SCAPE’s Living Breakwaters Design and Implementation has included an extensive community engagement strategy with a focus on community participation, feedback and education. In addition to establishing a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the project that meets every few months at meetings open to the public, SCAPE has worked with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to develop materials, host a number of events, and participate in local events to provide information on the project, get feedback and generally engage different community stakeholders in the project design process. When it comes to public engagement, SCAPE combines tried-and-true public engagement techniques like community work sessions and charrettes, with non-traditional outreach sessions, like pop-up engagement booths on popular picnic weekends, family friendly plein-air park arts + visioning activities, urban ecology walks, and virtual reality/digital outreach tools.
These efforts have included developing interactive materials for Community Advisory Committee meetings to better describe and get feedback on different project elements. We have also held “science fair” style meetings that included “stations” for local organizations and initiatives that are doing work related to the project purpose.
SCAPE has hosted a number of “shore walks” with the CAC and interested community groups to discuss coastal risk and how the project will affect the shoreline. We supplemented these hosted walks with “shore tour” brochures on various aspects of the project that provide self-guided walking tours of the site (available at the nearby Park Visitor Center) with information on the proposed project or where and how to observe things relevant to the project such as coastal erosion in process, or site history.
We worked with The Conference House Park Administrator (NYC Parks) to set up a long term exhibit on the project at the Conference House Park Visitor’s Center (a short 5 min walk from the site) that provides visitors information on the project, why it is needed, what it will look like, and how it works, specifically how it reduces risk and enhances ecosystems.
In addition to project-specific events, we have taken opportunities to present the project, have information available on the project or provide opportunities to gather feedback at events hosted by local groups and organizations, in particular youth and citizen science events, including presentations and workshops at schools and universities who may take part in the educational programming that will be part of the project. We even hosted Virtual Reality Station where visitors could “explore a breakwater” at a pop-up in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to raise awareness and understanding of the project.
NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
Billion Oyster Project