Freshkills Park Blog

Social Resiliency to Climate Change


After Hurricane Sandy, volunteers at Queens Library in Far Rockaway distributed coats  (Photo: APF/ Getty Images, via NPR)

When Hurricane Sandy struck last October, the capacity of infrastructure to protect us suddenly became vital. As buildings crumbled and the roadways flooded, neighbors reached out to help one another and create impromptu community shelters. How can we foster these types of social support networks can help communities be more resilient to climate change?

Communities, even in large cities like New York, are remarkably good at coming together after disaster strikes according Rebecca Solnit, author of Paradise Built in Hell: the Extraordinary Communities That Arise from Disaster. In this work, Solnit focuses on many examples of extraordinary acts of kindness and selflessness that occurred after Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and other life-altering disasters.

A recent NY times article by Michael Kimmelman suggests that for these impromptu communities to be more effective at helping one another post disaster, they need a place where they can gather to exchange resources, news, and emotional support. This place just might be branch libraries. He argues that branch libraries not only make the communities more resilient to disaster, but also help enliven the community and draw together people of all ages and backgrounds whether or not disaster strikes.

Like branch libraries, public parks are community-forming spaces with opportunities for people to come together, formally and informally. Volunteers gather to document migratory birds or weed invasive species, kids play sports while their parents mingle, and park rangers share nature sightings with visitors. Might these interactions in parks also help build social capital? We saw the ecological role Freshkills Park played in buffering the west shore from Hurricane Sandy. Could the park also play a role in boosting social capital that will help our community adapt to climate change?

October 30, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Bloomberg Outlines 16 Initiatives to Make NYC Parks More Resilient

Coastal ecosystems, like sections of Freshkills Park (above), can provide a critical barrier to adjacent communities

Coastal ecosystems, like sections of Freshkills Park (above), can provide a critical barrier to adjacent communities

The comprehensive 438-page report, unveiled last week, represents the most significant series of forward-thinking initiatives and concrete proposals since Sandy. It builds on new data, also released recently by the Mayor’s office, which warns that New Yorkers will face even hotter summers, more rainfall, and more frequent major storm events. The plan, A Stronger More Resilient New York, will dictate how NYC prepares for flooding and storm surges moving forward, including challenges related to buildings, economic recovery, community preparedness, insurance, utilities, telecommunications, healthcare, transportation, and parks (pdf).

The parks chapter omits Freshkills Park specifically (Freshkills is not yet mapped as parkland), though the site’s protective attributes – its mounds and wetlands – were well recorded post-Sandy. Wetlands in particular are thoroughly extolled for their flood mitigation capabilities. Building on the critical importance of areas like Jamaica Bay, the report outlines new initiatives to support coastal ecosystems and reintroduce improved natural barriers to many sections of the 520-mile NYC coastline.

“Wetlands, streams, forests and other natural areas offer substantial sustainability and resiliency benefits. The protection and restoration of these natural areas is, therefore, of critical importance.”

Within the 16 schemes in the parks chapter, wetland restoration complements other proposals that will design new bulkheads, fortify existing piers, and relocate vulnerable infrastructure, among many other initiatives.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freshkills Park featured in the New York Times!


Freshkills Park just received a great write-up in the New York Times!  The piece, available in print today and online here, written by architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, emphasizes the Park’s role in buffering surrounding communities from the impact of Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge. As a site still in-progress, Freshkills Park is already proving itself to be an important asset for local Staten Islanders, and for New Yorkers in general.

The article is accompanied by a great seven-minute video that features Freshkills Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh touring the site with Kimmelman.  The video tour provides an opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

December 18, 2012 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment



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