As part of their Plugged In series, CoreNet NYC recently hosted “Big Data & Its Impact on Public Policy”. The event, moderated by Karp Strategies Director Ali Sutherland-Brown, featured guest speaker Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) discussing her new book Data Action: Using Data for Public Good. From methodologies of scraping social media to analyze ghost cities in China and their potential applications in other contexts to the useful role of qualitative data and local knowledge, Sarah shows how big data can be used for good when applied in ethical and responsible ways. The event ended with seven Data Action Principles: (1) Do No Harm, (2) Build Teams, (3) Change Power Dynamics, (4) Expose Hidden Systems, (5) Ground-Truth, (6) Share Data, and ending with (7) Creating Your Ethical Standards while remembering data are people.
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During the Opening Keynote, Graphic Recorder, Tiaré Jung illustrated the conversation between Cara Page, Maya Lazzaro, and Emmily De Los Santos. Follow Tiaré Jung on Instagram.
By Michaela Kramer and Anya Patterson
The Karp Strategies team recently attended the Hindsight Conference, an annual event organized by the APA NYM Diversity Committee that explores urban planning through an equity lens. This year’s theme, “Our Health, Our Future”, was an effort to shine a light on the important intersection between health and planning, and pressingly, grapple with 2020’s unprecedented public health crisis. By the start of the November 11 conference, 292,000 people had contracted COVID-19 in New York City, a number starkly higher in majority Black and brown communities.
Over the course of the two-day virtual event, participants heard from and engaged with cross-sector leaders about the need to decenter whiteness in planning, pathways for healing and trust-building, and new models for economic development. In each session, emphasis was given to centering Black and brown existence in health, joy, and creativity.
While the event provided many lessons and resources that the Karp Strategies team looks forward to incorporating into our work, we are focusing our reflection here on the session: Active Design 2.0: A Playbook for Health Equity. The session brought together Kizzy Charles-Guzman of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Nupur Chaudhury of the New York State Health Foundation, Josh Langham of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Suzanne Nienaber of the Center for Active Design, and Delma Palma of the New York City Housing Authority in a conversation about bridging the gap between health research and design practices. Much of the conversation centered around the forthcoming Active Design Guidelines 2.0, which will be updated from the original 2010 Guidelines. The manual provides architects, urban designers, and planners with strategies for creating healthier buildings, streets, and public spaces, based on the latest academic research and best practices in the field. Given how widely used the Guidelines are and how anticipated this update is, we are eager to share this recap and reflection for any colleagues who were not able to attend this dynamic session.
A virtual conversation about active design from cross-sector experts
A New Definition of Health and Design
The session began with an explanation of how key ideas have changed since the Active Design Guidelines were published in 2010. For example, experts in the field have moved away from a definition of health that only considers the physical to an emphasis on pursuing a more holistic view. The new definition recognizes the importance of mental and community wellbeing, in addition to physical wellbeing. Panelists explained that a similar shift has taken place for the definition of design -- a move away from a narrow view that focuses solely on material changes to a perspective that considers the implications of participatory processes, maintenance, and operations. The new Guidelines will integrate this holistic approach, emphasizing the full context of health and design to improve neighborhood outcomes.
The Importance of Social Infrastructure The panelists discussed the importance of social infrastructure. While the practice of active design has traditionally focused on the physical spaces we inhabit, designers, planners, researchers, and advocates have pushed the conversation to consider the significant impact that social ties have on people’s health. Delma and Nupur emphasized that active design should promote social connections and community support as much as it promotes physical movement or airflow. This emphasis is that much more important when considering these designs through a racial equity lens. During times of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus have had to adapt to maintain social connections and provide community support with limited access to resources. The pandemic has exposed the negative impacts of past efforts that may have focused solely on physical infrastructure. Dramatic changes in the way we live have meant that people without supportive social infrastructure have suffered far more than those with care networks, accessible open spaces, and strong neighborhood connections already in place.
Planning for a Hotter, Wetter Future
As the conversation progressed, the panel looked toward the future and the ways in which the field must be proactive in addressing our changing climate reality. These leaders suggest that the time is now for designers and policymakers to make active design changes in the places that are most likely to bear the burden of climate change. Panelists affirmed the need to correct design and policies doing harm to vulnerable communities -- and find new ways to improve neighborhood conditions in the future. Kizzy Charles-Guzman summed up the spirit of the conversation when she proclaimed, “health equity should be a foundation, not a co-benefit, of urban design.”
