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The People's Plan

The Team

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The Permaculture and Social Equity Team (P+SET) is a multidisciplinary collaborative.

The team is made up of permaculture designers and educators from the Urban Permaculture Institute, landscape architects from Yale University and Ross Martin Design, architecture students from Yale University, and Brock Dolman, cofounder and Program Director for the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center and the WATER Institute.

The team worked closely with Shore Up Marin (SUM), which formed a multi-racial environmental coalition in response to flooding issues, advocating for equitable inclusion of low-income communities in planning and disaster preparedness.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Background

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Marin City is a bowl at the base of the Richardson Bay watershed area, sandwiched between San Rafael and Sausalito north and south, and Richardson Bay and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area headlands east and west.

Deeply eroded gullies, severely paved culverts, and inadequately sized pipes drain the watershed causing chronic serious flooding events. Sediment and debris often clog this infrastructure and have silted the only retention basin exacerbating the problem. Low lying pinch points and limited transportation corridors hamper ingress and egress during this inundation. Extreme events can inundate Highway 101 causing regional transportation breakdowns on the only road and major commuter corridor connecting Marin City to the rest of the county. Of greater impact locally, the one road in and out of the community, Donahue Street, is regularly flooded and closed more frequently.

Chronically marginalized communities find themselves on the front lines of sea level rise with inadequate infrastructure, inequitable resources, and the imminent threat of displacement along with enduring stressors like food insecurity. Even well-intended municipal planners, designers, developers, and regulators can be seen as outsiders. The normal process of assess, ideate, engage, iterate, then present overlooks the community’s capacity to generate or express their own self-determined solutions.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Proposal

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Rather than only site specific, element and component-based designs, P+SET proposed an unconventional approach - a social design process.

This process builds community capacity and ecoliteracy to address the challenges of coastal adaptation and resilience planning, especially in vulnerable communities experiencing generations of marginalization and exclusion. The opportunity was to transform the process of ‘engagement’ to one of authentic partnership - to initiate site design by first increasing the capacity of the resident community by recognizing, leveraging, and enhancing the already existing assets and initiatives in a place.

In a three-month period, P+SET piloted this capacity building program in Marin City, resulting in an incipient People’s Plan to authentically reflect aspirations and intentions of the resident community of place. An intergenerational cohort expanded existing knowledge for assessing and addressing risks and developing near and long-term strategies with a prioritized set of projects to be immediately phased into partial implementation. Additionally, the community enhanced their existing advocacy practices and literacy to more effectively engage with municipal, regulatory, and regional stakeholders. More importantly, P+SET reaffirmed the hypothesis that communities have skills, experiences, and strategies to solve local and regional problems they face.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Next Steps

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Students from the Marin City Health and Wellness Center charter school have agreed to meet weekly along with representatives of P+SET and SUM to begin the implementation of at least one site idea - literally a “shovel ready project” - and to continue capacity building training.

In the broader context, the group will continue to work with Marin County Flood Control District Zone 3 to address the larger scale problems such as the flooding of Highway 101 and Donahue Street and the siltation of the retention basin as well as addressing the inadequate stormwater infrastructure. The collaboration will also focus on targeting key funding sources and identifying more. SUM and community members designed the best structure to support the long term updating and implementation of the People’s Plan.

The People’s Plan process is applicable for any community with permanent human settlement. Some of the design ideas developed are most relevant in the context of communities that have been marginalized and/or socially and economically oppressed. Priority sites for implementation are best captured by the San Francisco Bay Community Vulnerability Map created by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) program developed as part of the Stronger Housing, Safer Communities project led by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge