Trish Anderson and Maureen Walsh, of Domestic Construction (a design studio), live across India Street from the lot and have spear-headed the design.plot effort to create a community space with the lot for agricultural, educational, artistic and community endeavors.
A recent Greenpoint Gazette article chronicled the duos’ efforts to save the space from becoming a parking lot, by leasing the lot and hoping that it could be made into a community garden.
The space is located on the stretch of McGuinness Boulevard above the split off from the Pulaski Bridge, making a quieter and more secluded area than further south. But with the bridge to the west, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to the east, and Newtown Creek to the north, having a little oasis of green community space might mean no small amount of respite from urban pressures.
I exchanged some emails with the ladies from design.plot, who were more than eager to tell the tale.
Q. How long have you been in Greenpoint, and why is this effort important to the neighborhood?
A: We have both lived and worked in Greenpoint for about 5 years. We are both transplants. Maureen’s from Ohio and I’m from Georgia. As many people can relate, we have been living and working in an area but felt a disconnect with the amazing community that surrounded us. One thing we always missed about our lives before Brooklyn was open green space. We missed the opportunity to get dirty. When the lot entered our lives we knew we needed to save it so that all Greenpointers could have a space to explore and learn from nature.
Q. What other Greenpoint/NYC (or other) organizations have been supportive of design.plot? Have you been in contact with local groups that could use the produce?
A: We are in talks with several organizations that are in full support of the project. We are also open to any others that would want to get involved. We want to give away the food that is grown to whomever needs it. This isn’t a money making venture. We are just very passionate about building something beautiful and educational for our community to experience. We have a network of growers and farmers with shovels ready and willing to make this happen once design.plot is funded.
Q. Are there any large/corporate donors?
A: Not yet! But for us that is why the Kickstarter platform has been so inspiring. It has been amazing to meet people that support and believe in the project. The idea of design.plot being funded little by little only solidifies the sense of community that we desire.
Q. Has there been any resistance from the space’s owner? Or are they supportive?
A: Our landlord is in full support of the project. He was only turning it into a concrete lot because frankly that is the normal thing to do on an industrial street in Brooklyn. Our neighbors (which are all auto shops and metal scrap yards) are in complete support as well. We are the only artists on the block so we stand out a bit but we have never met so many friendly and open people.
Q. What kind of film screenings do you have in mind? Have any organizations/artists expressed interest? Do you also foresee the space as a music venue?
A: For October we are in talks with thegreenhorns to have a screening of their documentary [The Greenhorns]. We plan to have plans to have fully curated outdoor exhibitions. We have a ton of talented artist friends excited about the possibility of an alternative to the typical Gallery space. We hope this interest keeps growing and growing, We imagine a multitude of different performances. As long as they are positive and can serve as a respectful meeting ground.
Q. Why the August 24th deadline? Is this because the owner wants to sell NOW? Or because the project wants to beat the cold Winter? Both?
A: We are working against the clock! The lot fell in our lap just after prime planting season. We want to be able to use this fall and winter to prepare for next spring.