Environmental Resiliency and Disaster Recovery

From extreme heat to more frequent and intense storms, the effects of climate change  are already being felt in the LES. Our neighborhood has a mixture of environmental and social conditions that make it particularly vulnerable: most of the LES, and the majority of our public housing, is located on former marshland. Combined with aging infrastructure, loss of utility services due to landlord negligence, and a large concentration of community members who would need extra support in the event of a disaster – we must work to prepare ourselves.

Community resilience is defined as the ability of a community to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations. At GOLES, we also recognize how rising rents, gentrification, and displacement negatively impact resiliency by breaking up community ties and long-standing support networks. Through organizing, trainings, visioning sessions, and policy work GOLES seeks to strengthen the resilience of the LES at the individual, building-wide, and community levels. We accomplish this as follows:

Community Preparedness
GOLES offers trainings and technical assistance to support community members in the creation of disaster and resiliency plans for their homes, buildings, and neighborhood. We also provide seasonal trainings (e.g. Hurricane, Winter, Extreme Heat) and trainings for audiences with specific needs (e.g. elders, pet-owners, etc). On a building-wide level, we work with residents to improve resilience through the following categories: energy; communications; food & water; health and wellness; and mobility.

As co-founders and leading members of LESReady! - The Lower East Side's Long Term Recovery Group - we  collaborate with community organizations, faith-based institutions, and buildings to strengthen our collective capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters in the Lower East Side.

Resilient Infrastructure
GOLES work with community members on the following projects to elevate their voices, concerns, and ideas:

Coastal Resilience
As part of the Rebuild By Design contest in 2014, GOLES engaged community members to help create a vision for coastal resilience. We helped LES residents secure $335 million in coastal resilience from 23rd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge.
As the city advances these projects, now known as the East Side Coastal Resilience Project (23rd St - Montgomery St) and Lower Manhattan Coastal Resilience Project (Montgomery St - Brooklyn Bridge), GOLES continues to work to keep residents informed and ensure their continued input.

NYCHA Sandy Recovery
Following Sandy, several Sandy-impacted developments in the Lower East Side were awarded funding by FEMA for repair and renovations. GOLES works with NYCHA tenant associations in the Lower East Side to support them in “Sandy Task Force” meetings to make sure NYCHA residents have the technical assistance and support necessary to make informed decisions and address their concerns.

Beyond the Grid
A Project to bring energy and communications self-reliance to our community in the Lower East Side through a community-controlled electric Microgrid. GOLES works with the Beyond The Grid team to support engaging community members in the project, building its visibility, and troubleshooting emerging policy barriers.

Coalition Building
GOLES works in coalition with LESReady!, the Energy Democracy Alliance, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, NY Renews, and other groups to address city and state policies to strengthen the resilience of NYC neighborhoods, specifically low-income neighborhoods and communities of color most vulnerable to disasters and the effects of climate change, as well the NYC and NY State as a whole.

For more information on how to get involved in GOLES’ Resiliency work, contact Michael Molina at Michael@goles.org or call 212-533-2541 ext 29.