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MAS’s Resilience Agenda

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Resilience is a crucial attribute that allows thriving cities to quickly adapt to change and capitalize on opportunities. Building upon the social, economic and environmental capacity of our neighborhoods is critical to ensuring the future resilience of our communities, the City and the region. The work of the Municipal Art Society is to create various forms of ‘connective tissue’ amongst city agencies, community members, and resilience practitioners, to develop a network of resilience builders throughout the city, creating a web – a safety net – to equip us to adapt to future challenges of all kinds.

Throughout its history, MAS has led advocacy campaigns that champion the elements of the city that make it livable, and developed civic tools that engage people at the community and citywide level to contribute to the planning and development decisions that affect them.  MAS’s resilience agenda, initiated in 2010, emphasizes the need for a holistic resilience agenda; one that strengthens assets that attract and retain New York City’s diverse, creative, and thriving population while preparing the city for shocks and strains of all kinds.

October 16, 2010 Conference on Preservation & Climate Change in NYC 

In the winter of 2009, MAS hosted a series of roundtable discussions with an interdisciplinary group of experts in order to find common ground between the goals of historic preservation, urban sustainability, green building and climate change policies. The roundtables were followed in October 2010, by our Conference on Preservation and Climate Change in New York City co-hosted by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.  The conference brought together policy makers, architects, environmentalists, planners, preservationists and others to explore how preservation can be integrated into New York City’s climate change, green building and sustainability agendas. The goal of the conference was to find common ground across disciplines and seek to advance both the fields of sustainability and preservation.

October 2010 MAS Summit 

The 2010 MAS Summit marked the beginning of The Municipal Art Society’s commitment to resilience programming. With an audience of more than 600 participants drawn from the civic, corporate and foundation sectors across the city, the Summit was the first major gathering of its kind to be held in New York. Over two days, more than 75 speakers, including policy makers, academics, business and civic leaders, developers and community activists, presented an exciting conference that included 20 unique sessions on livability and resilience, the built environment and the future of New York.

October 2010 Annual Survey on Livability

The MAS Survey on Livability, conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion and funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, has been conducted annually since 2010. The survey questions focus on resilience building by asking residents about their overall satisfaction with life in New York; whether individual neighborhoods provide adequate access to public transportation and affordable housing and offer sufficient community and cultural amenities like libraries, parks, museums and theaters; and what New Yorkers think the city should invest in going forward.

November 5-9, 2012  Building a global network of practitioners for livable and resilient cities

Initially planned well before Sandy, with venue support from the Rockefeller Foundation, MAS convened urban practitioners from cities around the world (Amsterdam, Bandung, Delhi, Hong Kong, Karachi, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Nairobi, New York City, Paris, Rio, Toronto) working to make cities more livable and resilient, leading to the creation of the MAS Urban Innovators Network.

December 13, 2012 New York City Sink or Swim: Principles and Priorities for Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era

Less than two months after Superstorm Sandy, MAS joined with the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) at Columbia University to co-host New York City Sink or Swim: Principles and Priorities for Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era.  Keynote speakers from the U.S. Federal government and the Netherlands Delta Commission presented ideas for technical infrastructure and financial strategies to mitigate the effects of future ‘shocks,’ and highlighted the need for a series of driving principles for resilience.

December 14, 2012 Fostering Urban Resilience and Innovation

Bringing together a consortium of thought leaders from leading urban-focused organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada, MAS organized Fostering Urban Resilience and Innovation with practitioners, academics and foundation leaders to discuss the challenges of merging the urban livability and resilience agendas in cities across North America.

January 11-12, 2013 Charting the Road to Resilience: From the Ground Up

Providing a forum for New York’s community leaders, urban planning and design professionals, scientists, academics, and government officials to share information and identify opportunities for consensus and collaboration, MAS convened Charting the Road to Resilience: From the Ground Up.  The event included community-led site visits on Friday, January 11 in neighborhoods impacted by Sandy, followed by a day-long convening of plenaries and working discussion groups hosted at The New School.  Planned in collaboration with more than 80 partners from New York and New Orleans, The Road to Resilience: From the Ground Up fostered an early conversation about the lessons learned from Sandy and identified principles to guide recovery and planning efforts.

Resilience Roundtables

Since Sandy, MAS convenes a monthly NYC Resilience Roundtable, providing a forum for information sharing and collaboration across sectors and disciplines, and a platform to develop plans and approaches that build the economic, social, cultural and economic resilience of New York City.

May 11, 2013 Livable Neighborhoods 

As part of a broad civic agenda, MAS hosts the Livable Neighborhoods Training at least two times a year. The Livable Neighborhoods training provides community board members, grassroots organizers, and engaged citizens with community planning skills and tools in order to equip them with the capacity to implement neighborhood-based projects and plans.  In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, this year’s Livable Neighborhoods training included the first resilience track in order to build the resilience capacity of NYC neighborhoods. Participants also have access to the Livable Neighborhoods Training Toolkit, an in-depth online resource on community planning in New York City.

March and April, 2013 Mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding & Resiliency (SIRR) Community Workshops  

MAS supported the NYC Mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding & Resiliency (SIRR) outreach program by recruiting over 150 volunteer facilitators for 11 community-based workshops conducted in the key neighborhoods affected by Superstorm Sandy. These workshops provided a first step for affected communities to identify priorities for rebuilding and recovery.

June 19, 2013 The Road Forward: Putting Resilience into Action 

Following the release of the SIRR report in early June, MAS held a convening to provide a forum for the SIRR team to present their recommendations; and an opportunity for stakeholders and resilience practitioners to take a critical look at the recommendations and to discuss strategies and roles for implementation moving forward.

July 18, 2013 Building Back Better: NY Rising Storm Recovery Conference 

Governor Cuomo held a conference to launch New York State’s community-driven recovery program: NY Rising Community Reconstruction program.  Inviting officials, residents, and organizations from the Planning Committees in each of the 102 towns involved in the program, the conference provided an overview of the NY Rising program and strategies for building the resiliency of the towns.  Mary Rowe from MAS spoke in the “Planning for Urban Resilience: Challenges and Opportunities,” session discussing the value of granular approaches to resilience, and emphasizing the need for a holistic and inclusive process.  The goal of the NY Rising Community Reconstruction program is to empower localities to develop and implement recovery plans after the damage done by Sandy, Irene, and Lee.

June 2013 – March 2014 Rebuild by Design Challenge

The federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force recently launched a new challenge for our region: Rebuild by Design.  Requesting qualifications from diverse, multi-stakeholder teams, the Rebuild by Design competition is intended to inspire innovative planning and design approaches to building resilience in the Sandy-impacted region. MAS is working with our partners – including HUD, The Rockefeller Foundation, Van Alen Institute, Regional Plan Association, and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge – to support the Rebuild by Design Competition process and engage diverse stakeholders across the region throughout the process.