Manila MCP team learns from Cairo. Transfers idea to Payatas, a Manila slum.

Mega-Cities' Urban Innovation Transfers

Contents Environmental Justice International Transfers Urban Leadership

Urban Leadership for the 21st Century (NYC)

W. K. Kellogg Foundation funded
Descriptions of Cross-Neighborhood Transfers: The urban innovation transfers which resulted from this progress span a range of issue areas including urban gardening, health care, job training, street vending, family preservation, youth gang prevention, domestic violence, and many others. Each transfer involves an idea which emerged at a neighborhood scale, and is now being transferred and adapted to a new location. Eight of these transfers are between neighborhoods within Los Angeles, ten are between neighborhoods within New York and eleven are between neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles.
Ten Transfer Partnerships Within New York City

Bridge the Gap is learning UHAB's approach to "Urban Homesteading": The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) led by Andrew Reicher, works with low-income New Yorkers to help them take over dilapidated apartment buildings, fix them up, and form resident cooperatives to manage and maintain them. Bridge the Gap is a grassroots group in Harlem with a dual mission: (1) to offer inexpensive childcare so that low income women can find jobs and get off welfare; and (2) provide the women with childcare skills so they can find work as childcare providers. The Director of Bridge the Gap, Shirley Middleton, was interested in securing an abandoned building in her neighborhood as a affordable housing for her women and a permanent site for her childcare facilities. Toward this end, Andrew has been teaching his "Urban Homesteading" method to Shirley. Shirley has pushed this process forward with remarkably few resources. In April 1995, she received approval from her community board to gain access to the abandoned building she wishes to rehabilitate. She is now making plans for how the building will be redesigned, and working out the financing.

