This presentation will describe a cooperative effort of non-profit open space and environmental organizations, City, state and federal agencies and corporations that produced an interactive mapping and data analysis application Via the Internet to enhance the stewardship of open space in New York City. A linchpin of this cooperative is a Project supported by Esri staff to train teachers, community gardeners and representatives of community-based Organizations in the use of ArcExplorer and Excel. Community residents now have access to the tools to make informed decisions about community development supported by data collected and displayed on self-produced GIS maps.
The Open Accessible Space Information Systems Cooperative (OASIS), a cooperative effort of non-profit open space and environmental organizations, city, state and federal agencies and corporations produced an interactive mapping and data analysis application via the Internet to enhance the stewardship of open space in New York City. This web site includes all open space and environmental information available in digitized form that can be displayed on computer-generated maps. Since March 2001, community residents have had access to the tools to make informed decisions about community development supported by data collected and displayed on self-produced GIS maps.
The site includes new aerial photo-images of the entire five boroughs provided by the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DOITT) through the City's NYC Basemap, as well as detailed land use data for each tax parcel in New York. The OASIS web site was designed and is hosted by NYPIRG's Community Mapping Assistance Project (CMAP) . The OASIS web site can be viewed at www.oasisnyc.net .
A second related site is CENYC's Open Space Greening Program's New York City Community Garden Mapping Project (CGMP) web site. The CGMP has been a partner in OASIS from the beginning of the OASIS project in spring of 2000. We contributed the data on community gardens, which we compiled from the GreenThumb database and other sources. The CGMP web site highlights community gardens with a web page of additional information for each garden including photos and written descriptions . CMAP also designed and is hosting the CGMP web site which can be viewed at www.cenyc.org/maps/index.html .
NYC is home to over 750 community gardens that enhance quality of life and provide under-served neighborhoods with important recreational and educational opportunities. These community managed open spaces serve as de facto parkland in their communities. Many of these gardens are now threatened by efforts to reclaim the land for development for other purposes. Within the next four years, the city expects to reclaim for development the land on which over 300 community gardens are now situated. At this time, over 60 gardens are threatened with development plans.
A problem faced by gardeners was the lack of information about the gardens; exactly where they were located, what was the land status and information about garden activities and amenities. Some of the information existed but none of it was easily accessible and there were many errors in the data. The CGMP has been working for 3 years to gather all of the existing information, photos and land use data and make it available on the internet.
The CGMP web site, which includes the community gardens as well as public and private open spaces and real property data in city neighborhoods, provides critical data to community gardeners and others trying to preserve gardens and other public open spaces in neighborhoods with few amenities. With the continued threat to develop for other purposes the land on which hundreds of community gardens now exist, the data these maps provide is vital to garden preservation as well as decisions concerning community open space and other resources.
Innovative approaches need to be forged and implemented so that there is a good balance of open space and buildings in NYC. The CGMP has played a important role in the effort to save threatened community gardens by providing critical land use information to open space, environmental justice and community garden advocates.
In August of 1998 a grant from the Youth, Community Gardens and the Urban Environment Initiative of the Philanthropic Collaborative, Inc. made it possible for CENYC to begin to develop community garden maps (using a variety of NYC municipal databases; most data unverified) of all of the 59 community districts within the City's five boroughs. The maps included vacant land, vacant buildings, parks and community gardens. These data fields represented all existing open space as well as potential open space or building sites. Over 30 groups, including the Green Guerillas, Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, the Municipal Arts Society, the Brooklyn Borough President's Office, community boards in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, and numerous community garden groups, requested maps. Maps were used for a variety of open space planning and preservation efforts.
Maps were produced, printed and distributed on request or sent as e-mail attachments to those who requested maps via the Internet. The maps are based on the Bytes of the Apple, a digitized base map of New York City, which is licensed from the New York City Department of City Planning. The real property data was purchased in digitized format. Our staff created ArcView shape files from the community garden database. In the official city real property records, the community gardens are listed as vacant lots. We received a Conservation Technology Support Program software grant, which included ArcView 3.2 and ArcPress. Our map printing capability was greatly enhanced by ArcPress.
The map printing was an interim phase of the project. We continue to produce maps on request but from the beginning of the project we planned to make the maps available on the web as well. In fall of 2000 we contracted with CMAP to design and host the web site. This began a 6-month phase of web site planning, data collection and database cleanup; a much longer timeframe than we expected.
The information from the CENYC's CGMP has been available as of April 2001 as an interactive searchable map based web site powered by ArcIMS, an Esri web based mapping software. Users can access this information and utilize all of its functions with any standard browser.
