Rising seas and sinking jobs – An opinion

By Amy Anderson
January 27, 2021

1 Resiliency
When we presented our waterfront proposal to the City of Fernandina Beach in December of 2018, we were clear in the use of the word resiliency. “Under the umbrella of resiliency, a compelling term defined as the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity, we place economic stability, equitable social life and environmental regeneration to support the enduring health of a community.” (1) This three-part framework is an evolution of work on sustainability over decades of collective research and application. Though environmental concerns might have been the driving force in the sustainable agenda, over time it became clear that without economic and social considerations no solution would be viable. The same holds true for the now prevalent term resiliency.

2 Wicked problems (2)
Two parallel phenomena, at different paces but causing similar anguish, expose the dilemma of human actions. The first mashes a species barrier between wildlife and curious humans. The second burns resources that scorch a once protective blue shield. The results, a pandemic and rising seas, are super wicked problems. Situations not prone to easy solution and with no inherent logic. Complex challenges that linear thinking cannot solve.

3 Big problem / little city
Discussion about the waterfront has exposed a normal tension between protecting the past and planning for the future. Hard fought preservation of the historic town faces new measures to identify its edge. While older plans may be carefully remembered, criteria for choosing solutions are not the same as ten or twenty years ago. And is it not political malfeasance to proceed with waterfront protection but not tend to the loss of livelihood during a pandemic? Can silver linings be found? Remaking the waterfront could be both job producing and a counterweight to the overwhelming imprint of tourism.

Notes specific to documents of 19 January FBCC meeting:
a. Is there a comprehensive financial plan that links computer modelling of extreme weather events with clear economic analysis of cost benefit assumptions? Not anecdotal media commentary but a published plan?
b. Engineering sketches are repeatedly shown on photographs of the old marina configuration. Does the new attenuator have any impact?
c. Construction scope and phasing suggests caution for bait and switch scenarios that can produce an ever-expanding budget.
d. Territorial division between Parks and Marina Boards may be an outdated split. Matthew, Irma, and their heirs do not recognize this line in the sand water.

1 Front Street REOI submittal and public presentation of February 2019
acatects, Fletcher Davis, North Florida Land Trust, Arup Engineering
2 Enduring Challenge of ‘Wicked Problems’: Revisiting Rittel + Webber,
Policy Sciences 2017, Kate Crowley and Brian Head

Amy Anderson, formerly a professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University in New York and the School of Architecture, University of Hawai‘i, practices architecture and urban design in New York, Honolulu and Amelia Island.




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