Right to the City


Foto: Marco Clausen


Paula Segal von 596 Acres, die im August im Rahmen des Residency-Programms der Nachbarschaftsakademie gemeinsam mit Anna Heilgemeier ein Projekt zum Thema urbane Gemeingüter durchführen wird, wird in „Fortune“ als eines der Gesichter von New Yorks massivem Wandel im 21. Jahrhundert porträtiert. Quelle: DW Gibson, The faces of New York City’s massive 21st-century transformation (in: Fortune, 17.7.2015). Sie beschreibt, wie sie in ihrer Nachbarschaft Menchen auf die Existenz von Flächen in öffentlichem Eigentum aufmerksam gemacht hat und dies durch Selbstorganisation zum Aufbau eines Gemeinschaftsgartens geführt hat. Es gehe vor allem darum, sagt sie, was Menschen tatsächlich bewirken können und wie sie die Möglichkeit erhalten, ihre eigene Nachbarschaft zu gestalten.

Occupation: Executive Director & Legal Director of the NYC Community Land Access Program (596 Acres)
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

I talked to the old dudes on my block and asked what was up with the lot, and asked everybody else what was up with the lot. Eventually a lot of people had a lot of shards of a story of all these broken promises and a press conference that had happened ten years before. So I called a community meeting at the local school. Passed out flyers, worked with local organizations. A lot of people came, a hundred or so. It was pretty amazing. There was still a lot of pent up anger about a half-a-million-dollar project that never happened. There were a lot of people that had a lot of feelings about that big hole in their neighborhood.

And now it’s a big beautiful community garden and park called Myrtle Village Green. We’ve been open about a year. It’s a garden and there’s a dog run. People just had a wedding. Movies get shown on a wall. There’s a bunch of communal space, communal garden beds, individual beds, the kids from the elementary school have little beds that they grow—it’s just a shared space in a neighborhood that doesn’t otherwise have that.

And I got priced out of that neighborhood just before we got access. I don’t live there anymore.

It’s all about what people can actually do, right? And giving people the ability to build their own neighborhood. This is a very nerdy and direct way to take people’s rights to the city seriously and enforce them as rights. In a truly legal sense. People have the right to create their city. Especially in these spaces that are public spaces.

I really believe that people’s ability to make decisions about the spaces that they’re in is a kind of security that lets you take the next step in your life. The anxiety of having other forces making decisions for you is untenable.