Sandy+3 – the View from Garden Street, Hoboken

October 29, 2015

harbor 5
An embarrassment of rebuilding riches have emerged from the pile of sludge and unusable earthly possessions that superstorm Sandy left in her wake. Hardening of hospitals, protection for public transit, rebuilding of residences from single-family units up to large housing projects, are all underway across New York and New Jersey. There is a lot of progress. However, some of the cultural trends established in 20th century ‘Merica, unfortunately, are still proceeding unchecked. Before we pat ourselves too firmly on the back we need to better balance our approach to resilience.

The vulnerabilities that we face from superstorms and from climate change in general can be divided into two categories: physical and social. The approach that seems most embedded in our society’s collective response to Sandy (and perhaps to Katrina before) is very much focused on the physical: it’s the storm doors and gates to secure openings, it is the walls and the dunes to keep the water at bay, and it’s the pumps to get the water out after it comes in.

+2 sandy 4But in this focus on the physical we seem to be relegating some of the greatest successes from Sandy’s wake to a backstory that risks disappearing from our collective memory. In our town, part of that strategy to reduce social vulnerability was the burst of growth that our local Community Emergency Response Team enjoyed. In other places like the Rockaways it was more of a crowd-sourced response such as Occupy Sandy, in others more community-focused such as that catalyzed by the Red Hook Initiative.

At the myriad meetings happening every night about rebuilding, the debates are ongoing. Rigid walls or living berms? Where should the alignment be? How much freeboard? There is much, much less discussion about the spectrum of social mechanisms that can help communities work together. If CERT, as an outgrowth of our Emergency Management framework, is at one end of the spectrum of “Organizations” then perhaps Occupy Sandy is at the other. There are many, many hybrids in between. The more communities understand the range and the specific roles to play, the more they can organize now, enabling them and all of us to be better prepared before the wave breaks over us next time.

With our focus on rebuilding now, we suffer a similar myopia when it comes to better understanding and planning for the long term maintenance, operations and stewardship of these new infrastructures. What will be the maintenance budget and where will those funds come? We should know better by now. One need only look around the U.S. and see how many bridges from the last 100 years we have that are clearly not in a state of good repair. Now, instead of patting Congress on the back for shaping a short term Budget agreement with the President that barely gets us through the next election, we should be castigating everyone in Washington for their failure to adequately fund infrastructure and especially infrastructure maintenance over the past 30 years. Rebuilding after Sandy it looks like we are just adding more infrastructure to this pile.

But money is only part of the problem. The best way to address this larger issue of physical resiliency is by proactively cultivating greater social resilience. We cannot forget that in an area-wide emergency situation it is not possible for our emergency services to respond to everything, as we are so accustomed to them being able to do. But an educated, engaged and empowered new generation of citizens can help meet the range of needs that arise. In addition to just rebuilding, we need to teach and inspire more self-reliance and more activism. We need more residents who know how to shelter in place. Then these neighbors are better equipped to be, on a practical level, the “first” responder to a neighbor in need.

To get to greater social resilience we need to understand that bureaucratic approaches with large NGOs and agencies don’t always function well at the neighborhood level. They aren’t necessarily a comfort for every community. Do they help fill important needs? Of course. But we need more CERT, Occupy, and the whole spectrum of community approaches including faith-based, civic, tenant, block and other more organic approaches.

We have to remember that a viable long-term recovery leads to a suite of finished projects in a state of good repair that we as society can ably fund and staff. The protections have to be spread around based on need, not just ability-to-pay. This level of operations, maintenance and stewardship demands a much larger and more diverse labor force to effectively manage the hard- soft- and everything-in-between types of infrastructure we are rushing to rebuild.

Finally, let’s not get lost in the debates over hard “versus” soft infrastructure. We need more of all of it. We debated this on the sidewalk last week in front of the New School. “With all this green infrastructure,” said an old friend, “are we really just creating more jobs for landscapers?” The answer is, well, yes. But we also have to take a step back and realize that an expanded labor force that better understands soil, sunlight, rain events and extreme weather brings big benefits. These people become the roots of resilience on every urban block, by the bioswale, in the community garden and up on the green roof. With focused education, engagement, and empowerment this becomes the generation that takes us from outsourced maintenance contracts to overall better, and more local, community stewardship. It will yield a more resilient society.

Still not convinced about the benefits of social resilience? Think of it this way: all the hardware in the world won’t save ‘Merica if we don’t better equip and engage our people.

Backup generator feed into Emergency Operations Center, Hoboken City Hall 2012

Backup generator feed into Emergency Operations Center, Hoboken City Hall 2012

Power supply feed into the Emergency Operations Center, Hoboken City Hall, October 2012

7th Annual Pizza Derby a Saucy, Cheesy Success!

October 6, 2015

Pizza-Derby-Fundraiser-Logo-2015This year’s Pizza Derby raised almost $2,000 for two great Hoboken communities.

As event organizer and sponsor Outside New York is happy and proud to share 100% of the proceeds between annual host The Community Church of Hoboken and Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, two of our most favorite places and communities in town! This year’s event net almost 50% more than last year. (WOOOT!) Thank you all for your support!

We must give BIG, BIG thanks to our donors:

  • A&P
  • Classic Harbor Line
  • The Craft Family
  • Empire Coffee & Tea
  • 14th Street Garden Center
  • Mauseth Design
  • Resilience Adventures
  • 10th & Willow

and of course BIG, BIG thanks to our supporting pizzerias

  • The Brick
  • Giovanni’s
  • Mario’s
  • Napoli’s

And none of this could happen without our event volunteers!

