I founded and played in several bands, such as Carpe Diem (1985-6), choke (1989-90), geek (1989-92), BOX (1990) and Department of Buildings (Vague Moon Records, 2004-2007). I co-founded a 45 r.p.m. record label in 1988 called, Simple Machines Records, developing the company’s brand identity and producing graphic designs for the first four releases. I left the company 2 years later to return to college 1990. Around this same time, I created and edited an alt-humor and comic fanzine, LEG (1987-90) and produced underground film festivals in NYC.
My artistic life has always been intertwined with my support of the environmental, economic and social justice movements. For instance, I helped organize benefit concerts and produced records that donated profits to social movement organizations. My involvement in social justice led me to work directly in movement organizations focused on various issues: housing justice, elder legal rights, criminal sentencing reform, community development, social impact investing and sustainable business practices. To increase the effectiveness of my movement work, I obtained law degree. For the last ten years, however, I have been retired from the practice of law. Yet, this legal training has continued to inform my approach to contributing to social and cultural organizations and impact entrepreneurs.
In 2002, I launched a community development company, Dwelling Research Corp, and a related consulting company, Propeller Group, aiming to create new and preserve existing spaces for the arts — threatened in areas of rapid residential real estate growth in Brooklyn, NY. My flagship initiative is GreenbeltBrooklyn, an innovative project combining a residential condominium designed around a ground-floor performance and exhibition space for emerging and established arts organizations, Center for Performance Research. (CPR) The building was featured in AIA Center for Architecture exhibition +Housing (2010), awarded the Building Brooklyn Award (2009) and was the first structure certified LEED Gold in Brooklyn, NY.
In addition to this project, my companies advised and managed construction for several other arts organizations from 2002-2011, such as 11 Vanderbilt Artspace, Artopolis/ Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, PDS Development, Center for Remembering and Sharing, Starting Artists, Galapagos Artspace, Williamsburg Arts Exchange (WAX), Coalition of Might Ensemble Theaters (COMET), Bromaco Art Gallery and Supreme Trading Gallery.
In 2009, I was a recipient of a portion of a grant to Chez Bushwick (a CPR partner) from Rockefeller Brothers Fund that would inspire me to begin curating food art and promoting impact investing in sustainable food business. The Capital B grant aimed to create a community-based plan for growth that would preserve cultural and economic diversity. I was tasked with exploring the business case for launching urban farms to occupy the many vacant building lots in Bushwick — abandoned in the real estate market collapse in 2008 — creating a blog, thegreenest.net, that I maintained until 2012.
In my interviews, I discovered a group of artists developing unique practices that provoked new ways at imagining at food system change. I successfully proposed to commission art and produce a multi-part intervention, Farm City, in collaboration with French Institute Alliance Française as part of their 2010 Crossing the Line Festival. Subsequently, I co-curated and produced an exhibition called Brooklyn Utopias at The Old Stone House Gallery. I also gave several gallery talks with many of the artists with whom I worked, addressing the core environmental and economic issues that their work touched upon.
This research led me to form a “do-tank” organization, Slow Money NYC, that sought to create dialogue about and catalyze investment in sustainable food and farm businesses. I was director of this non-profit organization, producing an annual conference, Food + Enterprise Summit, blogging regularly and organizing monthly community events, such as Good Food Spotlight.
Denckla manages Foodshed Investors NY, the first angel investor network dedicated to funding local and sustainable food business.
Through his firm, Denckla Projects, he provides strategic advisory services and investment capital to such companies as Egg Restaurant, Mouth.com, Brooklyn Food Works, Red Hook Community Farm, Local Farms Fund, Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream, Greenbelt Condos and several others.
Denckla writes and speaks widely on impact investing in sustainable food and farms.