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Building Resilience During COVID-19

On a balmy summer Saturday in the Bronx on the corner of Kingsbridge Road, the sidewalk is bustling with socially-distant activity. A collection of volunteer designers and neighbors diligently assemble donated plywood to construct a sidewalk barrier that will provide the beloved Tropical Rotisserie eatery with much needed outside seating, in the wake of COVID-19.

The pandemic has driven both a health and economic crisis in many of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.  This past spring, we asked ourselves, how could we mobilize our network of designers and other professionals to assist fellow New Yorkers with reopening and recovery efforts?

In collaboration with Urban Design Forum, we launched Neighborhoods Now to help community partners in Bed-Stuy, Kingsbridge, Jackson Heights, Washington Heights and Lower Manhattan, confront their most pressing challenges. As winter sets in, it’s clear this work is far from over. We hope you will consider helping us continue this critical support through the spring by making a donation today.

Neighborhoods Now helps  fellow New Yorkers sustain their lives and their livelihoods during this crisis. Our network of “design first responders”—as described in Monocle’s Urbanist podcast—banded together to create public realm plans, assist with permitting, design multilingual signage with safety protocols, provide legal advice on lease negotiations, and more.

Donate today to respond to communities’ new and evolving needs. We look forward to sharing more hopeful scenes of neighborhood recovery and to the day when we can safely celebrate our city’s indomitable spirit of creativity and resilience.

Thanks for your support,

Deborah Marton
Executive Director, Van Alen Institute

Paint and Plant event in Jackson Heights, July 25, 2020. Photo: Sam Lahoz
Community clean-up day in Kingsbridge, Bronx; October 17, 2020. Photo: Carla Swickerath
Installation of planters in Restoration Plaza, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; October 15, 2020. Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Outdoor dining area constructed for Tropical Rotisserie on Sedgwick Ave. Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Construction of a restaurant barrier prototype in Kingsbridge, Bronx, August 20, 2020. Photo: Cameron Blaylock