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The Road Less Traveled to True Resilience

Today HUD announced the winning proposals for Rebuild by Design, a design competition dedicated to identifying innovative solutions to protect communities affected by Superstorm Sandy. We are excited at the amount of investment many deserving communities will receive as a result of this competition, and are thrilled that several non-traditional solutions will be implemented as part of the race to create resilience.

But the winning proposals are more immediate, site-specific solutions. Sasaki’s regionally focused proposal, which addressed several communities along the Jersey Shore, was not funded. Neither were the other two regional proposals, submitted by the WXY/West 8 team and HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners.

Today is a great win for many. But for true resilience, we still need to navigate the knotty, inconvenient, and long road less traveled.

Realistic resilience planning must incorporate strategic planning, coalition building, and market analysis—none of which is exciting, obvious, or quick. Furthermore, the threat of sea level rise and storm surge knows no political bounds. For true resilience, we simply must operate at the regional scale of the rising sea or a storm’s destruction.

Through our own recovery work, we’ve struggled with the limited capacity of small, individual communities to solve the significant, complex problems that climate change poses. Similarly, the communities our proposal addresses are small and politically fractured. But collectively, they represent a larger population—and the economic engine of an entire state.

Through a long-term regional plan, we enable these communities to plan proactively to prepare for disasters, support each other in recovery, and advocate successfully at the federal level.

We are encouraged by the relationships we developed through the Rebuild by Design process and the support we’ve received. Although our proposal will not be funded by HUD, we hope other funding sources will surface.

We’re ready to take the road less traveled, because we know it will make all the difference. Who’s with us?

Photograph above: Community parade for resilience in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

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