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Scale It Up: Asbury Park

Scale It Up: Asbury Park was part of Rebuild by Design (RBD), a competition to address the structural and environmental vulnerabilities that Hurricane Sandy exposed in communities throughout the northeast region and developing fundable solutions to better protect residents from future climate events.

In Asbury Park, New Jersey, Van Alen Institute teamed up with community leaders to produce “Rebuild One City,” a participatory parade and reception celebrating community resilience and new strategies to protect Asbury Park from future storms. The parade aimed to bridge the divide between the city’s east and west sides and to highlight the design teams’ proposals for re-designing coastal lakes, streets, dunes, and the boardwalk. The parade ended in a “resilience fair” highlighting work from local organizations to make Asbury Park more resilient.

The fair featured the following:

  • An exhibit of final proposals from two design teams working in Asbury Park and around the region
  • A free coastal plant giveaway, symbolically distributing species typically found along the beach throughout the city, sponsored by American Littoral Society and Rare Find Nursery sponsored
  • Audio excerpts from Monmouth University’s Hurricane Sandy Oral History Project
  • An interactive mapping stations showing disaster preparedness information, sponsored by Monmouth County Division of Planning
  • An installation on the theme of resilience created by middle school students at Hope Academy
  • Performances from Lakehouse Music Academy students, St Stephen gospel choir, youth group Eloquent Orators, and others


About Scale it Up

Van Alen Institute was one of four New York-based nonprofits selected to develop and manage Rebuild by Design, an initiative of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Scale it Up was a series of public events for the project held throughout the region to engage the broadest possible public around the theme of resilience.

Produced by Van Alen Institute, Scale it Up was designed to achieve multiple goals:

  • Engage key stakeholders in a planning group to develop and produce each event
  • Make the work of RBD design teams immediate and tangible through hands-on activities or temporary interventions in the built environment
  • Attract diverse audiences, including those that might not normally participate in design and planning workshops, through performances, music, participatory workshops, and other tools
  • Support local planning and design initiatives to promote resilience or strengthen communities, in order to leverage each one-day program to have a larger impact after its completion.

Based on geographic and demographic diversity and the involvement of one or more design teams in the area, Rebuild by Design selected five locations to host these events:  Asbury Park, New Jersey; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Far Rockaway (Queens), the Lower East Side (Manhattan), and Staten Island’s North Shore in New York City.

Beginning in December, in each community Van Alen Institute invited local residents, nonprofit staff, business owners, and government officials – many of whom were learning about Rebuild by Design for the first time – to participate in planning an event centered around the theme of resilience as they defined that term. Over the next 2-3 months, Van Alen convened regular Scale it Up planning meetings while also coordinating closely with the design teams. This process ensured that each event had elements uniquely tailored to local communities that were also tied to themes and strategies proposed by the teams. Stakeholders felt greater investment in the larger RBD project, while the design teams were able to incorporate input from the Scale it Up planning meetings or adjust their outreach meetings accordingly.

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