CISC Honored as a 2010 Cultural Innovation Award Recipient

CISC is grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for its New York City Cultural Innovation Fund Award. We have been actively working to amass our team of individuals to help us develop the Digital Environmental Atlas of New York City, for which we received this grant.

Working with partner, Artist As Citizen, our vision is to create an Atlas that shows the past environmental transformations of New York City’s history, with the ultimate intent of projecting its future, reminding New Yorkers that they all play a role in what the city of tomorrow looks like based on decisions, lifestyles and participation. Essentially, the idea is this: by getting people more comfortable with thinking about the past and seeing all of the environmental challenges we have successfully surpassed, we (perhaps) open up the capacity for critical thinking and understanding that today’s decisions build tomorrow’s city. What do we really want this city to look like? And how can we take climate change and sustainability into account when we envision the year 2080 and beyond in NYC?

Pivotal to the Atlas project is the harnessing of the vast pool of emerging talent from the creative programs at schools across New York City. From programs at our home at CUNY, to ITP at NYU, to Parsons, Pratt, and SVA, we are inviting faculty to engage their students to build the atlas–and their portfolios–based on the latest science and developments of sustainability in New York City.

The initial content piece created by the Atlas team will consist of community interviews that ask people to think about their own hopes, fears, and thoughts for New York City’s future. While we have a great respect–and reliance on–existing climate change projection educational materials, we believe that people must be inserted into these equations. So, we figured we should start by speaking with them directly. Our community journalism interns will be hitting the streets and engaging their own networks to discuss these issues and get a variety of perspectives. One intern, for example, is a musician, a Queens native, currently living in New Jersey, who works at a law firm and has a family member who works for the EPA. The rich diversity of the responses he can tap into are valuable for the Atlas and the entire city itself. For future content, students at ITP–and elsewhere–are eager to participate in the Atlas Lab component of the project which will offer micro-grants and stipends for students who are designing physical projects in the city that contribute to advancing sustainability on the ground.

From historians to industrial designers, climatologists to artists, ecologists to new media pioneers, our guiding experts are helping us shape the Atlas, which we hope, will help shape New York City in some way.

Again, we are grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for the award that will facilitate the development of this exciting initiative and we look forward to serving our city and enhancing its innovation with this project. For a full list of other awardees, a great number of whom are also looking to pair sustainability with creativity, see here or see the Times ad on page A27 in today’s paper. (photo credit above:


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