2. Brooklyn Perinatal Network: Extending Their Pregnancy Prevention Program Through High Ideals for Youth: In 1984, Ngozi Moses organized a group of neighborhood associations, consumer groups, and healthcare agencies into a task force for increasing the availability of maternal and infant care to undocumented immigrants in the Bedford, Bushwick, Brownesville, and Fort Greene areas of Brooklyn. Now incorporated as a non-profit, the Brooklyn Perinatal Network (BPN) coordinates and targets community health services, conducts neighborhood health workshops, and does policy advocacy aimed protecting the health rights of expectant mothers and newborns. High Ideals for Youth, created by David Ellison, runs a diversity of innovative youth activities aimed at leadership development. Ngozi and David hit upon the idea of incorporating pregnancy prevention initiatives into some of the High Ideals for Youth programs.. In this way, BPN could extend its reach into new neighborhoods, and High Ideals for Youth could extend its scope to address issues of pregnancy. This transfer has faced formidable obstacles, most notably the closing of High Ideals for Youth due to lack of funding. However, both Ngozi and David are still committed to this joint venture and determined to make it happen and have continued to work on the design of these pregnancy prevention workshops.
3. EVAC is Adapting Westside Cares' Food Voucher Program to the East Village: On Manhattan's Upper Westside, Westside Cares has created a system through which residents can food vouchers at local grocery stores and give them to homeless people instead of cash. The homeless can in turn redeem these vouchers at the participating stores. n the East Village, Eastside Volunteers Against Crack (EVAC) is a neighborhood movement organized by Charlie Dworkis... After learning about Westside Cares, Charlie decided that the food voucher program might help keep drug dealers off the streets, because too often, money given to the homeless is spent on buying drugs. EVAC made significant progress with this transfer: They convinced the major supermarket chains in the neighborhood to participate; they obtained the pro bono support of a PR firm; and they designed a business plan. Unfortunately, this transfer was interrupted when EVAC closed abruptly in July 1994. Westside Cares argues that one reason the transfer failed is that EVAC viewed this transfer as a case of straightforward technical assistance and failed to adopt the main underlying principle: decentralization of responsibility. The Upper Westside voucher program is not run by a single organization, but by a coalition of block associations and neighborhood groups. If one of these shuts down, the program can go on. But EVAC chose to run the program in a centralized manner. So when EVAC died, so did the transfer.
4. 14th St. Business Improvement District is replicating the "Central Park Conservancy" in Union Square: In Midtown Manhattan, the residents who live around Central Park have formed the Central Park Conservancy, an association through which they raise money for the park's upkeep and act as co-managers with the New York City Parks Department. Despite the fact that the New Yorkers living on the perimeter of Central Park are among "the richest people in the world," Linda Davidoff, executive Director of the Parks Council, believes that this model of citizen participation can be replicated in a wide range of neighborhoods. She is now working with Rob Walsh at the 14th Street BID/LDC to see if the idea can be implemented in Union Square Park in lower Manhattan. The Board of the 14th St. BID/LDC, which is eager to do all it can to improve Union Square Park, is in the process of considering changing their by-laws to allow for the creation of a Union Square Park Conservancy. They are also negotiating with the Park Commissioner regarding a power sharing arrangement.
5. Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence: Adapting the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project's Database System: The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is a grassroots organization working to reduce hate crimes against New Yorkers on the basis of their sexual orientation. One of the innovative tools they have devised is a database -- of research institute quality -- which tracks the number and nature of bias crimes against gays citywide. Matt Foreman of the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project is eager to share these data collection methods with other organizations so that it may be used to assimilate information on all types of bias crimes. They have worked with Monona Yin at the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, an unlikely alliance, to help her adopt the database for her own use. The database is now in place, monitoring crimes against, Chinese, Japanese, Philippinos, Koreans, Indonesians, Thai, Veitnamese, Cambodians, Lao, and other Asian groups.
6. Project Greenhope is Replicating Harlem Textile Works Small Business Strategy. Harlem Textile Works (HTW) is a unique micro-enterprise led by Kerris Walsky. It trains low-income minority youths to design, produce, and market their own hand-printed fabrics and textile products. Professional artists and business leaders are enlisted to train the students for future careers in garment design, silkscreen printing, product development, marketing, or merchandising. HTW has become well-known for its Afrocentric designs by young urban artists, and its products are now marketed by J.C. Penney and Hallmark Cards. Project Greenhope, led by Malika Lee Whitney is a halfway house for women ex-offenders who are struggling with substance abuse problems. It offers a range of creative workshops and an alternative to incarceration. For some time, Malika had been interested in learning more about Harlem Textile Works. Their Mega-Cities transfer grant made it possible for Kerris and Malika to do a successful pilot program at Project Greenhope. Kerris gave a series of workshops on textile design specifically for the ex-offendor women. They produced beautiful handbags of their own design. Malika is now seeking funding to make the program sustainable.
7. Homes for the Homeless is replicating its "Jump Start" program at Concourse House in the Bronx: While most programs aimed at reducing homelessness focus on providing shelter, "Homes for the Homeless (HFH)," a New York-based grassroots organization, emphasize the education and family support services that homeless families need to rebuild their lives and find their own homes. HFH has created four pilot "Residential Education Training (RET) Centers" in existing shelters as a way of setting up a family education and anti-poverty system. One innovative component of the RET Centers is called the "Jump Start" Program. In contrast to the federally-financed pre-school program called "Head Start" which tends to favor low-income children in permanent homes, Jump Start offers comprehensive child development services for children in shelters. HFH Executive Director Aurora Zepeda and Training Coordinator Rene Shere have been working with Manuela Schaudt of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) in the Bronx, to replicate the Jump Start Program at FBHC's Concourse House shelter.
8. Fresh Youth Initiatives: Borrowing PASA's "Partners in Leadership" Model: In Washington Heights, a young man in his early 20's, Andy Rubinson created Fresh Youth Initiatives (FYI) a small grassroots initiative aimed at helping kids to design and run their own neighborhood service projects. Andy's philosophy is that helping other people ultimately helps the kids themselves. He was concerned, however, about how to help the youths take ownership of FYI. Kathy Zasloff is the Director of People Against Sexual Abuse (PASA). PASA is a grassroots organization in Brooklyn which offers tailor-made, on-site education programs aimed at reducing sexual violence.Kathy has channeled a lifetime of experience into PASA. One of the unique attributes of her organization is a unique leadership development model called "Partners in Leadership" which involves a series of workshops designed to get the youths to make key strategic decisions for PASA. Through an this ongoing minter-generational mentorship, Kathy has shared her workshops with Andy and his kids, and continues to pass on to Andy her wisdom and experience with a range of organizational development issues.
9. Action for Community Empowerment is learning to create "vacant lot gardens" from the Greening of Harlem Coalition: Led by Bernadette Couzart, the Greening of Harlem Coalition has created dozens of urban gardens on vacant lots. Bernadette, who has mastered the techniques for gaining access to land and supplies, encourages people to borrow her ideas and create "copycat gardens." Action for Community Empowerment (ACE) undertakes tenant organization and youth leadership development in Harlem. After learning about the Greening of Harlem Coalition, the Director, Rima McCoy, decided that urban gardening could become a powerful component of her youth leadership-building activities. With technical assistance from Bernadette, Rima successfully mobilized local youths, cleared a vacant lot, and created a vibrant urban garden. They are now planning to add an outdoor stage for community theatre.
10. The Bushwick Play Project: Designing a Neighborhood-Based Theatre Program Based on the 52nd Street Project: Willie Reale, the Artistic Director of the 52nd Street Project, who recently won a MacArthur Genius Award, has created a model program through which low-income kids learn to write, direct, stage, produce, and perform their own plays. Through this process, kids develop self-esteem and learn valuable job skills. Tom Carey, an Episcopalian monk in Brooklyn, had organized some neighborhood kids that were interested in theatre and wanted to learn about Willie's experience. Willie has transferred his approach to other communities before and has clear ideas about which aspects of his philosophy and approach are essential to replication. He conducted a weeklong workshop/camp for Tom and his kids, taught them how to make what Willie calls a "universal set," and helped them to a mount a performance in August 1994.

The Mega-Cities Project is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status.
Founder and President: Janice Perlman, PhD. Information:
Copyright 2000-2007 The Mega-Cities Project. All rights reserved.