Times Up! takes over Williamsburg lot as first garden

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Times Up! took over a vacant lot on South 5th Street in Williams­burg, just across the street from its South 6th Street head­quar­ters and in plain view of the Williams­burg Bridge.

We just walked in,” said Ben­jam­in Shep­ard, an orga­niz­er with the city’s grass­roots envi­ron­men­tal group.

Com­mu­ni­ty gar­dens are a big part of the group’s his­to­ry. At the end of the late ‘90s Giu­liani peri­od, Times Up! took part in orga­niz­ing direct actions to pre­serve hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ty gar­dens that sud­den­ly went on the mar­ket. At that point, twen­ty-year-old leas­es given to gar­den­ers in the 1970s, when guer­ril­la gar­den­ers took over aban­doned lots, had expired. To save the gar­dens from an admin­is­tra­tion set on turn­ing the spaces over to devel­op­ers, activists, from Times Up! and else­where, used var­i­ous tac­tics includ­ing wear­ing flow­er head dress­es and chain­ing them­selves to gar­dens.

But in its twen­ty-five years of action, Times Up! has nev­er had its own com­mu­ni­ty gar­den.

Times Up! has been about pub­lic space, defend­ing pub­lic space for a long, long time,” said Shep­ard. “And cre­at­ing a gar­den is just anoth­er step in that process.”

Gothamist report­ed that the city plans on leas­ing the lot out for an afford­able hous­ing project in the near future. Hence the name of the gar­den, “Noth­ing Yet Com­mu­ni­ty Gar­den.”

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