Nos Quedamos: Youth-led Activation of Community Climate Resiliency Hubs in Melrose Commons
WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, Inc. (NQ) is a leader in community-driven, sustainable development in Melrose Commons, a historically marginalized and disinvested community in the South Bronx, NY. Building on our 30-year history of organizing and advocacy for the preservation of open space, environmental health, and social justice, NQ’s NOAA Environmental Literacy Program will empower local youth leaders and organizers to educate and engage their peers, family members, and neighbors in preparation for the effective activation of three Climate Resiliency Hubs (blue/green infrastructure projects currently in development at local Melrose community garden sites). During disturbances, these Hubs will act as community-led crisis coordinating centers, providing access to freshwater and resources such as food, charging stations, and other necessities. In non-crisis times, the Hubs will be centers for community power-building, where residents gain the tools to advocate for long-term climate justice goals. This NOAA-funded program will develop the data, knowledge, talking points, and civic engagement roadmaps required to increase resident involvement in the effective implementation of the Climate Resiliency Hubs and, with support from our project partners at the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, strengthen community activism and advocacy to ensure that the Hubs provide the greatest possible impact for the community. Our first objective is to increase NQ’s capacity through research and analysis. An Environmental Literacy Program Manager, Climate Resiliency Research Fellow, and 2 Environmental Literacy Youth Leaders will gather and analyze data to support the development and sustainability of NQ’s Climate Resiliency Hubs, to be used for city- and state-level advocacy around climate preparedness policy changes and climate-resilience related funding allocations. The program’s second objective is to improve environmental literacy in the South Bronx community and strengthen organizing and advocacy efforts. Through deep training, the Environmental Literacy Youth Leaders and NQ’s larger cohort of youth organizers will be prepared to conduct community education activities for Melrose residents on key environmental justice indicators and data points. The education content will be integrated into NQ’s roster of public events, such as garden walking tours, festivals, community discussions, etc. The program will conclude with a South Bronx Climate Resiliency Symposium to further galvanize residents and lay the groundwork for continued resilience planning and policy advocacy in the South Bronx. As a result of this program, NQ will build a more confident, engaged, and environmentally literate Melrose Commons that will champion climate resilience throughout the South Bronx.