596 Acres -New York


Criteria  Description from Interview and Research  Conclusion regarding the codebook  Code (/3)  Strength 
Urban co-governance  596 Acres is New York City’s community land access program, helping neighbors organize around and gain access to New York City’s vacant land to unlock the potential of the urban commons since 2011. A small non-profit organization with a lean budget and nimble staff, 596 Acres operates under a much larger non-profit, the Fund for the City of New York (FCNY), as a Partner Project. The Fund provides crucial back office support as we do our work in the furtherance of the Fund’s mission to “improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”  

Fund for the City of New York (FCNY) 

96 Acres works with with neighbors, other not-for-profit companies, artists and designers, educational institutions, and government at various levels to share data and legal information. Bridge the gvrnt and the governed. 

invite participation from key stakeholders 

596 Acres team has partnered with advocates in Philly, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Toronto and Berlin to create similar tools that make the commons visible 











=> 596 Acres develop the Quintuple helix model. 

However : the role of companies is not that important. Also, even though 596 might want to; the State is not involved as an important actor.  


=>596 Acres refers to the type : Small    scale    and    Shared    governance    (Public 

-citizen /community) 



2  Moderate 
Enabling state  First 596 work, then recognition eventually by by NYC municipal government. 

We also protect spaces by helping to achieve land transfers, inclusion in land trusts, and leases with public authorities 


But the collaboration of the NY City and lobbies regarding taxes, debt and vacant lands, are identified obstacles to valorise vacant lands. 

=> the state is a key element to agree on appropriation of vacant land. 596 Acres manage to get their agreement on numerous cases 

=> however, the government is sometimes reluctant. The state accept 596 demands more than embracing them. 


Regarding 596 voluntee, ones may think to a type B4 Informal (strong), but the State reluctance push us to think a Weak level of Enabling State.  

1,5  Weak 
Pooling  Pooling vacant land 

Pooling of information : “We make information about public land opportunities visible and relevant to invite people, particularly those have been disconnected from power over land for generations, to exercise their right to use the commons. “ 

Pooling technical tools 

Pooling right to shape the city 

596’s aims are to build spaces : 1)  collectively managed 

2) multi-actor 

3)autonomous, interdependent 

4) involves  a transfer of resources to 

the collective group; 

5) right  to  the  city  


=> C2b  “ 

commoning  economy 




3  Strong 
Experimentalism  Each case supported has its own specificity and works through collective governance, directed toward urban food, art… 


advocates in Philly, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Toronto and Berlin to create similar tools that make the commons visible. Groups around the world have also built their own version of 596 Acres’ tools in the cities of Montreal, Pittsburgh, Old Trafford, Melbourne and Sydney. Our code base, Living Lots™ is open source and free to use as a project of the commons 

=> replicable tool. Methodology scalable to other context. Innovative tool : public sign to raise awareness. The project has a view at international level as well as local, to share experience. 

=> Nevertheless, the governance of the resource is quite common. 


=> it may correspond to a D1 [experimentalist] type. (moderate) The project adopts an innovative methodology for its internal organization, for the provision of the service and the production 

2  Moderate 
Tech Justice  connect neighbors to our online map and organizing web-tool, along with the 596 Acres’ staff, who can steer and support residents through legal advice and technical assistance. 

online organizing webtool, Living Lots (LivingLotsNYC.org) 

3  Strong 



Photo Credits: https://596acres.org/

New York-596 Acres-2011-  Neighborhood Funding- Livelihood Improvement- https://596acres.org/



Posted on

September 26, 2023