Resilience against flooding no longer means “building it back” behind sheeting and shoring.

Integral to the seven New York area Rebuild by Design projects that Congress funded following Superstorm Sandy (2012) was HUD’s requirement that social justice, ecnomic justice and environmental compatability must be designed into the process of rebuilding flood-prone communities.

New York Univeristy sociology professor Eric Klinenberg, Rebuild by Design’s research director, explains in Palaces for the People (2017) that “social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life.”

Social infrastructure is Klinenberg’s term for physical places and organizations that “foster contact, mutual spport and collaoration among friends of neighbors,” e.g., sensitively designed and creatively staffed public libraries and carefully conceived parks.

He points to Rebuild by Design’s planned underwater, offshore reef to protect the tip of Staten Island from punishing Atlantic Ocean wave action from the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to hard infrastructure, the Living Breakwaters project “includes an ambitious education program to teach how econological citizenship can mitigate future climate threats.” More.