Malky Adelman, Ila Christian, Jeremy Christian, Julyne Christian, Stephanie Craft, Joe DelGiodice, Kay Gimmestad, Patricia Gouris, Rev. Marvin Krieger, Hamilton Mackwan, Frank Merle, Eli Rivera, Don Sheffrin, Gerard Sova

See you in 2016!

Updated: Urban Assembly New York Harbor School Seeks Consultant to Develop “Marine Master Plan”

April 2, 2015

flupsy and bldg 134 - afterupdated July 21, 2015

The New York City Department of Education has released an RFP for a “Marine Master Plan.” The RFP announcement is available here:

  • RFP TITLE: Planning and Engineering for Urban Assembly New York Harbor School (UANYHS)
  • RFP NUMBER: R1059
  • NEW RFP DUE DATE & TIME:  May 12, 2015 August 6, 2015 by 1:00 P.M. ET
  • PRE-PROPOSAL CONFERENCE:  April 20, 2015, at 2:30 P.M. ET   held May 1, 2015 at 2:30 P.M. ET

“The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), on behalf of the Office of the Division of School Facilities seeks proposals to provide marine and engineering services. These services will result in a 3 year requirements contract tentatively commencing in 2015/2016.  One contract will be awarded.

“Proposals must outline a plan to provide to develop a Marine Master Plan for the UANYHS. As part of this work, the firm will be asked to produce routine structural assessment reports and sub-surface investigations at three locations affiliated with UANYHS. Proposer must possess at least three years’ experience in providing the required services while satisfying all the provisions in Section 2 of the RFP.

In order to access this RFP you will need to register as a potential NYC DOE vendor.  “Login to the Vendor Portal to download RFP R1059.  If you cannot download this RFP, please send an e-mail to with the RFP number and title in the subject.  For all questions related to this RFP, please send an e-mail to with the RFP number and title in the subject line of your e-mail.

October 25 Tour – Hoboken Three Years After Sandy: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

October 16, 2015

Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.

+2 sandy 3
There is a $230M flood control project underway to help protect Hoboken and adjacent areas of Weehawken and Jersey City. For this bus or self-guided walking tour you can join experts from Stevens Institute of Technology, North Hudson Sewerage Authority, and the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection involved in the project. Over 90 minutes you will see and hear from local residents about what happened three years ago when almost 500 million gallons of water surged into town, and then get the perspective of planning and engineering experts about what they are doing now to prevent another such disastrous event.

Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page to secure your spot. Limited space available on the bus.

Join us for the 7th Annual Hoboken Pizza Derby!

September 22, 2015


It’s a tasty competition! A variety of pizzas are ordered simultaneously. Delivery time, arrival temperature and the discretion of your palate are all recorded in your scoring sheet as you sample the pizza fare. Rate the crust, tastiness of sauce, freshness of toppings, and other factors. Winning pie gets Extra Large bragging rights for the next year.

This year’s event is Saturday October 3 from 4-7pm. Suggested donation of $25 per adult + $10 per child. All Pizza, beverages, entertainment and dessert are included. Proceeds are split between two local charities, including the Community Church of Hoboken Building Fund and this year’s co-beneficiary the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse

Raffles! Entertainment! Arbitrary Culinary Self Indulgence [within limits]! The Best Climbing Tree in Town! (supervision required) Thank you for your past support and hope to see you at this year’s event. Nominations to the Menu will be accepted beginning September 23.

Piano Concert May 10 Features Celebrated Duo

May 4, 2015
piano duo

Join us in Hoboken this Sunday for a special event.  This unique duo, recognized as “remarkable enternainers,” combines the cultural heritages and temperaments of Latin America and Eastern Europe.  Sometimes four hands and two pianos, and sometimes as four hands playing a single piano, this exciting and engaging duo is bringing a vast repertoire ranging from Baroque to newly commissioned works for a family-friendly audience of all ages in Hoboken on Sunday May 10, 2015.  Tickets are available at


Mexican pianist Citlalli Guevara and Bulgarian pianist Slavina Zhelezova, both winners of prestigious international competitions and awards, began their musical collaboration in 2008 as two young pianists in the highly competitive Bell’arte Foundation Program based in Brussels. Working closely under the tutelage of Nelson delle Vigne Fabbri and Philippe Entremont, the two immediately bonded based on their shared vision for the unique artistic potential of the music for duo piano. The duo debuted to a standing ovation at the Palm Beach International Piano Festival in February 2009.

Sponsored by Outside New York and hosted by The Community Church of Hoboken at 600 Garden Street, Hoboken NJ, 07030. Tickets available at:

Rebuild By Design public hearings update!

January 7, 2015

Rebuild By Design, an initiative of the President’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, has released dates for upcoming public hearings for the BIG U (Manhattan) and Hunts Point Lifelines (The Bronx) Projects.

Let your voice be heard!  Voice your comments on the BIG U and Hunts Point Lifelines projects to ensure that your community’s vision for resilience becomes a reality.


January 6, 7:00 pm

SIUH North Campus, Regina McGinn Education and Conference Center

475 Seaview Avenue, Staten Island


January 7, 7:00 pm

Beach Channel High School Auditorium

1000 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park


January 8, 7:00 pm

Coney Island Hospital Auditorium

2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn


January 13, 7:00 pm

Hunts Point Recreation Center Gymnasium

765 Manida Street, Bronx


January 15, 7:00 pm

Education Alliance, Manny Cantor Center 6th Floor

197 East Broadway, Manhattan




For more information on the public hearings, click here.

For more on the projects and Rebuild By Design, click here.



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