The influence of urban development dynamics on community resilience practice in New York City after Superstorm Sandy: Experiences from the Lower East Side and the Rockaways

Leigh Graham, Wim Debucquoy, Isabelle Anguelovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd While (urban) resilience has become an increasingly popular concept, especially in the areas of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA), it is often still used as an abstract metaphor, with much debate centered on definitions, differences in approaches, and epistemological considerations. Empirical studies examining how community-based organizations (CBOs) “practice” resilience on the ground and what enables these CBOs to organize and mobilize around resilience are lacking. Moreover, in the growing context of competitive and entrepreneurial urbanism and conflicting priorities about urban (re)development, it is unclear how urban development dynamics influence community-based resilience actions. Through empirical research conducted on the Lower East Side, a gentrifying neighborhood in Manhattan, and in Rockaway, a socio-spatially isolated neighborhood in Queens, we investigate community organizing of low-income residents for (climate) resilience in a post-disaster context. Results show that both the operationalization of resilience – how resilience is “practiced” – and the community capacity to organize for the improved resilience of low-income residents are strongly influenced by pre-existing urban development dynamics and civic infrastructure – the socio-spatial networks of community-based organizations – in each neighborhood. The Lower East Side, with its long history of community activism and awareness of gentrification threats, was better able to mobilize broadly and collectively around resilience needs while the more socio-spatially isolated neighborhoods on the Rockaway peninsula were more constrained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-124
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume40
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Civic infrastructure
  • Community organizing
  • Disaster recovery
  • Resilience
  • Superstorm Sandy
  • Urban development

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