WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – For an organization like New Jersey Future, the devastation caused by Sandy is more than a wake-up call. It’s a call to action. That’s why they’ll be hosting “Rebuilding A Resilient New Jersey Shore” this Friday, December 7 at Monmouth University’s Wilson Hall.
Note the ‘resilient’ in that title. It tells you a lot about the group and where they stand in the debate between two schools of thought in ecological circles which sometimes overlap but mostly go in different directions. Many environmentalists – not to mention social scientists – believe sustainability is the way to relieve the stress of an overburdened planet. Others argue that the emphasis should be placed on resiliency moving forward.
Jamais Cascio sums it up perfectly in an article in Foreign Affairs entitled The Next Big Thing: Resilience, “Sustainability is inherently static. It presumes there’s a point at which we can maintain ourselves and the world, and once we find the right combination of behavior and technology that allows us some measure of stability…Resilience, conversely, accepts that change is inevitable and in many cases out of our hands, focusing instead on the need to be able to withstand the unexpected.”
That’s the context of the free forum hosted by NJ Future this Friday where some big questions about the future of the Jersey Shore will be asked and perhaps some answered. And, to help them arrive at some conclusions, they are inviting the public to attend (pre-registration is required; do so here), listen to expert speakers address key topics, and share opinions on “how a thriving, healthy and resilient coastal region can be rebuilt.”
Sessions will include: The “New Normal” – our vulnerability to future storms; Lessons from other states with strong coastal management programs; and Actions to ensure resiliency, including changes to statutes, regulations and plans.
New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings together concerned citizens and leaders to promote responsible land-use policies. The organization employs original research, analysis and advocacy to build coalitions and drive land-use policies that help revitalize cities and towns, protect natural lands and farms, provide more transportation choices beyond cars, expand access to safe and affordable neighborhoods and fuel a prosperous economy.
New Jersey Future was founded in 1987 by senior corporate, civic and environmental leaders. Among its accomplishments they list the following:
> Served as chief advocate for the adoption and implementation of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, New Jersey’s smart growth blueprint for revitalizing communities and protecting natural resources.
> Advanced the adoption of new laws for protecting the environment and encouraging smarter growth, including the Highlands Water Protection Act and Transfer of Development Rights.
> Created a Smart Growth Awards program to recognize annually the best in development and preservation efforts across the state.
And, lest you think they have totally run into the arms of resiliency, they also note that they launched “the nation’s first ‘Sustainable State’ process, bringing together a wide range of citizens and experts to identify solutions to the most pressing issues facing the state environmentally, economically and socially.” One important outcome of that initiative was the group being granted ‘friend of the court’ status after they took legal action to stop sprawl and promote affordable housing in New Jersey.
Naturally, they know what they’re all about and how to get some business done. So it’s no surprise that “Rebuilding A Resilient New Jersey Shore” is a wonk-fest orgy for the ecological-minded with a first-rate line-up of speakers and presentations. In developing the program, they are also seeking to generate a discussion around these questions, according to information on their website:
| How have government programs led us to develop the Shore in a way that has made it vulnerable to severe weather events? Can programs such as federally subsidized flood insurance programs and beach replenishment be changed to ensure that they act to protect our shore areas
| How can we gather and learn from best practices implemented in coastal communities both around the country and around the world, and how can we work together to apply the most appropriate measures along various parts of New Jersey’s Shore?
| Are there some areas where the vulnerability to weather is simply too great, and hence where development should be discouraged? If so, how can we make financial provision to protect those areas and those who own property there?
| For lower-risk areas, what policies for retrofitting development will reduce vulnerability? With that goal in mind, how can we best direct development and investment in areas that are less susceptible to weather events?
| How can we restore and preserve natural lands such as sand dunes, wetlands and floodplains, which help absorb storm waters and support healthy ecosystems?
| How can we integrate storm vulnerability analysis into the State Strategic Plan, to ensure that state incentives for development are not targeted to high-risk areas?
| How can the DEP update its Coastal Permit Program and Coastal Zone Management rules so that they reflect the new reality of more frequent severe weather, by promoting stronger, more resilient communities and a healthier environment? How can those regulations strengthen the region as a whole?
They sum up their task, “Our vision is that, by addressing these and other important questions, we can work together to develop a robust set of well aligned plans and guidelines that will enable the Shore to rebuild better than ever – stronger, more resilient to severe weather, more economically vibrant, more welcoming to all who wish to enjoy it.”
The complete schedule is listed below. Again, attendance is free but pre-registration through their website is required. “Rebuilding A Resilient New Jersey Shore” takes place Friday, Dec. 7th, from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Wilson Hall, Monmouth University, 400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch, N.J.
8:00: Registration and light refreshments
9:00: Welcome: Peter S. Reinhart Esq., Director, Kislak Real Estate Institute, MonmouthUniversity.
Session 1: The New Normal
Jeanne Herb, Research Program Administrator, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. (moderator)
Anthony Broccoli, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director, Climate and Environmental Change Initiative, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences,Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
Megan Linkin, Vice President, Global Partnerships, Swiss Reinsurance America Holding Corporation, Armonk, N.Y.
Session 2: Lessons from Katrina
Rob Freudenberg, New Jersey Director, Regional Plan Association,Princeton,N.J. (moderator)
Ed Blakely, former Executive Director, Office of Recovery and Development Administration, New Orleans
Session 3: Federal Agency Roles: Response, Mitigation, and Community Resilience
Tony MacDonald, Director, Urban Coast Institute, Monmouth University,West Long Branch, N.J. (moderator)
Lopa Kolluri, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Strategy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.
Charles B. Chestnutt, Coastal Engineer, Institute for Water Resources, U.S.Army Corps of Engineers, Alexandria,Va.
Tim Crowley, Director, Mitigation Division, Region II, Federal Emergency Management Agency, New York
Session 4: Opportunities for State and Regional Action to Enhance Resilience
Peter Kasabach, Executive Director, New Jersey Future (moderator)
Mark Mauriello, former Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Brian O’Looney AIA LEED-AP, Partner, Torti Gallas and Partners, Silver Spring, Md.
Wrap-Up and Next Steps:
Peter Reinhart: 1:00pm – Adjourn