the last decade for edgemere?

Edgemere is a neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, located between an abandoned landfill and a city-owned wasteland. It was christened as such for obvious reasons – it sits on the very edge of Rockaway Beach, overlooking the boundless expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. As a Floridian, the concept of ‘waterfront living’ invites memories of gated communities and exorbitant rent. Residences located by bodies of water are typically way more expensive. I keep trying to figure out when the idea of ‘the waterfront’ will strike terror in the public imagination, instead of thoughts of popsicles or sunburns or whatever. The community of Edgemere really brings these half-visions of the future into focus.

I keep seeing research everywhere about how NYC will be submerged by the end of the century. Yet low-income neighborhoods in Queens are already feeling the effects of climate change. Edgemere doesn’t have until the end of the century! The entire community is projected to be underwater in a little over a decade. Already, natural disasters overwhelm its infrastructure and local city councils are offering little to no help. During Hurricane Sandy, flooding on both sides – from Jamaica Bay (land-fill side) and the Atlantic Ocean (wasteland side) – wrecked the community. Residents had to be evacuated on jet skis. Sandy left the largely low-income residents of Edgemere without electricity, heat or clean water for weeks – yet it took years for the city to complete taking inventory of the damage. Meanwhile, then-mayor Bloomberg poured disproportionate effort into the “waterfront redevelopment plan” for lower Manhattan. This all fits into a pattern of systemic neglect towards low-income communities in non-gentrified areas of New York City. I read an article about Edgemere in the Guardian, where a resident, Sonia Moise, says “I honestly believe we were treated the absolute worst because of location.”

From my research, I can see that many residents fear getting pushed out of the community and losing their property due to city buyouts, with no compensation whatsoever. It’s shocking to read about the neglect festering in this area of Queens as luxurious projects like the construction of Hudson Yards are a priority for New York City.

I plan to document the resilience project occurring in Edgemere currently. The Resilient Edgemere Community Plan intends to focus on buyouts of the threatened land, strategic retreat inland, and restriction of waterfront development. I want to interview residents of Edgemere, particularly those who are being forced to relocate with no compensation. I also hope to understand the emotional impact of this on residents who are forced to abandon their homes and uproot their lives as a result of climate change fueled by corporate greed.

Brennan, in The Transmission of Affect, discusses how the transmission of emotions, feelings and moods (affects) operates in groups, gatherings and crowds – creating what we often refer to as the ‘atmosphere’ of a place. Brennan states that the concept is “potentially relevant to understanding the behavior of groups and gatherings” (Brennan, 20). I think this is relevant when thinking about the ‘atmosphere’ of communities facing collective hazard. I hope to find out more when I interview residents and revisit the location.  

Sources:

Brennan Teresa, “The Transmission of Affect.” Cornell University Press, 2004.

Nonko, Emily. “The Sinking Class: the New Yorkers Left to Fight the Climate Crisis Alone.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 Sept. 2019, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/20/new-york-city-sinking-climate-crisis-waterfront.

~ by monisha4464 on February 17, 2020.

2 Responses to “the last decade for edgemere?”

  1. This is very informative. Manhattan won’t last past the century, which is alarming to think about. It is nice to sort of get concrete information on what is being done, but also what else could be done for communities where they face a larger threat.

  2. I find this very well written, as it establishes the issue very well. I like the way how the concern around the community is described, not just the issue itself.

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