Sunset Park is one of New York City’s largest Mexican immigrant neighborhoods. La Unión is a grassroots organization of people of the global south working to advance the social and economic equality, as well the preservation and promotion of their cultural traditions. The organization faces significant challenges, including lack of funding, the ability to mobilize existing and potential members, as well as a lack of a permanent administrative and community space.
Despite these challenges, La Unión has successfully developed Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as well as other strategies to attempt to mitigate the myriad of socio-economic and environmental challenges they confront. The largest challenge faced by La Unión is their need to create a permanent community structure to further achieve its overarching goal of forming a broad-based participatory movement to address critical needs.
La Unión has acquired a parcel of land in Sunset Park, which has the potential to provide space for a permanent community structure to house its space for community meetings and public programs and events, as well augmented green space, including community gardens open to the entire neighborhood. The Sunset Park neighborhood has a need for increased green space, and this garden will enhance the community space in providing multiple channels for the diverse population of Sunset Park to interact in a variety of ways – from the political, social, economic, and environmental activist opportunities.
The entire student cohort of the MS Design and Urban Ecologies program at Parsons The New School for Design will create a proposed design to build project for La Unión to realize its goal of the creation of a permanent home. In addition, project participants will help the organization navigate through the necessary municipal and federal zoning and other regulations, as well as identify funding for the organizations ongoing operational and programmatic needs.
(The image used for the proposal is from GardenMaps.org, which is for public use, and shows the neighborhood highlighted in red with no other community gardens but the one green dot which shows the one initiated by La Union.)