Answering The Call -Looking Forward
The session offered a nuanced discussion of the forthcoming changes to the Active Design Guidelines, and guidance for anyone seeking to perform projects that utilize the Guidelines. It called on the attendees to look inward. As planners, architects, and urban designers, it’s critical to approach our work through a racial equity lens. Addressing social and physical infrastructure simultaneously is the best way to ensure that the work we produce is accessible and resourceful to all. We look forward to the Guidelines release, anticipated for early 2022, and expected to be available at centerforactivedesign.org.
From October 13-14, Karp Strategies’ Analyst Cheryl Lim and Graduate Analyst Stephanie Silva attended the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore Windpower Virtual Summit. Rebecca Karp, Managing Principal and CEO of the firm, was a panelist for a session titled “Meaningful Community Engagement in the Time of COVID” with fellow co-panelists Kris Ohleth from Ørsted and Hannah-Marie P. Garcia from the University of Delaware, and moderated by Beth Treseder from Equinor Wind. Throughout the two day event, Rebecca, Cheryl, and Stephanie joined over 1,000 renewable energy professionals, government officials, thought leaders, and students to participate in a variety of panel discussions focused on understanding and talking about the critical role of offshore wind in the post-pandemic economic recovery.
Offshore wind presents a unique opportunity to address climate change head-on by bringing a much needed scalable renewable energy source to the market and by leveraging tremendous private and public investments to generate job opportunities and community economic development. America has been hard-hit by the effects of COVID-19, leaving communities reeling in the midst of economic turmoil. Despite the pandemic slowing or halting other projects altogether, offshore wind as an industry has continued to forge forward with momentum expected to continue and critically aid the recovery of the U.S. economy.
Multiple east coast states have, at an increasing pace, utilized the procurement of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and Offshore Renewable Energy Certificates (OREC), long-term electricity and wind energy contracts, to purchase energy in volumes and prices that meet consumer needs and which drive supply chain, workforce, and port development. States and developers have started engaging stakeholders to share introductory information on offshore wind, answer questions, and address concerns.
Throughout the conference, panelists shared their positive sentiments and outlook for workforce development within the offshore wind industry, including new jobs and the necessary related apprenticeships, training, and education. A key theme to the successful development of the workforce pipeline was centered around industry cooperation in all sectors - public, private, and non-profit. There are currently many workforce initiatives underway and regional collaboration will be integral to truly meet the workforce needs across the Northeast. A challenge identified by panelists for workforce development related to managing the expectations and understanding between industry and training/education organizations. Building an offshore wind farm will require mechanics, electricians, professionals from the oil and gas industry, workers from another renewable energy field, and more. Although transferable skills from these trades exist, the facilities and employee base may have decreased in size, and efforts to build these back up is needed. In the development of career pathways for OSW-adjacent professions, establishing standards beyond Global Wind Organisation (GWO) for on-site workers will be important. For example, such a standard would be commercial fishermen looking to use their vessels during the fishing off-season to assist developers. These trainings would allow for the fishermen to prepare for the transition smoothly.
Panelists also spoke about their dedication and commitment to meeting local stakeholders impacted by these developments with great fervor. Chris Hart, President and Managing Director of Atlantic Shores detailed Atlantic Shores’ commitment to hiring locally, citing locally-hired fishery and community liaisons, and building innovative partnerships with local institutions.
Stakeholder engagement is seen as a pivotal element to the success and failure of a project. Panelists highlighted the importance of looking beyond dialogue and moving beyond transactional interactions. Hannah-Marie Garcia from the University of Delaware spoke of her research into ways to develop co-management roles with tribal communities. Kris Ohleth from Ørsted spoke of building trust in the communities through deep, early embedded engagement. Rebecca Karp of Karp Strategies emphasized creating engagement opportunities during COVID not just over Zoom, but relying on tried and tested traditional methods like maintaining a relationship with members over the phone or in-person as needed. Throughout the conference, the importance of engaging communities early, often, and understanding local needs was an ever-present theme.
As we continue our work in offshore wind, renewable energy, and resiliency, we are grateful to participate in events to share and learn together. We would like to thank AWEA for hosting this virtual summit, and we look forward to attending again in 2021.
Interested in getting in touch with us about offshore wind? Contact Jen Becker, Practice Lead at Jen@karpstrategies.com.