“’Wishing Planning More Political Power.”

“’Wishing Planning More Political Power.”

This was a parting thought from Chapa, fondly called the unofficial mayor of Rincon, when he was interviewed by Practicum students. 

Part of a planner’s political power will come from communication power and data power. The former is illustrated by the comments of training participants, in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, on the recovery plans that were reviewed during the NDPTC’s “Community Planning for Disaster Recovery” training. Messaging is as important as the technical details of plans and planning processes. Power from accurate and useful data is somewhat illustrated by the participants’ rejection of certain FEMA maps that were deemed not to reflect ground or community realities.

Until the trip’s final day, June 15, planned encounters hinted at power that can surface by connecting planning with youth activities and island community relationships. The 5-member student team from UPR Mayaguez worked on Hurricane Maria’s impact on the most vulnerable neighborhoods and came up with place-relevant measures for property damage and resilience. Oliver Jimenez, an agronomy graduate and a UH Hilo alumnus, reflected on resilient agricultural practice. His interest in food production is also building social capital in the community- his neighbors are curious about his garden and he is helping set up aquaponics for local restaurant. Jean Carlos Vega-Diaz, one of the college students at the Green Infrastructure Training, reported that he monitored media coverage of the latest disaster and articulated that imbalance in reporting exacerbated imbalance in disaster response. At talk story time, he shared his architectural renderings of Puerto Rico housing design types (late 1800s to present). The portfolio highlighted design intent, samples and critique of actual implementation, and recommendations for correcting bad implementation.  He recognized the need to understand actual housing stock in the island and pragmatic ways to make them more resilient.  During his presentation at the Green Infrastructure training, Dr. Robert Mayer showcased students’ participation in dune restoration and natural green infrastructure development.

Dr. Robert Mayer and Post-Hurricane Sand Dune Protection initiative https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2018/05/10/restoring-sand-dunes-along-puerto-ricos-north-coast

Jean Carlos Vega Diaz and MIT’s Post Hurricane program http://news.mit.edu/2018/hosting-university-puerto-rico-students-at-mit-post-hurricane-maria-0611

Available coastal education and planning for young learners in Hawaii https://manoa.hawaii.edu/exploringourfluidearth/physical/coastal-interactions/beaches-and-sand/activity-coastal-engineering

Arizona State University’s easy-to-digest introductory message about sand does not overwhelm with technical details  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5Cw4w4jkj4

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