Greater New Orleans faces ongoing sea level rise and climate change and continued coastal land loss, while the August 2017 rainfall events and extensive street flooding affected thousands of New Orleans residents, and served as this year’s reminder of the many risks that this region’s citizens face day to day, even within the levees. At the same time, collective frustration with the state of catch basins and pump stations, strident campaigns to “fix my streets!” in response to broken roadways, the advent of funding for resilience projects such as the $141 million Gentilly Resilience District, and $2.4 billion in FEMA dedicated to road repairs in the coming years suggest that finding a way to build infrastructure and water planning around community-based processes is imperative if greater New Orleans is to thrive. That is, the scale of the repairs and adaptations that are necessary requires entire communities to “buy in,” and that only exists where a community plays a meaningful role in defining the future that they’re asked to invest in.
We will take a look at stormwater management systems in New Orleans, conventional community engagement practices, and ways in which community engagement can be reframed and strengthened to support broader and deeper engagement in the planning and design of stormwater infrastructure. Through readings, case studies, visits to infrastructure and project sites, and workshops with stakeholders who play a role in shaping water infrastructure today, we will build a base of knowledge with which to propose and provide the following:
A CRITIQUE of present-day community engagement practices that highlights broader structural issues as well as mechanical and logistical deficiencies that limit participation
AN ANALYSIS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND THE STREET as the appropriate scale at
which to bring together residents, public partners, and NGOs to advance infrastructure planning and empower citizens to play an active role in defining what “living with water” means for them and for New Orleans
PROTOTYPES OF INTERACTIVE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND DESIGN TOOLS for neighborhood-scale projects. With the aid of community partners, we will test these tools to see if they can structure rich and meaningful conversations between designers, residents, and other stakeholders, and to see if they enable residents and stakeholders to share their knowledge, questions, concerns, and ideas in relation to specific project sites.
DESIGN CONCEPTS FOR AN EXHIBITION that expands our collective understanding of the role that citizens can play in determining the future of the city’s water infrastructure.