A wonderful profile of CSED from the Surdna Foundation!
The Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED, the Center), was established in 2006 to work towards environmentally conscious and sustainable recovery efforts in the Lower Ninth Ward - an area of New Orleans that has traditionally been underserved and systematically marginalized. Well known for the devastation and loss of life caused by the levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina, the neighborhood had environmental, economic and social rebuilding to do after the storm. CSED has been tackling these recovery challenges by engaging community residents and leaders on a host of issues, including coastal eco-system restoration, food security and the built environment.
It is well understood that floodwalls and levees cannot be the only forms of flood protection in New Orleans communities and significant work must be completed to restore the state's coastline. Together with its partners - the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) and the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) - CSED works on the Multiple Lines of Defense Campaign. The campaign is designed to inform and engage vulnerable populations on a system-wide approach to bolstering hurricane protection and rebuilding more resilient communities. The campaign emphasizes the need to join coastal restoration with levee construction and community development to best prepare for the challenges of living in a region that remains vulnerable to intense hurricanes and a changing climate.
Tracy Nelson, executive director of CSED, speaks honestly about those challenges when she reflects on her organization's efforts to restore not only the built environment of the Lower Ninth Ward, but the strength and vitality of its community - even six years into the recovery process. "It is hard. It is really hard and very long. If you decided to come back you quickly understood the isolation of a 19th century pioneer. But you learned quickly that the people in your community are critical. There are no strangers; people become family," says Nelson. Among the most important headlines from the rebuilding process is that grassroots efforts to engage and organize residents around the issues that affect their lives, including their most basic safety, can be effective vehicles for change. As a result, CSED and its partners have helped create the initial political will to influence leadership at the local and state level, amplifying resident voices, and remaining committed to collaborative and interdisciplinary solutions. "If the people step up," says Nelson, "one community can, most definitely, make a difference." READ THE FULL ARTICLE >>