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Liz Christy Garden: It's Rare When Mark and I are on the SamePage, But.....

  • Subject: [cg] Liz Christy Garden: It's Rare When Mark and I are on the SamePage, But.....
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 23:29:11 EST


I love Mark Leger but it's rare when we are on anywhere near the same page,
but on Green Guerillas and Liz Christy we seem to be in a degree of agreement.
From our differing  directions, of course....;)

Please understand that I loved Liz Christy, the person, and the physical
transformation that has taken place there since our early days as Green
on that site.

The garden is lovely, and the iconic ground zero of the 1970's American
Community Garden Movement in NYC. ( Earlier gardens in Boston, Minnesota and
Wisconsin have 1960's founder honors - and there are a few that were 1940s era
Victory gardens that never closed.)

That said, the Liz Christy Garden is loved and seen as iconic by so many
community gardeners.

Talking out of school: Heres the real politics of what's going on with the
Liz Christy Garden and quite frankly, it sucks.

The Liz Christy gardeners have been pretty unreasonable with many of their
demands and have put Parks and Parks Greenthumb in a very awkward position,
because Parks has to protect the garden under the settlement.  And it is
clear that Green Thumb will not issue a construction permit without gardener

If the Liz Christy gardeners, as bolstered by Green Guerillas (which seems to
have it's own private agenda as a non governmenal organization) continues ot
act in an unreasonable fashion, there is a great likelihood that Parks will
end up being sued by the developer - or the developer, and it being an
year, will pressure the Mayor to pressure the Commissioner.

This is the real world. And our gardens have to exist in the real world.

And I really shouldn't give a damn about a garden that has been continually
skimpy on open hours and not friendly to general passsers-by for years,
according to reports I have gotten for years from gardeners touring LES
gardens from
around town, out of town and abroad, my late nurse wife who did visiting nurse
work with seniors in the neigborhood ( who adored the turtles, by the way
when they grudgingly deigned to let her in) and my own experiences over 25
with the place.

Not smart - and chickens come to roost.

Now when this developer gets his way  (which they tend to do in the real
world) this chap is going to be a VERY UNFRIENDLY NEIGHBOR.  And this is a
unfriendly politically connected neigbhor.

This is just plain impractical.

Now Green Guerillas is behaving very irresponsibly as a non governmental
organization and is backing the twelve or so active gardeners in the place
everyone, including NY Parks Greenthumb, fer chrissakes.

This is downright stupid.

How I see it: Greenthumb is out there,  with minimal staff,  trying to glean
the best for NYC gardeners out of the Attorney General's Community Garden
Settlement and providing real technical assistance, trucks plants and
to gardeners who are prodominantly in communities of color.

Last time I saw the gardeners at Liz Christy, I saw that they were a bunch of
superannuated, highly educated,  old white ex-hippies like me, or those
strange folks who want to be.  Some are crackerjack gardeners.  But they
predominantly gardening for food like the folks of color are - and that's

The obstructive litigation  of the Green Guerilla Board on this one ( and I
don't mean real gardeners like Jane Weissman) in their current law suit  for
Liz Christy gardeners is downright irresponsible.

And ultimately of little utility in terms of case law or precedent to dozens
of community gardens in communities of color throughout Harlem, Brooklyn and
the Bronx... where Green Guerillas should be expending their NGO dollars, and
maybe, just maybe answering a few phone calls.

Now maybe, obstructionism is what Green Guerillas is best at, instead of
working for real world solutions, but we all have to make that occasional

Instead of gazing at its navel -Green Guerillas needs to look at the real
world for a change.  And maybe do some real work instead of indulging in
knee-jerk intransigence.

Adam Honigman


  It really doesn't
matter, but when the developer finally gets his way (which they tend to
do) he is going to be a VERY unfriendly neighbor.  Just not practical.
And the gardeners are definately pretty skimpy on hours and not very
friendly to general passers by according to reports I have received for
years.  GreenGuerillas are playing a very contentious role here too,
backing the gardeners vs. everyone (including us).  Maybe you could
intercede with some of their board members to get them to back off a bit
and try to play a more diplomatic role.

> Subj: Re: [tb-cybergardens]: Re: Liz Christy et al
>  Date: 1/12/05 7:04:30 PM Mid-Atlantic Standard Time
>  From: m_leger@earthlink.net
>  Reply-to: cybergardens@treebranch.com
>  To: cybergardens@treebranch.com
>  Sent from the Internet
> News from the tb-cybergardens mailing  list
> -------------------------------------------------
> Hi,
> As an activist, I believe in using all the tools in the box. I appreciate
> the fact that the Liz Christy Garden/Green Guerillas *might* be in the
> of a lawsuit. But that doesn't necessarily preclude other forms of public
> communication and activism.
> The sad fact of the matter is the Green Guerillas always seem to be in the
> middle of a lawsuit that supposedly prevents them from directly engaging in
> other forms of advocacy. They kept out of the fray in 1999, when 115 gardens
> were threatened, because of a lawsuit. Later on they had that other lawsuit
> they were working on with the AG-- Susan Howard, you can give details.
> you working with them on that? And now this.
> I realize that I'm being inflammatory. But I want to be clear that I'm not
> flaming the gardeners of Liz Christy. I'm trying to a:
> 1. maybe get some action out a moribund old dog
> 2. raise a general point about NGO accountability as it relates specifically
> to our movement
> 3. frankly, make public a discussion that has been way too private for at
> least six years, if not longer
> I hear what you're saying about gardeners leading the struggle for their own
> garden. And I agree up to a point. But ultimately, I think community gardens
> are collective/civic/common resources. And when a garden is
> floundering--because community organizing isn't the forte of their founders,
or because their
> members are being possessive, or because the garden is being steered by an
> organization with a conflicting agenda--I think it's fine to others to step
> and ask the hard questions. I know I probably differ from some of my
> colleagues on this.
> >The one thing I've noticed in
> >many of the newcomers here is a sense of entitlement (speaking of
> >entitlement): it comes with race and class priviledge.
> Kathleen, do you mean newcomers to your neighborhood, or newcomers to this
> list? If you mean the latter, it is true that I've kept a low profile
> But I've been active in garden defense for years in groups like the Brooklyn
> Alliance of Neighborhood Gardens, the Lower East Side Collective Public
> Group, The NYC Community Garden Coalition, and in my local community garden,
> the mighty Garden of Union in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which I've been a member
> of for 15 years at this point. I used to be one of the most frequent, and
> one of the thorniest contributors to this list. But like I said, I've been
> paying attention to other parts of my life recently. But I had to jump on
> bandwagon with this one.
> The Liz Christy holds a special place in the hearts of gardeners all over
> the city. We have to do what we can to save it. And IMO, it means provoking
> some real activism out of the organization that carries its heritage.
> In solidarity,
> Mark

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