This is a short impression of one day getting to know the beautiful New York neighborhood Redhook. The reason was that during the New York Energy Week the Governors Office announced "a kind of X-prize" to make neighborhoods more resilient and the Dutch delegation is contemplating to participate with a plan for Redhook.
Text of One day in in the beautiful New York neighborhood Redhook
Impressions from one day in Redhook firstname.lastname@example.org
I loved Redhook. It was spacious, never really crappy, people where friendly, the vistas over the water often breathtaking. This is a neighbourhood where I can imagine living very happily and it is oozing with potential.
A big problem that is mentioned by most residents and visitors is public transportation to and from Redhook. The bike program does not extend this far south and there is only one bus coming here I was told. I think this hampers residents, property values and tourism. But every problem is a treasure because it tells you what you can improve. And I see sustainable transportation as something that could be part of the integral plan for the neighbourhood. I brought my city bike and found that Redhook is perfect for biking.
Some potential: a lot of prime locations near the water with property that is looking almost forsaken.
Streets with a lot of underutilized potential.
A bicycle highway.
Parking lots like this seem underutilized by Dutch standards
Social housing like this dominates the center of the Neighbourhood. We where told that there is almost 70% youth unemployment. Still there are long waiting lines to be able to rent here. Life must be pretty hard for many people here. But it also means that offering these people jobs is a great motivator for them and us. The prize money is meant to promote resilience and we have to respect that, but we can spend it in such a way that it creates eductation, jobs and social cohesion in Redhook itself. What is required is a good integral plan that can create win-win. And we could dream even bigger. We can use that integral plan to redirect part of the 250 million to 2 billion dollar that is apparently still hanging in the balance as insurance money and Sandy rebuilding funds. That way we can make Redhook into a little sustainable wirtschaftswunder. Actually, foreign players like us are perfectly positioned to do that. We have extensive experience with such plans but even more importantly: we are independent. We do not have the political affiliations that often create gridlock in the USA. We do not have ties to local employers, unions and policy makers that limit our options or give us a bias. We can be like Feynman in the Rogers Commision Report on the Challenger disaster. The difference being that our job is more fun because we can come up with a solution for a bright future instead of an explanation of past disaster.
Everywhere the walkways are roofed like this and the area around the buildings is closed with gates. Often it became like this right after Sandy, almost two years ago. Residents tell me it feels like living in a prison. Some hypothesise they stay in place as an easy way to protect equipment.
I guess they where probably put up because of ligitation risks or because someone was working with potentially loose material on the roof at one time or another. But it seems pretty careless to keep them in place for so long and its hard for me to imagine structures like this staying in place for two years in a rich neighbourhood. I am curious what the truth is behind these omnipresent structures.
Still a lot of these external units for I presume heating, cooling and maybe emergency power. For me these signify hope. Apparently the money for the final solution is not spent yet and we can use that money as part of our integral sustainability, resilience and job plan.
This park comes with an interesting story. Everybody I spoke to loves the park and told me it has an important place in the neighbourhood. Everybody likes that it is being redone (although most think it could have been done cheaper). But then everybody is just as unanimous in their rejection of the fact that it has to be completely closed off for so long.
First we tried to have only the parts closed off where people where actually doing stuff. Then we said: why dont you first close and do one half and than the other? But they would not listen. So now the park is closed for the forseeable future, with sometimes no activity for weeks on end and no one understands what is so dangerous anyway. Says one resident: The only danger I know comes from the refusal of the contractor to turn on the lights next to the walkway outside the park because it costs money. People have already been mugged because of that. Maybe just one side of the story but it intrigues me.
This lady is Brooklyn's first professional dog-walker. She has lived in Redhook since 2001. The dog was happy to rest for a short while. In the background we see a closed off park. Carol and I talked about a wide range of topics. She explained how things have become much nicer in Redhook, especially in the last 5 years. She also liked the move from Ikea to the neighbourhood, bringing in jobs and people visiting the neighbourhood. However this also means that Redhook is becoming very expensive. Her rent has gone up spectacularly in the last few years (she now pays $3500 a month for