chapter  6
12 Pages

Implications for urban environmentalism, the environmental movement, and civic engagement in America

Nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy, the trees that were planted during the MillionTreesNYC planting event the weekend before the storm hit in 2012 continue to bear witness to its effects. Especially in the hardest-hit areas, old and new trees that had been inundated with saltwater and fl ooding during the hurricane are struggling to survive. In areas like the Canarsie and Coney Island neighborhoods of Brooklyn, entire blocks of dead trees stand as morbid reminders of the loss that came with the hurricane. More than the loss, though, these leafl ess trunks remind everyone of the potential threat of another storm. As a result, the trees have served as symbols around which these neighborhoods have mobilized. Established neighborhood organizations have been joined by residents who had not been involved prior to the storm to advocate for long-term recovery strategies. They have, of course, petitioned for the dead trees to be removed and replanted. But they have also called for actions that will help to make these neighborhoods more livable, such as expanding affordable housing, quality health care, stormwater management, enhanced parkland, and community recreation programs.1 Inadequate attention to these issues that foster social resilience and neighborhood effi cacy is precisely what made some neighborhoods so vulnerable to a storm like Hurricane Sandy.