Mobile Workshops

New York Metro Area

A hallmark of all Planners Network conferences are a series of dynamic mobile workshops. Beyond Resilience: Actions for a Just Metropolis is proud to continue this tradition on the first full day of the conference, Friday, June 7th. Unlike many other conferences where "tours" are expensive add-ons, these mobile workshops are included in the cost of a full conference registration.* They provide a unique way of engaging with many of the pertinent issues in the region, through face to face engagement with the residents, organizations and agencies in the neighborhoods and communities themselves. We have made a particular effort to craft workshops that are not only diverse in terms of subject matter but geography as well, giving participants the opportunity to see portions of the New York City metro affected not only by Hurricane Sandy, but by continuing crisis.

Basic Details

  • All workshops take place concurrently, so you will be asked to rank your top three choices on the registration form.
  • As the conference date approaches, you will be contacted with a meeting place and time. You must arrive promptly, and if are not sure how to get to the meeting place, please contact the conference organizers.
  • Each workshop will break for lunch at local eateries. Please bring cash and be prepared to sample great New York City restaurants!
  • All itineraries are subject to change.

Meeting times and locations:

Atlantic Yards Report Blog

Downtown Brooklyn

Over the past 70 years Downtown Brooklyn has displayed remarkable resilience, surviving a long history of public and corporate disinvestment to emerge as the 3rd most profitable shopping district in New York City. This success is in large part due to the commitment of African-American and immigrant-owned businesses, and the multi-generational embrace of the area’s public spaces for socializing. Rather than build off of these strengths, city officials have repeatedly targeted the area for large-scale re-development projects that have failed to deliver benefits to existing users. At the height of the real estate boom in the early 2000s city planners ushered through two large scale initiatives: The Downtown Brooklyn Plan, a 20-block rezoning authored by local property owners, dramatically inflated real estate values overnight and is transforming the commercial core into an upscale residential neighborhood. The Adjacent Atlantic Yards mega-development is channeling billions of dollars of public subsidies to a single development firm, Forest City Ratner, that has made unenforceable commitments to affordable housing and quality jobs for local residents that have yet to materialize. 

This mobile workshop is a follow-up to Thursday night’s screening of My Brooklyn and will address race and class in planning, public approval processes, community benefits negotiations, recapturing public investment for the needs of existing communities, retail gentrification, historic preservation of social space, and state capitulation to private development interests. Join journalist and tour guide Norman Oder, author of Atlantic Yards Report watchdog blog, for a critical up-to-the-minute look at the Atlantic Yards development, and members of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) for a tour and discussion of their recent victories and ongoing sites of struggle in Downtown Brooklyn. 

By @jakedobkin

Brooklyn Waterfront: Working Waterfront Bike Tour

Please have some bike experience.

This tour requires a $30 fee to pay for bike rental and tour.

Despite widespread conversion to residential uses and a massive rezoning in 2005 that transformed much of North Brooklyn’s waterfront in 2005, manufacturing persists along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront.

Manufacturing sits cheek-to-jowl with gentrifying neighborhoods, public housing developments, a new Brooklyn-Queens Greenway, and some of the only public access points along the East River. This tour will focus on innovative policy and mission-driven non-profit industrial development that preserves industrial land and tries to create new manufacturing jobs. We’ll start out in DUMBO, ride to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and stop there for a guided tour of the industrial park which houses over 275 businesses. (Moderately-priced lunch is available at the Navy Yard’s new “localvore” restaurant.) We’ll pick up after lunch and head north along the new bike path to the Williamsburg waterfront, with a stop at the Greenpoint Manufacturing Design Center, a haven for small manufacturers experiencing displacement from former industrial areas.

Community Voices Heard

East Harlem, Manhattan: Gentrification and Planning in El Barrio/East Harlem

El Barrio/ East Harlem is one of the longest-standing Latino neighborhoods in New York City, and is an international center of art as well as social struggle. The neighborhood abuts one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city- the Upper East Side- and as a result has been subject to the pressures of gentrification. It was a site of intense speculation by "predatory equity" investors during the housing bubble, and has been the cite of struggles over housing rights, environmental justice, participatory budgeting and more. This mobile workshop will include a conversation with leaders of the neighborhood's Community Board (the most local form of government in New York City), lunch at a local restaurant, a tour of the neighborhood highlighting both cultural landmarks and sites of struggle, and a discussion with Community Voices Heard, one of the leading city-wide organizations fighting for economic, social and racial justice.

Queens Examiner

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens: Urban Renewal in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The biggest park in the city's most diverse county is currently being threatened by both public and private forces that aim to build private attractions over large segments of the park. Plans for privatization and alienation include: the creation of a professional soccer stadium, in part over the park's current public soccer fields; an expansion of the tennis arena, which already takes up a large portion of the park; and the placement of a shopping mall on park land, spilling over from a neighboring "urban renewal" project. The communities that use the park are fighting back and resisting these plans, and actively defending their right to adequate and well maintained public open spaces.

