On June 19th and July 24th, planners from the Regional Plan Association and organizers from Make the Road New York (MRNY) held community workshops with residents of central Queens. These workshops were the second and third respectively in a series of meetings to collaboratively develop strategies to mitigate the effects on the health and livelihoods of extreme temperatures in winter and summer months. The process is also building, MRNY’s capacity in the area of climate change adaptation. This participatory planning method is vital for building strategies that MRNY and the Queens community will own and advocate for going forward.
The second workshop focused on personal health and safety in homes. Issues ranging from stress caused by extreme temperatures and conflicts which stem from unhealthy housing conditions were also discussed. The third workshop covered strategies to prevent flooding and sewage overflow by maintaining green areas and using more permeable pavements. During this workshop residents raised the importance of training for Green Jobs, especially those aimed to save energy, as well as the importance of cooling centers.
These workshops have been an opportunity for both MRNY and RPA to connect authentically with Queens residents in order to provide necessary tools and resources they need in order to become better equipped to tackle issues of climate change in their communities.
Participants shared ongoing programs that MRNY has coordinated regarding health and public space maintenance. The final strategies will build upon these programs in order to improve and strengthen them. This information exchange adds value to participatory planning methods, which opens space for the exchange of experiential and technical expertise and knowledge-co production. Strategies that focused on education and training for green jobs were especially well received among community members. Residents pointed out that these strategies can bring duel benefits of improving their livelihoods while helping mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change.
The participatory workshops are being complemented with other tools including quantitative surveys, official data analysis, meetings with anchor institutions and the expertise of RPA planners that, when combined, produces a plan tailored to the needs of the Queens community. This plan will assist MRNY to build capacity to address its pressing challenges with regards to climate change and environmental sustainability.