Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Biocities Educates, Builds, Transforms

Bio Cities Conference CITAC 2

June 20, 2014 - From farm and forest land preservation in a dozen East Coast states to the cooperative nurturing of a quarter-acre community garden in New York City, the Open Space Institute believes in the idea that people and land support one another.

OSI’s Citizen Action program exists to help grassroots groups protect land and community at the most local level. Since its establishment 30 years ago, the program has assisted more than 120 locally-based environmental organizations working to make their communities a better place.

A primary goal of the Citizen Action program is help these local groups establish themselves, with the idea that they would ultimately “graduate” and be replaced with new enterprises that need help starting out.

One of the program’s recent successes is BioCities Inc., a New York City group of planners, architects and urban visionaries that just received its IRS 501c3 determination as a non-profit organization.

Kathleen Bakewell, BioCities’ executive director, is a LEED-accredited landscape architect who turned the recession and subsequent availability of highly skilled individuals into an opportunity for an impactful idea for thinking about cities and how they are run. Joining the Citizen Action program in 2011, BioCities integrates agriculture and environmental education to transform urban places—focusing on the interconnectedness of humans and nature. 

“We do two things: educate and build. Our Transforming Cities Project brings together leaders and emerging voices to present, discuss and debate ideas, leading to real action,” Bakewell said. “Through our built projects we partner with nature to change urban environments and gain a deeper understanding of how urban ecosystems and human populations can help each other thrive.”

BioCities organizes programs that provide communities with access to highly specialized environmental concepts and their real world applications. In the past year alone, BioCities has partnered with Green City Force, a workforce training program working with young adults from NYCHA housing; designed a 30,000 square foot rooftop farm for a new mixed-use complex in Long Island City; partnered with a Brownsville church to design a capacity-building program for converting vacant urban lots into agricultural space, local training and community recreation; and partnered with Waste to Wealth and Crauderueff Associates to design various public educational programs.
We wish BioCities Inc. the best of luck as they continue to transform communities and spaces in New York City!


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