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NEW YORK (Reuters) - An ambitious website is encouraging New Yorkers to transform the city's blighted buildings and vacant lots from eyesores into projects to improve their communities and promote the arts.
Launched last December, GreenSpaceNYC.org hopes to bring people from different levels of society together to solve common inner-city problems.
"This is a social website for people to discuss sustainable development projects," said Laura Scherling, a graphic designer who is one of the site's designers. "It might be anything from discussing a vacant lot in the community to talking about new developments and projects.
One of the first ideas raised by the project is to turn vacant lots into temporary or permanent sites for exhibitions to make art more accessible to a wider public.
The website collects and compiles data to allow individuals, government agencies and companies to view and assess the derelict areas.
"Everyone, from large for-profit companies to small nonprofits to individuals can participate," said Scherling. "The community is given the ability to meet anybody from a government official to a small business owner."
Scherling and web developer Ray Manalo, who helped to set up the website, believe it will give the community a voice and let people express themselves and network on all levels.
GreenSpaceNYC is one of 57 entries in a competition sponsored by the city of New York to make the best use of data available at the NYC Data Mine, www.nyc.gov, a website that provide public information from New York City agencies.
The other entrants in the competition include an application which provides New Yorkers with real-time information during an emergency, an app that guides users to tranquil locations in the city and another that maps the locations of subway trains in real time.
The winner of the contest, which is expected to be announced early in March, will receive $20,000 in cash and a meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Patricia Reaney