During the first week of February, the Office of Sustainability welcomed a Design and Resilience Team (DART) comprising of architects, designers, and city planners from around the country to host the Resilient PVD Lab. The experts, along with City leadership and roughly 200 community participants, gathered for three days to identify strategies for making Providence more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The final presentation is available online here and the final report can be accessed here.
Mayor Jorge Elorza highlighted the importance of the ResilientPVD Lab stating, “Being resilient means that Providence can recover quickly, adapt, and grow no matter what challenges we may face. From rising sea levels to more extreme weather, we must ensure that our city is prepared to face a changing climate.”
The event kicked off on Monday, February 1st with stakeholder meetings to discuss challenges and opportunities to help prepare Providence’s buildings, infrastructure, and neighborhoods for climate change. Issues such as green space, stormwater, social equity, and bikeability entered the spotlight as different parties raised questions and articulated concerns.
In the subsequent two days, the visiting team members contributed expertise from their respective fields and experiences. The final presentation, held in the evening on Wednesday, February 3, was bold, visionary, and, perhaps most importantly, achievable. The experts discussed the local public health risks of climate change, vulnerability factors that affect climate equity, the economic implications of development in the face of new challenges, and the importance of neighborhood-based resilience strategies.
The energy and excitement in the room were evidence that stakeholders and community members are committed to addressing climate resilience. The City continues to work on engaging a more diverse population, however. Roughly 84% of the registered attendees who disclosed their demographic information were white, while only 8% identified as Latino. Furthermore, approximately half of the participants indicated that they live either outside Providence or on the East Side. These metrics indicate that there is room for improvement in effectively engaging citizens who represent Providence’s full range of ethnic, racial, geographic, and socioeconomic diversity.
The Office of Sustainability and the Environmental Sustainability Task Force will now work will now work to incorporate the recommendations of the DART into Providence’s Sustainability Plan.