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Coordinating Resilience Efforts for New York City

Road Forward Toward Resilience

Building the resilience of New York City requires ongoing collaboration between stakeholders and a collective culture shift towards preparation and education. The Municipal Art Society of New York’s ongoing resilience programs seek to accomplish these goals by creating mechanisms for coordination and building the capacity of NYC’s neighborhoods to develop innovative strategies to make their communities more resilient.

On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 MAS hosted The Road Forward: Putting Resilience into Action at The New School.  This convening provided a forum for public discussion about the over 250 recommendations outlined in the recently released Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) report: A Stronger More Resilient New York. The event began with presentations by Jamie Springer, SIRR’s Deputy Director of Communities, and Tokumbo Shobowale, SIRR’s Director of Infrastructure and Built Environment, that provided an overview of the recommendations set forth by the SIRR report.  Participants then split up into breakout discussion groups to give specific feedback and raise concerns about everything from utilities and transportation to implementation.

With the report back from these groups, many smart ideas and important concerns were raised.  Groups were primarily focused on finding ways to integrate efforts across levels of government and community organizations as well as ensuring there is sufficient support to build the capacity of the communities to participate in the resilience-building process.  With the SIRR team and other crucial members of New York City staff charged with implementation present during the debrief, groups discussed concerns such as the effect of rebuilding and resilience measures on the affordability of our homes and office spaces, the need to incorporate job creation and goals of economic growth into the implementation process, and how we can determine ways to leverage alternative fuel sources.

In the final panel, Seth Pinsky, Director of SIRR, Jamie Rubin, New York State Director of the Federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and Seth Diamond, Director of Storm Recovery for New York State, answered audience questions about fostering collaboration between tiers of government and society. Creating a resilient and livable New York requires a web of connections, strengthening the ability of all parts of the city to flexibly adapt and respond to challenges.  The SIRR report laid out a framework, based on extensive data and analysis for the future of New York.  But developing a truly resilient New York requires an all-hands on deck approach including city agencies, institutions, neighborhood residents, experts, academia, as well as the creative and entrepreneurial communities in the resiliency process to generate innovation and increase the capacity of our neighborhoods and communities.  As stated by Seth Pinsky, “This problem is too big; we cannot afford not to do anything.”