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9/11/2023 Downtown New York City

New York City, United States

STRIVING FOR COLLECTIVE RESILIENCY

In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy hitting New York in 2012, Kristen Chin recalls that the immediate necessity was the soft infrastructure required to cope with the effects of a traumatic event.

“Taking care of people was the most important thing. Resiliency is about social infrastructure as much as it’s about the physical infrastructure”, Chin elaborates.

The recovery from Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, took months, if not years. During that time, Chin was involved in a community-based project with the Pratt Center for Community Development and other technical assistance partners, working with those impacted by the storm. She recognized that working with communities was an avenue where she, as an architect, could make a meaningful impact.

Every community is unique, and Chin stresses the importance of defining the local community for each site

Today, Chin serves as the Director of Community and Economic Development at Hester Street, a renowned nonprofit specializing in urban planning, design, and development. Hester Street prioritizes deep community engagement, racial justice, and focuses on those who have been systematically and historically left out of decision-making processes. Every community is unique, and she stresses the importance of defining the local community for each site. She notes, "Community-driven work requires slow and thoughtful trust-building."

Hester Street’s engagement tools are customized to meet each community’s needs to make participation as easy as possible. ”We believe that places are shaped by their people, and we design and develop tools and processes so that communities can amplify their power, and collect data and insights to allow folks to tell their own stories on their own terms,” Chin explains.

Hester Street has worked with partners from government agencies to community-based organizations, among them: South Bronx Unite who is aiming to transform a vacant building into a center for health, education and the arts; supporting the conversion of the Ravenswood power plant into a clean renewable energy hub; and working with city council members to develop community-driven neighborhood plans. In every project Hester Street is working to ensure that neighborhoods are shaped by the people who live in them.

Explore more projects by Hester Street at hesterstreet.org

In conversation with Kristen Chin of Hester Street

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