we are all in favor of affordable housing. Many of us would have a direct benefit from this proposal. Affordable housing and community gardens are compatible. We advocate for more gardens and more housing. We do not understand how the selection process came about and why 17 active community gardens were selected as lots to be developed. 
These community gardens were a direct result of sweat equity that neighbors used to improve their neighborhoods. And it seems undeniably wrong to destroy the very asset that makes neighborhoods livable and a place where developers subsequently seek to build.
We ask Mayor de Blasio to give all community members a place at the table to make NYC livable. In a speech this past January, he said: "We have a duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods, and we will do so."
We ask the Mayor to honor his sentiment and words.
We ask the Mayor to direct HPD to remove not just these affected community gardens but all community gardens currently in HPD jurisdiction and transfer them to Parks where they will have a measure of protected permanence.
HPD has an abundance of potential sites on which it can develop affordable housing. Less than 10% of HPD’s vacant lots contain flourishing community gardens. Given these numbers it is clear that destroying community gardens forever is not only wrong, it is patently unnecessary.
Community Gardens have for decades been an integral part of the fabric of New York City. These gardens are living symbols of unity built by neighbors who joined together to turn abandoned, trash-strewn lots into vibrant community oases. Community Gardens in the City represent a truly holistic, resilient, cost-effective neighborhood-based source of sustainable food production, increasing people’s access to locally grown fresh produce, while negating effects of climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
Open, vacant lots should be prioritized as buildable over those with active uses such as community gardens. The Mayor should pursue policies to permanently protect every community garden while at the same time creating affordable housing units in New York City for our children and future generations.

That night we watched an old favorite, the first film I ever saw back in 1975. 

Sunday, the winter chill continued as we walked out of the subway from Brooklyn, strolling to to Judson, hanging in West Village and up to meet grand mom at the met, looking at manuscripts and antiquities, comparing manuscripts and messages through time.  Mom’s teaching her students about the crusades, maybe for the last time.  So we strolled together as she shared her ideas with her grand kids. She recalled her trips to through the Khyber Pass and to Persepolis, just like the movie.

We talked about the Morgan Leaf, from the Winchester Bible, comparing it with the Chi Rho page from the Book of Kells we’d seen in Dublin.

And we paid homage to St James, whose story inspired generations through a pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, the way of St. James.  We'll continue a month on the trail this summer. 

And we made our way back to the LES for a tour of the majestic gardens, with their art, murals, messages and gestures of  random kindness.  

Surveyed murals by a child lost before her time, her messages splashing against the winter panorama of the ever evolving lower east side.

We smiled to see Yonah Shcimmel Knish Bakery still open, for now, in this quiet Sunday.  Word on the street is it will soon close its doors. 

And surveyed the old and new of the city in a dance of the dialectic together moving through time. 

At Judson, we asked  "the gardener's question, when is the right time to plant a seed?”  The answer every day in the city, in every community garden all year long. Smart sustainable cities need more seeds, moreideas, more gardens, more peas, more places for irrigation, more nourishment for our fragile planet and people.

The kids sang a song by the Kinks at Judson, a lovely song about some of our collective striving.

Here's wishing you the bluest sky,
And hoping something better comes tomorrow.
Hoping all the verses rhyme,
And the very best of choruses to
Follow all the doubt and sadness.
I know that better things are on the way.

Here's hoping all the days ahead
Won't be as bitter as the ones behind you.
Be an optimist instead,
And somehow happiness will find you.
Forget what happened yesterday,
I know that better things are on the way.

It's really good to see you rocking out
And having fun,
Living like you just begun.
Accept your life and what it brings.
I hope tomorrow you'll find better things.
I know tomorrow you'll find better things.

Here's wishing you the bluest sky,
And hoping something better comes tomorrow.
Hoping all the verses rhyme,
And the very best of choruses to
Follow all the drudge and sadness.
I know that better things are on the way.

I know you've got a lot of good things happening up ahead.
The past is gone it's all been said.
So here's to what the future brings,
I know tomorrow you'll find better things.
I know tomorrow you'll find better things.

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