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Adam Purple's Legacy
As of 3/20/98, Spring Equinox

Colleen began representing Adam Purple in 1987, a year after his spectacular garden was bulldozed by the City of New York. In the 1970s Adam liberated several abandoned city lots in the Lower East Side from their debris and squalor. Bicycling to Central Park to collect horse manure for compost, Adam literally made the garden's dirt, a feat that would take Mother Earth several thousand years.

Corn, cucumbers, tomatos, peaches, black raspberries and a cornucopia of other plants rarely grown in urban environs thrived in this unique haven. Free food was abundant. Children played in yards once ruled by drug dealers and junkies. People sought refuge in the garden from the stress of city life. Bees, butterflies, lizards and birds found their way to this island of serenity in the Lower East Side.

The garden was built in concentric circles, like ripples in water. Each circle consisted of similar colored plants and flowers arranged in the colors of the rainbow. The garden's center held a double yin yang and a Chinese Empress tree. Adam's garden was more than an agricultural project, it was a genuine work of art—an earth sculpture. News media from around the world, including National Geographic magazine, documented its beauty.

The garden was a revolutionary act, a defiant statement against private property. And yet, out of all the empty lots in Manhattan, the City of New York targeted the garden as a site to build low income housing. An old tactic: divide and conquer people who would otherwise be allies. Acting as if affordable housing was its preeminent concern, the City of New York bulldozed the garden on a cold winter day in 1986—despite the fact that a federal court order against destroying the garden was in effect. The City's conduct was tantamount to a mob-style hit-and-run urban crime.

Adam has lived at 184 Forsyth Street adjacent to the destroyed garden since February, 1972. The building is a beautiful example of urban archaeology, an old tenement worthy of a museum. The City of New York acquired the building in the late 1970s, but refused to pay the utilities bill. As a result, Con Edison shut off power in 1981. This caused the other tenants to move out, leaving Adam ever since without heat, hot water or electricity.

Despite Adam's efforts to maintain the building, the City has negligently allowed this surviving relic of architectural history to deteriorate. The City's Department of Housing Preservation (!) and Development now plans to demolish 184 Forsyth Street. We believe it would be far less costly to preserve and rehabilitate the building, to recycle it so to speak. But the City is guided by a consumerist, throw-away mentality—so detrimental to the earth. Its agenda is to tear the building down and erect a brand new one.

Adam is an obstacle to the City's demolition plans. His due process rights means the City cannot just summarily throw him in the street. In this regard, our firm will again confront the City in Housing Court in its fourth attempt since 1986 to evict Adam from his home. The City is relentless in its effort to rid itself of a man who speaks and lives ecological wisdom.

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