New York City STEW-MAP


New York City

Who takes care of New York City’s environment? The answer is all of us. Our landscapes are shaped by many different institutions, groups and individuals. STEW-MAP is a data-driven community and partnership organizing tool designed to demonstrate that people can be positive agents of change in their communities. Our intent is to visualize the often ‘unseen network’ of stewardship actions throughout any given neighborhood, city, region or beyond.

STEW-MAP supports government and civic groups alike to effectively coordinate and collaborate, to identify opportunities to better engage New Yorkers in caring for the environment, and to enhance the capacity of the stewards of our communities. This tool can support civic participation, increase neighborhoods’ social cohesion, and support requests for funding and programming.

[image:] Map of Stewardship Organization locations in New York City area.The first ever STEW-MAP survey was completed in NYC in 2007. Since the publication of the data, STEW-MAP has been used in NYC to support civic participation, increase neighborhoods’ social cohesion, and support requests for funding and programming. In 2015, STEW-MAP was replicated for waterfront-focused stewardship groups in the New York Harbor area, in collaboration with the Hudson River Foundation/Harbor Estuary Project (HRF/HEP).

In 2017, STEW-MAP was replicated in the New York City Region. This study was expanded to include the entire greater metropolitan area and added “transform” as a function. In this study, 55 partners served as data providers and 847 respondents were included in the research results. The data collected in the 2017 survey can be explored visually and spatially on the online map and dashboard.

What We Learned in New York City

STEW-MAP includes 720 groups with a combined budget of $5,301,875,991 and a total of approximately 633,000 people engaged as staff, volunteers, and members. Explore some of our findings below:

Stewardship groups not only exist, they persist. They have evolved along with the social, political, economic, and environmental histories of our city.

In NYC, stewardship territory ranges in scale from a single tree, to a watershed, to an entire region. It varies in shape and can include rectangular lots, linear strips, curving shorelines, and blocky political districts. For some stewards, such as community gardeners, territory is the specific site where physical land management occurs. Other groups focus on advocacy across wider spatial scales -- such as environmental justice groups running neighborhood air quality or green job campaigns.

Examples of various territory sizes and geographies

Stewardship groups don’t just focus on the environment. They hail from many different sectors, including public health, social services, transportation, education, and housing. Yet, these groups all share the belief that the environment can be a catalyst for social change. groups focus on transformation of waste, food, or energy systems, and therefore have multiple sites across the city. In addition we found that many groups work beyond the boundaries of New York City and into the greater metropolitan region.

Word cloud showing relative frequency reported as the mission of NYC groups (n=522). The larger and darker the word, the more frequently it was mentioned.

Stewardship is one of the ways that NYC communities respond to disturbances and stressors such as climate change, extreme weather, disinvestment and gentrification. This pattern has repeated over time here in New York City, with stewardship groups forming in response to the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, September 11th, Hurricane Sandy, and most recently, the COVID-19 crisis.

Average influential events and processes for NYC stewardship groups. Error bars show standard deviation (n=478).

Stewardship groups work on everything from restoring New York City’s oyster population, to protecting natural areas from development, to helping women get outside to exercise and form empowering friendships and civic ties. Taken together, these efforts can collectively transform our environment and communities.

Projects


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2007 NYC STEW-MAP

In 2007, research scientists from the NYC Urban Field Station created a method of assessing and mapping civic stewardship throughout New York City.

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2015 NY/NJ HEP STEW-MAP

STEW-MAP was replicated for waterfront-focused stewardship groups in the New York Harbor area, in collaboration with the Hudson River Foundation /Harbor Estuary Project (HRF/HEP).

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2017 NYC STEW-MAP

STEW-MAP 2017 builds upon past research, providing the first update in 10 years on previously participating groups.

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Last modified: November 2, 2021