- Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg City Hall New York, NY 10007
24 January 2002
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
My name is Cindy Rosenthal. I write about theatre and performance in New York City and I'm an Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at Hofstra University. I'm contacting you to learn your position on community garden preservation, on community-based planning, and on the status and future of open green space in New York City. I'm currently finishing an article for the performance studies journal, TDR: The Drama Review, on a series of community-based performances presented in gardens throughout three boroughs of the city last year, which centered on the plight of community gardeners in New York City. The primary goal of common green/common ground, a collaborative creative effort of garden activists, New York University students, and theatre artists, was to tell gardeners' stories in order to raise awareness and, ultimately, effect policy change. Saving/preserving gardens was the theme, especially those under the Temporary Restraining Order, many of which are in lower-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color in the city, where access to green, open space is extremely limited.
Members of several community garden coalitions have told me they've contacted you in recent weeks, asking for support for gardens that are at high risk now. Some activists have expressed hope and optimism because of your views on human rights and health issues. They believe you will be receptive to gardeners' goals and programs and willing to work with communities regarding planning and land use. However, plans for the gardens under the Temporary Restraining Order (how long the order will be in place, for instance) and your stand on issues related to urban open green space, community-based planning, and garden preservation remain unclear.
TDR's readers are interested in hearing from you with regard to your position on community gardens in New York City. I am especially interested in your response to the following questions, which are of particular concern to those in the community gardens movement:
Would you support the development and implementation of a Community-Based Planning Process in New York City to move us from "top down" to "bottom up" planning processes? The city would direct City Planning and Operational Agencies to work with communities in researching and developing plans and would allocate funds for such planning processes.
Would you support legislation to amend the Administrative Code of the City of New York to set up a fair and equitable system for allowing communities to create new GreenThumb Community Gardens, either by granting them "park" status or by transferring them to a land trust?
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience and I thank you for your time.
Cindy Rosenthal, PhD
Contributor, The Drama Review
Assistant Professor, Theatre Studies
Hofstra University [End Page 149]
Cindy Rosenthal is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at Hofstra University. Her essays have appeared in Radical Street Performance (Routledge 1998) and in journals such as Theatre Survey and Women and Performance. Current projects include coediting an anthology, Group Theatres, with James Harding, which focuses on the work of eight radical theatre collectives of the 1960s-'70s. As a founding member of the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble, since 1986 she has conceived, performed, directed, and produced original works in Middlebury, Vermont, and Juneau, Alaska.