The Envision Resilience Challenge, which calls on university students around the country to develop adaptive and creative solutions to sea-level rise, will expand to its second coastal community—Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, ReMain Nantucket announced on December 7, 2021.
[Nantucket, MA, December 2021]
ReMain Nantucket introduced the inaugural challenge on Nantucket in spring 2021, connecting academia, local leaders and community members in envisioning a future living with, rather than running from, rising seas. The Envision Resilience Narragansett Bay Challenge, which will begin in January 2022, is tasking multidisciplinary teams of graduate and undergraduate students with reimagining vulnerable sites in the Narragansett Bay region of Rhode Island through design.
“We created the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge in hopes of sharing a vision with coastal communities everywhere. Instead of experiencing anxiety and paralysis in the face of climate change, we have a window of opportunity to imagine how to adapt and even thrive in the future,” said Wendy Schmidt, founder of ReMain Nantucket. “While the Challenge began as an exercise in big ideas, we hope it will also spur big action—in Narragansett Bay and in all the world’s coastal towns and cities, which hundreds of millions of people call home.”
The six participating universities in the 2022 Envision Resilience Narragansett Bay Challenge are the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams University, Syracuse University, Northeastern University and the University of Florida. Student teams will be tasked with addressing short- and long-term threats caused by rising sea levels and climate change based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “high” sea level rise projections. Those projections predict that the Bay will see nearly 4 feet of water above local mean sea level rise by 2060, more than 6 feet by 2080 and close to 9 feet by 2100.
“Envision Resilience proved to be an effective model for raising awareness about sea level rise and inspiring home and business owners on Nantucket to begin to plan for adaptation,” said Cecil Barron Jensen, executive director of ReMain Nantucket. “By going to Rhode Island, we are testing the model one more time. We are thrilled to partner with local leaders in the region and to see what the next cohort of Envision Resilience students will deliver.”
Like Nantucket, the communities of Narragansett Bay are well aware of the threat they face from the impacts of climate change—particularly sea level rise. Over the last decade, Rhode Island universities, local and state officials and environmental organizations have made huge strides in coastal resilience preparedness and preparation.
“Rhode Island has invested heavily in coastal mapping and modeling to ensure we know our risk of flooding from a variety of coastal storm events, as well as the two daily high tides that will continue to rise,” said Teresa Crean, community planner and coastal management extension specialist with the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. “Our 21 coastal cities and towns are aware of the risks, and now we are seeking tangible solutions and innovative approaches to reduce risks of losses from coastal hazards. Rhode Island will offer the students an excellent canvas to test adaptation strategies, and our stakeholders will have the benefit of student creativity and innovation to spark problem-solving and implementation planning among practitioners.”
Students across disciplines―landscape architecture, environmental engineering, law, journalism and economics―will be tasked with identifying threats, researching possible solutions and proposing adaptive pathways forward for selected study areas within Providence, Wickford, Newport and the adjacent towns of Barrington, Bristol and Warren.
The studio kicks off in January 2022 and will run through the spring semester. Carolyn Cox of the Florida Climate Institute will return as academic coordinator to the Challenge, with Robert Miklos, FAIA of designLAB architects serving again as design and technical advisor for the six design studio teams. The Narragansett Bay community will be encouraged to follow along and engage throughout the Challenge. At the end of the semester, student teams will present their proposals to the communities in which they based their studies. Learn more here.
ReMain Nantucket and ReMain Ventures are funded by Wendy Schmidt and her husband Eric to support the economic, social, and environmental vitality of the island of Nantucket. In addition to ReMain Nantucket providing grants and sponsorships to support sustainable and cultural initiatives across the island, ReMain Nantucket has worked in conjunction with ReMain Ventures to revitalize the downtown district year-round through the preservation of historic buildings that are home to a mix of nonprofit and commercial businesses.
We invite you to watch & share the @envisionrnc 2021 documentary, celebrating the success of the inaugural Challenge as well as its inclusive & collaborative nature—made possible by the energy of the faculty, students & Nantucket community.