Grant #192

Citizen Bridge

May 9, 2016

New York City’s first citizen-built bridge.

Nancy Nowacek’s dream? Building a 1,440-foot floating pedestrian bridge between Brooklyn and Governors Island to reclaim the city’s waterways as a public space. It all began in 2012, when she was gazing out her apartment window in Red Hook, staring at Governor’s Island in the distance, and thinking that we should have the ability to walk there again. Yes, again. In the early 1900s, the space in between these two locations (known as the Buttermilk Channel) was walkable due to the existence of a sandbar. Cows were walked across it at low tide to graze on Governor’s Island. This would be the first citizen-built and longest temporary bridge in New York City history – and guess what? It’s actually happening.

The project, dubbed “Citizen Bridge,” is in full swing with over 200 volunteers – from kids to writers to boat captains. Between the changing climate and expanding city population, the waterways are a valuable but unused resource with huge potential. Nancy’s goal with Citizen Bridge is to use the collective power of citizens to reshape their cities, from the waterline up, and to reconnect citizens with their waterways. Because of current waterway usage, Citizen Bridge can only be installed for a 24-hour span. But the plan is to return year after year, and hit other waterways beyond Brooklyn.

Our Awesome Without Borders grant will be put towards the next project phase: a 120′ proof-of-concept span in Brooklyn Bridge Park. During this phase, the team will test all the logistic, operational, structural, and safety systems critical to the final installation in the Buttermilk Channel.

Want to get involved? Support the project right NOW on Kickstarter, and follow the project’s journey on Facebook and Twitter.

Category: Activism, Community, Empowerment, Environment



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders