Exploring Questions of Resiliency and Coalition Building at the RPA 2019 Assembly

Updated: Jan 21

As the city releases its OneNYC Plan: Building a Strong and Fair City and Mayor De Blasio pursues an extension of the Island of Manhattan along the Financial District waterfront, the Regional Plan Association 2019 Assembly levied climate resiliency as an equity issue. Rebecca Karp and Joseph Sutkowi were part of the conversation at the event last week. We heard from visionary leaders like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont but some of the most energizing discussion came from two climate-focused panels. Leaders from the NorthLight Foundation, the New School, Rebuild by Design, joined New York State Assemblymember Nily Rozic and NYC Chief Resilience Officer Dan Zarilli for the Climate Justice for All panel. Discussion centered on stakeholder engagement and the importance of building coalitions for major climate resiliency projects.

Discussions with stakeholders are becoming standard in implementation projects. As a firm, we’re deeply embedded in this work and take pride in amplifying the voices of community members to find solutions that work for the community. Conversations with residents in particular, however, often happen after key decisions that set the direction of a project have been made. This can mean that they focus on mitigation of adverse effects rather than working with agencies and elected officials on setting an agenda from the very beginning.

As a firm active in resiliency engagement efforts across the region, we’re asking ourselves a series of key questions:

  • How do we build links between the policy advocacy community that so effectively pushes legislators and local officials with on-the-ground neighborhood organizations that have site-specific expertise that can be incorporated into planning and policy?

  • How can residents engage with the appropriations processes that make crucial decisions around the scope of projects and priorities in their neighborhood?

  • Given that resilience is more than simply an environmental issue, how do we ensure that we get advocates and experts on housing, public health, job creation, transportation and other fields to the table to address challenges and work in partnership with community members?

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