Pratt Earth Action Week, Fall ’21

Reflecting on our community’s experiences and response during the most recent climate events, this semester’s Pratt Earth Action Week (November 1st – November 6th, 2021) centered around a public forum to reckon with our current systems for disaster response and ideate on how we can collectively build better and more resilient frameworks for future climate events. The week’s programming continued to address the intersecting crises of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the racial and social justice protests that have brought into relief systemic inequalities and unsustainable systems. Coordinated events throughout the week provided an architecture for conversation, debate, and development of design solutions toward change with a focus on the relationship between climate change and mental health.

Pratt Earth Action Week Coordinators:

Carolyn Shafer
Director of Sustainability for Academic Affairs
Tessa Maffucci
Visiting Instructor, Fashion Design, School of Design
Tetsu Ohara
Adjunct Associate Professor, Interior Design & SCPS, School of Design
Eric O’Toole
Associate Professor, Graduate Communications + Packaging Design, School of Design
Leonel Ponce
Acting Academic Coordinator, M.Sc. in Sustainable Environmental Systems
Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

Virtual Exhibition of Student Work

A virtual exhibition of student projects focusing on issues related to sustainability around this semsters’ theme of Envision, Empower, Engage.

Design Management Exhibition

“Designing Inclusive Futures”– work was on exhibit from the Creative Enterprise Leadership’s ACM Cultural Pluralism and DM Design Futures class at Pratt Manhattan’s 7th Floor Lounge.

Climate Anxiety Forum

All were welcome to join the “Climate Anxiety Forum” organized by student advocacy groups. The event opened with a reading by ecopoet Serena Alagappan, followed by a student-led discussion with experts in system change, healing justice and reindigenization. This open discussion focused on individual and collective experiences, on and off campus, and the relationships between climate change and mental health.

Hatha Yoga for Alignment

This session offered a Hatha style Yoga routine, emphasizing a Vinyasa style (yoga sequences connected with the breath) along with a brief introduction to Yogic philosophy. Attention was given to postural alignment to safely develop strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance as well as reduce stress.

Climate Response + Readiness Design Jam

Participants were invited to join faculty from across the School of Design to create a design response informed by the climate crisis. Participants were invited to respond to a set of design prompts around themes associated with the climate crisis. They were asked to leverage their skills as creative producers to raise the alarm/create a response/develop a speculative solution which provides for greater resilience. People can work alone or in teams to craft and articulate a response.

Imagining Pratt as an Ecosystem

On August 21, Central Park registered 3.15 inches of rain between 8:50 and 9:50pm. Just 11 days later that record was broken again with the passing of the tropical storm Ida. These extreme weather events caused 13 casualties and millions of dollars in damage. These sudden meteorological processes exposed not only the lack of adaptation of the urban infrastructure, but also the socioeconomic inequality of our communities facing the current climate crisis.

Recognizing this present ecological emergency, the Mathematics and Science Department together with other faculty and students from other Pratt departments and universities is currently designing a plan to transform the Pratt campus into an Ecosystem Hub. This event explored possible designs and mitigation mechanisms to reduce the risk of flood inside Pratt and the neighborhood as well as minimize the urban heat island effect. The final objective would be the construction of a new ecospace where students, faculty, and members of the local communities can interact. Attendees were welcomed to participate in an interactive workshop where all of the participants can analyze, imagine and contribute to the launch of a final vision of this project.

The Staten Island Bluebelt: a Nature-based Solution

The Staten Island Bluebelt is a stormwater system that preserves and optimizes natural drainage corridors such as streams, creeks, wetlands, and ponds to control and filter neighborhood stormwater. Participants were invited to join this virtual tour with the program leader to experience the potential of nature to address our most pressing challenges in sustainable water management.

NYC Storm Preparedness, Response & Resilience

In the Summer of 2021, the New York City area was impacted by a number of severe storms, culminating with Ida on September 3rd. These storms brought renewed focus on stormwater management in the city and region, highlighting historic and ongoing work by advocates, policy makers, planners, and designers to prepare for emergencies, adapt to climate change, address water systems comprehensively, and reap the benefits of this life-giving resource. This panel discussion convened city agencies, water quality and basement dwelling advocates, and green infrastructure designers and planners to discuss how we can contribute to a stormwater resilient city.

Sustainable Supper

This was an interactive meal focused on food sustainability. Throughout five different courses, guests learned about local and seasonal produce and zero-waste cooking. Each course of the meal was vegan friendly and utilized every part of each ingredient used, whilst stimulating conversations about what we can be doing on an individual, local, and global scale. After dinner, attendees left with unique recipes to try at home. 

Teaching Sustainability

This informal session shared how Interior Design faculty integrate sustainability principles and practices into their courses.

Ideation Workshop: Towards Climate Adaptive, Emergency-Ready Communities

This virtual community preparedness and resilience ideation workshop, was led by Operation Resilient Living and Innovation, Plus (ORLI+) and Leaders in Environmental Advocacy at Pratt (LEAP). This workshop engaged attendees in interactive activities to (a) gather collective understandings of climate hazards and risk, and (b) propose actionable processes, plans, designs, and other tools to collectively and collaboratively improve emergency response and climate resiliency in our communities and institutions.

Toxic Waters

The “Make Polluters Pay” campaign brought NYPIRG and Pratt students to a week of education on the polluted bodies of water near campus (such as the Gowanus Canal/New Town Creek) with tour guides/speakers. Attendees and students can learn about the pollution caused by big corporations and how it affects our community. With a social media campaign/call for action, we provided an invigorating and creative platform for students to learn and discuss these issues while also providing ways for students to get involved.

Finding Your Flow: Earthing/Elemental Meditation & Sound Bath for Self & the Planet

When we slow down and listen deeply, we can deepen our awareness of our true nature, of our inherent connections to all life, and of the natural, creative flow that pervades and supports all life. Meditation and sound healing contribute to sustainability as we clear and relax the mind and body. These profound practices allow sensory awareness and memory to guide us toward balance, wellness, and wholeness while elevating our vibrations and tuning into the natural flow of life. From this inner coherent state, our creativity can flourish.

Pratt SCPS Sustainable Design Certificate Program Presentation

A team of program faculty and graduates presented Pratt SCPS’s Sustainable Design Certificate Program to interested attendees.

Summary, Outcomes and Next Steps from Keynotes

PEAW Coordinators gathered to reflect and report back on our week of Keynote Forums and other events during the Fall 2021 Pratt Earth Action Week.