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Neighborhood Commons_ New York

Design Trust for Public Space Fellowship | Alexandra Gonzalez

Design Trust for Public Space and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) have partnered on Neighborhood Commons: Plazas, Sidewalks & Beyond, a project that will explore opportunities to improve the current model of public space governance and programming.


The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated, more than ever before, the unique and key role that small businesses play in the livelihood of our neighborhoods and public spaces. With the crisis hitting commercial corridors and main streets hard, Neighborhood Commons is a timely initiative that will provide small businesses and place-based organizations with tools and strategies to recover as community anchors that support our main streets.



  • Nur Asri | Urban Policy Fellow

  • Isaac Gertman | Communications Fellow

  • Alexandra Gonzalez | Design Fellow

  • Valeria Mogilevich | Engagement Fellow




  • Catherine Betances | Equitable Public Space Fellow

  • Elana Ehrenberg | Senior Policy Manager

  • Jasmin Tepale | Equitable Public Space Fellow

The project culminated in 2 pilot activations led by our Principal, Alexa Gonzalez in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and a photo exhibition with partners in Jamaica, Queens in June 2022. It included a comprehensive research process that encompassed a review of citywide policies impacting public space use and management, as well as stakeholder engagement with business improvement district and other place-based organizations across 12 neighborhoods. 

Watkins Public Space was the first Neighborhood Commons initiative in Brownsville, BK with Brownsville Community Justice featuring local vendors at Caribbeing House, a new community mural by Artist CJ that allowed the community to see a hopeful reflection of themselves and features a memorial space to victims of gun violence in the area. Tape art by Kuki added color and playful designs to the roadbed. 

What’s up, Jamaica! An Exhibition Celebrating the Work of Photojournalist Nat Valentine
“What’s up, Jamaica!” is part of Design Trust for Public Space’s Neighborhood Commons Initiative, highlighting how art and commerce can support each other in public spaces. Working in partnership with Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, 165th Street Mall, and King Manor Museum, “What’s up, Jamaica!” presents a look back at photojournalist Nat Valentine’s captivating work showcasing events and people around the neighborhood.

Banners along 165th Street Mall display Mr. Valentine’s images which capture local events and community members.


Nat Valentine Photography Exhibition Launch Event and Outdoor Market 

Over 15+ local vendors activated 165th Street Mall in Jamaica to celebrate the Exhibition Launch. Family fun included music, arts and crafts, games, food and dancing!

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