Together We Are The Change We Wish to See

TIME’S UP: Direct Action Environmental Change 

For over 28 years, TIME’S UP has been working to create a safer, greener, more sustainable New York City. TIME’S UP! is a New York City-based not-for-profit direct-action environmental group that promotes events and educational programs to create a more sustainable, less toxic city. Time’s Up is entirely volunteer run; All donations go directly to work supporting campaigns, events, and educational workshops. There have been a number of campaigns at the center of TIME’S UP! over the years, including the promotion of bicycling as a non-polluting form of transportation, and the removal of cars from sections of Central Park.

Timeline

From their work on lush connecting parks, community gardens and greenways that wrap around New York to the nearly 200 miles of continuous bike lanes, auto-free streets, and pedestrian plazas, it’s clear that TIME’S UP!’s successes continue to influence sustainable urban redesign.  It is unusual to come across a grassroots environmental organization with such deep roots (long running).   This is unfortunate because the work done by TIME’S UP! and other community based bottom up organizations is crucial–  they act as the watchdogs, as change makers and defenders of justice, as the ‘let’s it ourselves’ people that give the term direct-action real meaning.

 

Group Dynamics

TIME’S UP! non-profit organization draws diverse member participants from the rich spectrum of NYC residents. Our organization aims to foster individual participation in the campaigns we are working on.  Workshops to teach individuals how to repair and maintain bicycles are held in several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn on a weekly basis.  In addition, special events are regularly organized for community participation. These include group bike rides, garden clean up days, and featured speakers or artist exhibits that foster environmental education and engagement.  TIME’S UP! is very active in the community, and is composed of a constituency that reaches beyond the island of Manhattan.

 

My internship role as assistant to the director provided ample opportunity to utilize a range of skills developed through the interdisciplinary education featured in the Bard Center for Environmental Policy program.  I had diverse set of responsibilities in my position: to execute on what needs to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, to foster positive engagement, and encourage active participation. Upon beginning my work with TIME’S UP! I found myself coordinating and running events and gatherings. As I reflect back, the Group assignments in the first year of the BCEP program were a useful outlet for improving interpersonal skills, and further establishing in my mind what it takes to be a productive group participant.  These Group sessions fostered my self-confidence as well as prepared my transition to an active leadership role in my Internship.  In the BCEP academic setting, it was easy to have multiple people in a small group that were both capable and eager to take the reins of leadership.  For me, collective coursework was an opportunity to balance my desire to continually take the lead with that of being able to maintain productivity and remain an owner even without a primary leadership role. The practice of incorporating all group members, ensuring that each member felt that their work was productive, and knowing when to turn over the leadership role to someone else while maintaining engaging useful participation was critical to my success as the assistant director for TIME’S UP!.

I hadn’t realized how much I had learned in the environmental policy courses from the first year curriculum at BCEP until I began my internship with TIME’S UP!.  Working with dynamic groups of TIME’S UP volunteers very quickly brought to my attention the importance of constituency building. The ability of a group to remain relevant in the face of changing social norms, political shifts, and economic pressures is dependant on the capacity of the organizations leaders to maintain constituency and continuity, while remodeling practices and norms to keep in line with the political climate.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.26.44 AM

TIME’S UP was involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement, an example of catering to the political climate in NYC.  Select the image for more information on our energy bikes!

TIME’S UP! began aggressively campaigning for sustainable environmental changes at a time when the general public was hardly engaging with environmental issues. TIME’S UP! has successfully remained an active organization for nearly thirty years because it’s strong leaders have been able to stay true to their mission statement while remaining agile enough to shift campaign focus, featured programming and team members to remain relevant over three decades. Our organization acts as an educational platform and direct action organizer, sharing information about relevant environmental issues and actively promoting participation in sustainability campaigns with New Yorkers and the global community at large. The most successful events and campaigns actively engage individuals in direct-action.

 

Bringing It All Together

In working with TIME’S UP!, the importance of the work that the organization has been doing for so long was immediately evident. I was pleased by the fluidity with which the group has acclimated to the dynamic socio-political environment over time.  This year marked the tenth anniversary of weekly bike workshops hosted by TIME’S UP!.

Brooklyn Space

These workshops are free to the public and are taught by volunteer bike mechanics.  ( we do encourage and appreciate donations!) 

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.10.25 AM

 

Workshops include:

  • month long courses that meet once a week to educate beginning bikers on basic maintenance skills,
  • a brooklyn workshop space where experienced mechanics can construct their own bikes out of donated or reclaimed parts, and
  • an all female mechanic workshop that is hosted and held weekly by experienced women mechanics for the aspiring self sufficient female cyclist.

These workshops take the concept that biking is sustainable to the next level, arguably to a point of true community sustainability.  Check out our full calendar of events here: JOIN TIMES UP IN ACTION

Biking is a sustainable and healthy form of non-polluting urban transportation.

The mechanic workshops educate and empower individuals to maintain their own sustainable transportation. I  found the task of actively engaging members at the events and workshops to be rewarding because, it strengthens the constituency of our organization.My engagement with each individual that walks through our doors empowered participants with the knowledge and passion to propagate the movement for a more sustainable city.

 10 year Party

In August, I was part of a team that organized a celebration to commemorate the ten years of hard work and commitment that our bike mechanics have volunteered. I found the power of positive feedback in small groups of people to be an effective practice.  Hosting a big thank you to the many mechanics who are working toward the same end, selflessly volunteering week after week but in varied locations across the city was an inspiring and affirming experience for all of our volunteers.

It was impressive to witness the magic of people working together, to better the world expecting nothing in return. The opportunity to be exposed to and participate in the management of many groups of volunteers throughout the city was challenging at times, but ultimately affirmed the power we have to effect actual social change.

Bike Path

 

About jessicakaller

Jessica is a graduate student at Bard's Center for Environmental Policy. She is currently working with an environmental non-profit based in New York City. As assistant to the director at Time's Up NYC, Jessica is applying her interdisciplinary graduate education by working on a number of direct-action environmental campaigns. In addition, Jessica is the acting director of development as well as head of the archiving team at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS). MoRUS, a living history museum, promotes scholarship of grassroots urban space activism by researching and archiving efforts to create community spaces, hosting community events, and supporting local community gardens. Time's Up! Environmental Organization http://www.times-up.org Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space http://www.morusnyc.org/