New York City Urban Field Station

Landscapes of Resilience

The Landscapes of Resilience Project explores the practices of community greening and environmental stewardship in the post-disturbance context of two US cities, Joplin, Missouri and New York City.  In May 2011, Joplin was devastated by an EF5 tornado. One year later in October 2012, New York experienced its own extreme storm event, when Hurricane Sandy landed on its shores.

While these cities have distinct features and unique experiences, the common thread of rebuilding life after disaster binds them. This research focuses on the capacity for community engagement in greening to contribute to the social resilience of affected places, as well as the importance of such green spaces in the context of city resilience strategies.


With funding provided by the TKF Foundation’s NatureSacred Program, this project couples site design and development with research in action. This means that researchers are uniquely positioned alongside both projects as they emerge and evolve over time. In Joplin, a butterfly garden was created as an open space for reflection and healing at Cunningham Park.  In New York, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property, B 41st Street Houses, in Rockaway NY is the setting where a community garden continues to undergo recovery in the aftermath of Sandy. The two projects are in different stages of their redevelopment and both provide a unique lens through which to examine the phases of the greening process. Joplin provides the opportunity to observe the outcomes of the new memorial space within an established town park, while the New York site is currently being redesigned through the efforts of committed residents with the support of an interdisciplinary research and design team.  


The New York City team includes researchers Lindsay Campbell, Erika Svendsen and Nancy Sonti of the Forest Service and Project Coordinator Renae Reynolds, Landscape Architect Victoria Marshall (Till Design), Lee Trotman and Elizabeth Gilcrest (NYCHA’s Gardening & Sustainability Unit) as well as design consultant and natural builder Craig Desmond (Ecotone Building) and collaborators at the New York Restoration Project (NYRP). The intention of the project in New York City is to continue to cultivate a network of people in support and care of this special place.


In order to understand the process necessary to create resilient communities and to further contribute to scholarship that will inform resiliency planning, several core research questions act as guide posts to our research: What helps to inspire, create, shape, operate, and maintain such places?   How do these spaces help communities recover and organize in the aftermath of a disturbance?


The LOR project emerged from the work of researchers Lindsay Campbell and Erika Svendsen in collaboration with Dr. Keith Tidball of Cornell University and with inspiration from our colleagues in the City of Joplin, Christopher Cotten, and Tracy Sooter, Nancy Chikaraishi and Jennifer Silva Brown from Drury University.  Funding for this project is provided by the TKF Foundation through the Nature Sacred Program: “Open Spaces Sacred Places".


Follow the design and development of the New York’s B41st Community Garden.


Learn more about the Joplin, Missouri Butterfly Garden.



For more background information on the genesis of the landscapes of resilience visit these links and watch these videos:

Cultivating Stewardship, Recovery and Resilience Workshop

The “Cultivating Stewardship, Recovery, and Resilience Workshop” was hosted by the NYC Urban Field Station in collaboration with the The Nature of Cities in New York City on June 7-9,  2016. The workshop was attended by a group of approximately 60 people interested in the social-ecological resilience of people and places within the urban-rural gradient.


The workshop was an interactive exploration into the role natural resource stewardship activities can play in helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disturbances (hurricane, floods, wildfire and tornadoes) or social disasters brought on by terrorist attacks, acts of violence or neighborhood disinvestment and marginalization. Whether facing the acute challenges associated with recovery or chronic stress related to disinvestment, the need for collective strategizing through knowledge exchange was a major focal point of our discussion.

During the convening the ground engaged in a field trip to Rockaway Peninsula, panel discussion and presentations, plenary discussion, and breakout group sessions.


Following the meeting, we created a shared platform on Slack where interested participants can work digitally to build upon the momentum of the Cultivating Stewardship, Recovery and Resilience Workshop.

Longer term next steps include building networks, creating training tools, and developing products and publications.  In so doing we continue our work on refining metrics and indicators, making connections to policymakers and funders, and conducting ongoing research that informs management and decision-making.