Beyond Green is a project that started under the umbrella of the Civic Innovation for Social Transformation Transdisciplinary Lab at The New School. It is the result from a yearlong collaboration between a group of graduate students and the Catalyst Program, an initiative from Partnership for Parks (NYC) that helps create selfdetermined park communities through longterm engagement.
During Catalyst’s engagement with communities, people are connected to park spaces, get access to skill building programs, are connected with community groups and organizations, and are provided other key resources. We call Catalyst’s work civic activation; a process in which public spaces are used to leverage the power of the communities in which these spaces exist.
We have grown to use the bonsai as a metaphor for selfdetermined communities, since they are both special but contained entities; with the right care each can grow in strength, uniqueness, and lifetime. We believe that community initiatives –these beautiful bonsais!– in order to be really visible, accessible, and inclusive, need to be community led and exist in the public space.
The tangible outcome of our partnership with Catalyst is the Community Builder Kit (CBK). It is a customizable booklet that invites people to reflect on and identify community groups as well as public spaces in their neighbourhood and the relationship between both. The CBK is an open tool, available for download through the beyond green website. Each community is encouraged to use it as they see fit.