Community gardens can be located on a map. You can search for a community garden by borough, community board, zip code, neighborhood, key words or garden features. Once you have located a garden you are able to access information about the gardens including land ownership, open hours, garden programs, membership and physical features. Each garden will have a written description and one or more photographs. The gardeners provided this information to New York City Department of Parks & Recreation GreenThumb, other community greening organizations and a group of gardeners who produced a printed garden directory. Some gardens have more information than others and some information may be out of date. The web site information will be updated regularly. Each page of the web site has a feedback button for web site users to easily send us updated information.
The gardens are displayed on the maps in block and lot form. Every block in New York City is numbered and each block is divided into varied sized lots that also have a number associated with it. The combination of borough, block and lot yields a unique identification number for each lot and is the basis for geocoding the data. Community gardens may encompass one or more lots. You will receive information about the particular lot that your cursor is pointed to when the identify feature is activated and you click on one of the garden lots. If the garden has multiple lots the information will be repeated for each lot. On map pages, zoom in, zoom out, pan and identify tools are available to manipulate the maps.
In some cases the garden only occupies a portion of the lot. This is particularly true where gardens are located in a park or in the case of school gardens. At this time, the garden will be displayed as the whole lot. As additional information is collected we will digitize the garden's location and display the garden in the proper location and size.
Any other lot in the city can be identified and information from the Department of Finance about zoning and ownership may be viewed. For many reasons, this information may be inaccurate. CENYC assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.
Teams of Americorps volunteers, high school students and community gardeners have been checking the maps for accuracy by measuring and taking field notes since the project's inception. CENYC has had many partners in this map verification task. Americorps volunteers from the Parks Council and The New York Restoration Project worked in communities where they provide assistance to community gardeners. A group of 26 youth from Open Road, Magnolia Tree Earth Center and CENYC's Environmental Education Program took part in a Summer Youth Mapping Project in 2000.
Thirty one youth from Fordham Bedford Children's Services, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, West 181st Street Beautification Committee, Open Road, Magnolia Tree Earth Center, CENYC's Environmental Education Program, The Brotherhood- Sister Sol and El Puente will be working in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project to field correct the maps of 6 community boards.
The Americorps teams and summer youth were trained in basic GIS map skills using ArcExplorer and received database instruction using Excel and Access. The Americorps teams and summer youth produced maps for verification on their own and were able to create database files of the map corrections for updating by our staff. The young people were part of a project that involved them in action-oriented environmental education work experiences while training them and giving them real life experience using database and GIS software.
A continuing education web design class created a web site, East Side Story based on the CGMP maps. The students added additional information about their community that was important to them as parents. We trained the group in data collection, basic map making using Arc Explorer and introduced them to the OASIS and CGMP web sites.
In the Summer Project, the participants learned how to make basic maps using the ArcExplorer GIS program, how to create Excel spreadsheets using existing databases, how to create and enter data into field verification forms and measuring skills. The youth learned problem solving and teamwork as they planned the routes they would take and how to deal with unusual situations in the field. Some of the youth became well versed in neighborhood planning issues as they saw their whole neighborhood close up in the course of their work. The youth from Open Road worked collaboratively to create a Summer Project Web Site that shows what they learned as well as some ideas that they took away with them from the Summer Project.
The experience the CGMP gained from the Summer Project taught us that it is important to limit the level of detail for the field workers to collect if you are covering a large area. In planning the work day, varied tasks make the project seem less onerous or tedious. The maps and spreadsheets are able to be made with a limited amount of training but technical support is important in case someone encounters a problem with the software or data. Having the necessary field supplies makes the data checking easier. We supplied the teams with clipboards, pencils, tape measures, water bottles, t-shirts and hats. Regular communication and feedback is also very important. We met several times with the team leaders and held several common days where all of the teams would meet in one neighborhood to share successes and failures and to meet others involved in the same work.
Many community gardeners do not own a computer, have internet access or are intimidated by technology in general. In order to make this information available to the widest audience, we are producing 110 printed maps with CMAP. One for each community board and city council district, based on maps and garden info from the web site. We are beginning to work with Community Technology Centers, libraries and community organizations to distribute maps and as training centers to give people the skills they need to effectively utilize this information.
