FOUNDATION SHIFT: Reimagining disaster

A research project and design proposal to reimagine resilience and disaster recovery in the Rockaways, Queens.

As part of the Spring 2018 Design & Urban Ecologies Studio at Parsons, I collaborated with six graduate students to design interventions reimagining disaster recovery in the Rockaways. Through historical, spatial, and qualitative analysis combined with participatory research methods, we delved into how Hurricane Sandy exacerbated disparities and socio-spatial fractures in the Rockaways, opening the door for predatory disaster capitalism. Our research also illuminated how current notions of “resilience planning” define “disaster recovery” in a narrow, technocratic way, failing to recognize the importance of social infrastructure networks in making a community resilient to the afterlives of racialized planning and neglect.

My team’s design proposal, the Office of Resilience and Racial Equity, imagines a new model of governance that reframes resilience planning for a more equitable and representative future through institutional restructuring. Shifting from colorblind, expert-driven “technologies of resilience,” our model is rooted in a reparations framework that recognizes structural racism as a root cause of inequality that leaves particular communities more vulnerable to disaster. Our proposal expands funding opportunities and opens up new channels for collective participation, granting residents most directly impacted by disaster greater control over funding allocation and the future of their communities.