Bay Area Students Offer Solutions to Sea Level Rise
By Bea Karnes, Patch Staff
26 April 2018
In the first ever Y-PLAN Youth Challenge Regional Summit in Berkeley, over 50 K-12 students helped reimagine possibilities for stronger, safer communities in the Bay Area by proposing solutions to disaster-related urban planning issues. The students’ plans could serve as a real blueprint for planners seeking to find solutions to multiple socio-economic and environmental threats.
"We are the future and will be the ones most impacted by climate change," said Rosa, an 11th-grader from Kennedy High School in Richmond. "Richmond is my home and today gave me the platform to make my voice heard and make my city safer and more affordable."
The Y-PLAN Youth Challenge is a regional initiative which involves over 800 students. The students, who are from 22 public schools across the Bay Area, have been examining the social impacts of climate change over the past nine months and have developed complex proposals to combat environmental and urban planning problems.
The Y-PLAN Youth Challenge is in partnership with Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge which is a collaborative research and design initiative that connects leaders of design with community members, local leaders, and national experts including a number of faculty and students from the College of Environmental Design.
Student leaders presented their interactive proposals for East Palo Alto, Richmond, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Rafael. The proposals range from wetland buffers designed to mitigate the threat of sea level rise and flooding to floating cities. The students’ proposals also detail the local impacts of climate change and imagine a future for the Bay Area that is more resilient and equitable.
The proposal presentations were followed by a panel discussion with local student leaders, civic leaders, educators, and regional design, planning, and environmental experts.
"This is a chance for students, design experts and civic leaders to push their thinking about what is possible here in the Bay," said Deborah McKoy, a lecturer in the Department of City & Regional Planning and Executive Director of the Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley. "Students, often marginalized or invisible in urban planning processes, are acting as consultants for change by sharing their insights and lived experiences in their own communities. It's a real-world opportunity for youth to plan the future they want to see and for designers to listen to community priorities from people who know these communities best."
Over the next month, student leaders will continue their engagement in regional urban planning by collaborating with local and global designers who are also partaking in the Resilient By Design Challenge. The student’s proposals have helped mold the design solutions imagined by the design teams.
"With rising rents and rising flood levels across the Bay Area, young people and their communities know all too well that there is increased climate risk and urgency," said Diana Sokolove, Principal Planner with the City and County of San Francisco. "I'm so impressed by the presentations showcased today and by student's tenacity to take on the Bay Area's most pressing and difficult challenges."
"Resiliency speaks to the heart of the people," said Krisna, a 12th grader at Kennedy High School. "It's how we rise up, how we get back up from whatever situation we are in."