"No Vacancy: Unleashing the Potential of Empty Urban Land"

"Tia Jackson’s family has lived on the same block of Halsey Street in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood for five generations. Kristen Rapp is a newcomer. Jackson is black. Rapp is white. In a part of town where the gentrification process has been grinding along painfully for years, the two might never have met if not for a sign on a fence on a vacant lot, left there by the members of a group called 596 Acres."

"Now Jackson and Rapp have keys that let them into that vacant lot at 462 Halsey. They are shoveling dirt and planting seeds. Together with a dedicated group of neighborhood residents, they are turning an abandoned scrap of urban soil into a garden.

The sign that brought them together was part of a project to identify and map all city-owned vacant lots in Brooklyn, which add up to a mind-blowing — you guessed it — 596 acres in total area. To give you some perspective, Prospect Park, the borough’s largest, is 585 acres. In a city where real estate is an obsession (or a cult?) the idea of so much land sitting vacant is kind of astonishing."

Sarah Goodyear reports for Grist March 27, 2012.

Source: Grist, 03/29/2012