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: