Announcing the Livonia Avenue El-Space Challenge

“What’s really exciting about this partnership is that it’s turning the traditional planning process on its head.

– David Weinberger, ioby’s City Partnerships Director

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The 2016 Livonia Avenue El-Space Challenge is a partnership between ioby and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) that’s connecting community leaders in Brownsville, Brooklyn with funding and support to reimagine the spaces around the elevated train structure (“el-space”) along the neighborhood’s Livonia Avenue.

Too often, especially in neighborhoods of color that have experienced disinvestment, people often become aware of a big project happening in their backyard after all the decisions about it have been made. But this time, the City is coming to the community first thing, asking the people who inhabit the space every day what kinds of changes they want to see there. It makes the community’s input active, not passive.

Earlier this year, DOT and ioby reviewed a variety of proposals submitted by residents for creative, short-term placemaking projects, and selected four of them for inclusion in the challenge. You’ll be able to read more about the projects and their leaders on our blog later this week!

The partnership takes cues from last year’s Great Streets Challenge, a similar collaboration between ioby and the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Both initiatives sprung from the conviction that everyday residents themselves are best equipped to identify their community’s assets, challenges, and opportunities.


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Another thing that makes this challenge especially exciting is that none of the winning proposals came from people who have a background in design. Some of them have community development experience, but none of the leaders are experts in urban planning. They’re just people who live or work in the neighborhood and have a good idea to improve it.

The challenge is part of DOT’s citywide effort to reconnect communities by improving the spaces around elevated train lines, bridges, and highways. Temporary, innovative projects like these are meant to inform and inspire future urban design and neighborhood revitalization efforts. And: they’re super fun.

For every dollar you donate to one (or all!) of these awesome projects, DOT will give an additional three to make them happen. That’s a 3-to-1 match! The fundraising deadline is June 3, so don’t delay—give today!