The Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute recently announced the expansion of Neighborhoods Now, a COVID-19 response initiative that connects hard-hit neighborhoods with coalitions of architects, designers, engineers, lawyers and planners.
Among the nonprofits involved is Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, which will lead community working groups in the south Bronx from February to June. Its goal is to convert underutilized outdoor spaces as sites for local programming and cultural revitalization. The Forum and Van Alen have granted each partner $10,000 to implement these strategies and will provide additional fundraising support as funds become available.
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association will reactivate community gardens in Longwood, Hunts Point, Morrisania and Mott Haven, allowing for safe outdoor activities and services that address neighborhood needs. Banana Kelly is joined by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (landscape architecture), The Greenest Fern (sustainable design) and BD Felíz (graphic design).
“In the south Bronx, community gardens are some of the most important assets we have in the fight against dire health disparities that unfairly burden the low-income communities of color we serve,” said Ian Gray-Stack, director of community organizing, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association. “With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this fight is more important than ever, which is why Banana Kelly is excited to participate in Neighborhoods Now to develop resident power by safely reactivating our garden spaces through infrastructure improvements and community organizing.”