This mobile workshop will be lead by the Fairness Coalition of Queens, the primary group of organizations, churches, small businesses and individuals working together to oppose privatization and land grabs in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. Planners Network members will be lead through a surrounding commercial area to get a feel for the population and places dependent on the park, and then will walk through the park and see the areas designated for privatization. Themes will include the lack of maintenance and support for working class parks, the dearth of active public spaces for new immigrant communities, and the pitfalls of stadium-based development agendas. There will be a discussion of tactics and strategies for protecting parks in working class and new immigrant neighborhoods. The group will also discuss alternative ideas for the development sites.

A break for lunch will allow participants to sample delicious and relatively inexpensive options abound in the neighborhoods surrounding Flushing Meadows Corona Park.


Orange, NJ: Envision the Heart of Orange

Orange NJ is a working class, majority minority city in Essex County, NJ. It has a long history, and the great changes that have affected the American city can easily be identified in Orange's 2.2 square miles.  Orange is located on the Morris Essex train line, 30 minutes from New York Penn Station.

The University of Orange, a free people's university, has the mission of being an "urbanism university," committed to lifelong learning, civic engagement and community development. The UofO will be holding its 5th Annual Placemaking conference Friday, June 7, 2013.  It is called "Envisioning the Heart of Orange." We will discuss the Heart of Orange plan ( that the University of Orange developed for the local community development corporation, HANDS, Inc., and which has been approved by the state of New Jersey Neighborhood Tax Credit Revitalization Program. We will walk around the Heart of Orange, which has seen some important new developments since the plan was first developed. Then we will hear from Michel Cantal-Dupart, the renowned French urbanist who helped conceptualize the Heart of Orange plan. Based on our review of the plan, updates from our walk in the area, the comments from Cantal-Dupart, we will envision next steps for HANDS (physical environment) and the University of Orange (social environment).

In the evening, the University of Orange will host a party for the launch of Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities, by Mindy Fullilove, which features the story of Orange.

Rockaways, Queens: After Sandy: Planning Beyond Resilience

Guided by community-based organizations and advocacy groups in Rockaways (Queens), this full-day workshop will visit areas affected by the superstorm and talk with residents and community organizers about strategies and tactics for addressing longstanding questions of inequality and imbalances in political power. Issues include real estate speculation, inadequate infrastructure, the preservation of public housing, youth involvement, and the planning and decision-making processes. Attendees will meet in Brooklyn and travel to the Rockaways via the subway. We will eat lunch during the session in the Rockaways.


South Bronx: Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance

Please bring good walking shoes, portable snacks, water, and a Metrocard.

Time: 10:00 am to approximately 1:00 pm.

The Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA) is a coalition of seven community-basedand citywide organizations[1] whose mission is to implement a transportation and land-use plan in the Sheridan Expressway corridor guided by principles of environmental and social justice. Through a process facilitated by SBRWA, local community stakeholders have developed what we call “The Community Plan” to reduce truck traffic on local streets, minimize the hazardous air quality of the South Bronx, and create sustainable urban green space in the Southern Bronx River watershed, with the goals of creating a safer community and catalyzing more equitable economic development. The Community Plan includes removing the Sheridan Expressway;redesigning the local transportation network; increasing waterfront access to the Bronx River and the new parks being developed on its banks; and developing new affordable housing, commercial and community space. Based on these basic guiding principles for the redevelopment of the Bronx River waterfront, the Community Plan also includes a transportation plan to directly connect the Bruckner Expressway to the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, a significant fix to network connectivity and a precursor to many of these other elements.

We will begin with an hour-long presentation and discussion at the office of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ), a SBRWA member organization based in the Bronx River neighborhood that abuts the Sheridan Expressway and the river itself.  From there participants will begin a two-hour guided walking tour, that will span the entire length of the Sheridan (1.25miles) highlighting the challenges faced by the communities living with this Robert Moses-era “highway to nowhere”. The tour will also showcase significant environmental justice victories by these same communities (such as Starlight Park and Concrete Plant Park along the Bronx River) and features of The Community Plan to further transform the area.  The tour will end at The Point CDC, another SBRWA member organization in the Hunts Point neighborhood, which hosts Bascom Catering, a delicious and affordable local café where participants are encouraged to have lunch.

June promises to be an active month for the Alliance; the City of New York will be releasing its recommendations for the Sheridan corridor after a two year federally-funded TIGER II study, a process that was often frustrating for community groups and local stakeholders. The tour may include an option for participants to join in a SBRWA campaign activity such as a press conference or meeting.

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