What We're About
The Bergen Green Space aims to establish an economic model based on reciprocity and democratic ownership rather than private property and profits. We seek to sustain the practice of mutual aid by formalizing alternative ways of organizing labor and exchange. We want to help enable New Yorkers to create and steward collective wealth, engage as equals, and realize their shared needs and desires.
Where We're Coming From
The Bergen Green Space began in September of 2020 as an effort to transform a privately-owned, long-abandoned lot into an outdoor community center, providing local residents, workers and the general public with access to green space, basic services, educational opportunities and resources for collective organization. The project began as a call for democratic intervention into the future of one neglected lot, taken as an emblematic example of the pervasive abuses of speculative, absentee land ownership in NYC. In March of 2021 this project was unfortunately cut short.
Though short-lived the effort to revitalize 733 Bergen Street was a profoundly educational experience. The lessons, resources and relationships that it generated are all now helping to inform Bergen Green’s next steps.
Why We're Doing It
Because the current system is broken:
Private Profit at Public Expense
We live in an economy geared towards the realization of profits rather than the realization of common needs and desires. Private, profit-driven control of socially necessary goods and services degrades their quality while forcing the vast majority of people to work endlessly or otherwise forfeit access to the things they need.
Compelled to work for wages in order to secure a living, most of us find ourselves laboring under conditions that we ourselves do not determine, producing things that we do not design, doing things we do not find meaning in.
The disappearance of local institutions, the blurring of the line between work and free-time, the intrusion of the market into the spheres of leisure and self-expression all estrange us from one another. Work that leaves us mind-numbed, tired and anxious sends us seeking sedation in the form of cheap consumerism and
algorithmically-controlled social ‘markets’. There, we sell superficial versions of ourselves rather than experiencing the joy of honest human exchange and collective endeavor.
A hierarchical workplace, a broken political system, unaccountable ownership of the places we live and token community groups unable to affect change leave people feeling disempowered. Problems for which we’ve found popular solutions remain unresolved while the harder, more important questions simply go unasked. Stripped of agency many become disillusioned with what seems like a cheap and limited form of democracy.
Whether we compare the Global North with the Global South or Park Slope with East New York, all around us we see a pattern of wealth juxtaposed with poverty. The two are not independent of one another. Their proximity is not incidental. Wealth requires a poorer population and depressed areas to exploit in order to reproduce itself. Because of this interdependence prejudice and discrimination die hard (or not at all) in an ostensibly liberal society.