By Daniel McGlynn

The neighborhoods in North Richmond grew up with Richmond’s famed shipyards during World War II, along with railroads and a burgeoning fossil fuel industry. When you stand there today, you can literally see and hear this legacy of industrialization, which is also evident in the community’s high rates of poverty and asthma. Here the idea of resilient design means something completely different than it might mean in other parts of the Bay Area. It was these environmental justice concerns that attracted the San Francisco design firm Mithun to North Richmond for the Resilient by Design challenge. Collaborating with a community advisory board, they called themselves the Home Team and looked to address the on-the-ground, day-to-day needs of North Richmond neighborhoods. “The idea is that we want to invest in green infrastructure, shoreline resilience, and affordable housing,” says Sandy Mendler of Mithun. “It’s pretty intuitive that when we look at shoreline resistance we can’t have pockets of nice restoration and pockets of pollution and neglect. It’s time to rebalance that in this community.”

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North Richmond: Building Equity in the Urban Fabric and Forest

By Daniel McGlynn

The neighborhoods in North Richmond grew up with Richmond’s famed shipyards during World War II, along with railroads and a burgeoning fossil fuel industry. When you stand there today, you can literally see and hear this legacy of industrialization, which is also evident in the community’s high rates of poverty and asthma. Here the idea of resilient design means something completely different than it might mean in other parts of the Bay Area. It was these environmental justice concerns that attracted the San Francisco design firm Mithun to North Richmond for the Resilient by Design challenge. Collaborating with a community advisory board, they called themselves the Home Team and looked to address the on-the-ground, day-to-day needs of North Richmond neighborhoods. “The idea is that we want to invest in green infrastructure, shoreline resilience, and affordable housing,” says Sandy Mendler of Mithun. “It’s pretty intuitive that when we look at shoreline resistance we can’t have pockets of nice restoration and pockets of pollution and neglect. It’s time to rebalance that in this community.”

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Resilent by Design Bay Area Challenge

The Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge (2017-2018) invited nine teams to design innovative shoreline adaptations to rising sea levels at nine sites around the San Francisco Estuary. The visions provided by this pre-disaster challenge — modeled on the post-disaster Rebuild by Design challenge in New York that followed superstorm Sandy — are powerful, silo-crossing conversation starters for a region now working to prepare low-lying communities, creeks, habitats, and infrastructure for a bigger Bay.
About the author

Daniel McGlynn worked as an itinerant naturalist, trip leader, and wilderness guide before serving as an environmental educator with the Peace Corps in rural Nicaragua. Realizing that storytelling is a great educational tool, and productive way to inspire understanding and change, he then turned his attention to science and environmental writing. He is an alum of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and his work has appeared in a handful of national publications. He frequently writes about infrastructure projects and restoration work for Estuary News. Connect with him at danielmcglynn.com.