Women's Activism NYC

Liz Christy

1945 - 1985

By: She Built Nyc | Date Added:

Christy had a diverse educational background that included attending Columbia University, New York University and the New School. She took additional painting and drawing classes at the New York Studio School; City Planning classes at the NYU Graduate School of Public Administration; and classes in Botany, Agronomy and Landscaping at the New York Botanical Garden. In 1973 Liz Christy, then living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan was the moving force in the formation of the “Green Guerillas”, a non-profit group of visionaries that assisted in the creation of urban green spaces in the poorest sections of New York City and established the modern community garden movement in New York City. She developed a program that allowed local nurseries and garden centers to donate plants, trees and shrubs to community gardens. From 1974 until 1981 she had a radio program on WBAI-FM in New York City entitled “Grow Your Own”. This program covered such topics as urban forestry, landscaping, community gardens, community environmental issue and urban design/planning. In 1975 she was appointed as the first Director of the Council on the Environment New York City, Open Space Greening Program. She held this position until her death in 1985. The Open Space Greening Program was responsible for designing and developing open green spaces in the poorest areas of New York City. Working with local community leaders Liz directed the creation of over twenty new community green spaces and play lots. During this period she also developed a 12 hour pruning and tree maintenance course for the NYC Parks Department to certify Citizen Street Tree Pruners. In the ten years that she Directed the Open Space Greening Program she changed the face of the city. In addition to the sites she designed, she provided technical assistance, resources and training to support the almost 700 community gardens in New York City. Her spirit and vision for the development of urban community gardens was seen by visitors to New York City and helped people create similar programs in Boston, Philadelphia , San Francisco and Seattle. She is considered the mother of the modern community Gardening movement.

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