The web site will be updated quarterly. The latest update includes additional photos, garden descriptions and details, and land use information corrections from the field verification data and feedback from the web site. A number of research projects will contribute more detailed information about specific gardens including garden designs, detailed plant lists and information about horticultural practices. The key word search feature will be improved. Web site users will have the ability to to create "what if" scenarios to envision the type and amount of open space they would like to see in their communities. Additional trainings and collaborations will expand the open space information to include street trees and other data collected by neighborhood volunteers. We are advising projects in other cities including Buffalo, Boston and Baltimore who are interested in surveying community gardens and open space in those cities and creating web sites.
Updated maps and data will better support efforts to preserve and expand the number of gardens and other open spaces in the city and highlight their positive contribution to the social and environmental fabric of the city. The information produced by this project will help inform policy makers, elected officials and the general public of the importance of these community resources to the quality of life and the environment in NYC.
The web based and printed maps are an important information tool for making informed decisions about community gardens and other open space issues. The OASIS and Community Garden Mapping Project web sites are for urban planners, Community Boards, community gardeners, elected officials, and others interested in open space issues as they plan and research their communities. In addition to being used to help preserve community gardens, these tools can be used to assist in neighborhood open space planning. Researchers will be able to use this baseline data for research projects on community gardens and open space. The web site provides a practical use for the data collected and will enhance the information available on the web site. Community residents who may not otherwise have access to these skills and information are learning mapping and database software. Planners in other cities will be able to learn from what we have produced and create similar projects.
This project would not have be accomplished without the support of many partners. community gardeners, other volunteers, community greening and environmental organizations, city, state and federal agencies, corporations and foundations have all played a role in the New York City Community Garden Mapping Project.
GreenThumb has supplied us with the database of GreenThumb gardens, photographs, field collected data and assistance with data verification.
Open Road helped to develop the Summer Youth Mapping project, field corrected Manhattan Community Board 3, is a lead partner in developing a project to train youth and adults in GIS mapping skills and hosted GIS Day 2000 activities at East Side Community High school. Open Road is working with Brotherhood/Sister Sol and El Puente on the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project to field correct Community Board 9 in Manhattan and Community Board 1 in Brooklyn.
Magnolia Tree Earth Center was a partner in the 2000 Summer Youth Mapping project and the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project and field corrected Brooklyn Community Board 3.
Parks Council's Americorps Teams developed a project to add community facility information to the database and field corrected Bronx Community Board 1.
New York Restoration Project's Americorps Teams field corrected Brooklyn Community Boards 4 and 16 and Bronx Community Board 2.
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance was an original project partner and helped to develop the concept for the project.
New York City Community Garden Coalition was an original project partner and helped to develop the concept for the project.
CMAP developed the OASIS and CGMP web sites and is a partner in the project to produce printed maps of the community gardens.
Esri provided technical assistance, assisted with the training for the Summer Youth Mapping project and was a major sponsor of GIS day 2000.
CENYC's Environmental Education Program's Training Student Organizer students field corrected Bronx Community Board 3 in the 2000 Summer Youth Mapping Project and Brooklyn Community Board 6 in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project.
Fordham Bedford Children's Services is a community partner in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project and youth in their program are field correcting Bronx Community Board 7.
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition is a community partner in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project and youth in their program are field correcting Bronx Community Board 5.
West 181st Street Beautification Committee is a community partner in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project and youth in their program are field correcting Manhattan Community Board 12.
The Brotherhood- Sister Sol is a community partner in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project and youth in their program are field correcting Manhattan Community Board 9 in collaboration with Open Road.
El Puente is a community partner in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project and youth in their program are field correcting Brooklyn Community Board 1 in collaboration with Open Road.
Youth, Community Gardens and Urban Environment Initiative of the Philanthropic Collaborative, Inc was the founding supporter of the project, supported the development of the web site and the production of printed maps.
Levitt Foundation supported the 2000 and 2001 Summer Youth Mapping projects.
Open Accessible Space Information System (OASIS) is a cooperative effort of non-profit open space and environmental organizations, city, state and federal agencies, and corporations that helped to secure additional funding for the project and in-kind support.
Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation provided ongoing support and matching funds for the project.
Urban Resources Partnership funded a project to train youth and adults in GIS mapping skills.
The Conservation Technology Support Program granted the project a GIS software package.
The Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), formed in 1970 is a privately funded citizens' organization in the Office of the Mayor. CENYC promotes environmental awareness among New Yorkers and develops solutions to environmental problems .Through four programs- Greenmarket, Open Space Greening, Waste Prevention and Recycling, Environmental Education- and special projects, we engage individual New Yorkers and whole communities in environmental initiatives that make New York a better, cleaner, more humane place to live. CENYC is a founding partner of the CGMP and OASIS and is the project coordinator of the CGMP.