Building off the sustainability work begun in 2010 with our arts and civic organization members, FABnyc developed SUSTAIN: Steering Urban Sustainability Through Action, Innovation & Networks—a joint project of FABnyc and Cooper Union Institute for Sustainabile Design (CUISD)—to generate new and innovative solutions to the complexities of urban sustainability. This expansion of our work was been made possible through a generous award from the Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund.
Over a two-year period, this grant provided us with the ability to originate a variety of projects to harness and focus the talents of artists, architects, engineers, residents, small businesses, and activists—to develop and implement creative solutions to the challenges of urban sustainability for one city block—E. 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery.
Location & Approach:
New York City offers the ideal territory to creatively engage stakeholders from diverse backgrounds in sustainable interlinked patterns of living. Because sustainability issues are repeated block by block in NYC neighborhoods, we believe there is a real opportunity to also lead innovative solutions on a block-by-block basis.
A wide body of research supports the wisdom of this approach—the most successful sustainability initiatives rise from the “bottom up,” rather than imposed from above. There is also increasing interest from scientists to partner with artists to creatively and emotionally engage people in active and prolonged behaviour change.
Projects ranged from exhibitions to installing whiteroofs around the neighborhood to public art installations. Designated the “Model Block” for Manhattan Borough President Stringer’s Go Green Lower East Side initiative in the spring of 2011, that effort expanded to include residents and small businesses, along with the arts groups, for existing energy, waste and water reductions programs. Model Block partners included Con Edison, Solar One, GrowNYC, the White Roof Project, the LES Ecology Center, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.