Director’s Update (September 2023)

It’s been a little over two weeks since starting in my new role at Pratt Center, and already I’ve been energized by meeting and reconnecting with so many colleagues. I’ve spent time getting to know the team at Pratt Center as well as other faculty and staff at Pratt Institute. All these connections and conversations have reinforced my belief that the team at Pratt Center–along with the expertise and resources at Pratt Institute– has so much to offer New York City communities that are fighting for equity and social justice.

In just two weeks I have seen the way Pratt Center engages with communities and uses policy, research and planning expertise to strengthen community efforts. I’ve also seen the way Pratt Center is there for the long haul, not just proposing new ideas, but working alongside communities to make sure policies and government programs are implemented in a way that centers equity and has an impact on those most in need. 

I saw this when we hosted a panel discussion last week at Pratt Manhattan with our friends at New Economy Project and the New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI) and where we heard from local Community Land Trust advocates about the big strides the movement has made in New York City over the last decade. We also heard about Pratt Center’s recent report Gaining Ground, which community partners are using to amplify their work and in their advocacy efforts. This was especially gratifying for me, since I was engaged in the early days of strategizing about CLTs in New York City when I was active in the Right to the City Alliance in NYC. 

This week is Climate Week NYC, and it couldn’t come at a more urgent moment. After a summer of record-breaking heat waves, extreme weather and wildfire smoke, it’s beyond obvious that we need bold solutions to the climate crisis. And we need an approach that prioritizes racial equity, environmental justice and centers people that are most impacted by the crisis.  

Pratt Center has been developing such an approach for over a decade and I’m happy to share that we will be kicking off the newest version of the program—EnergyFit Affordable Small Homes—this week in Brooklyn. EnergyFit will help 75 low- income homeowners in two and three-family buildings reduce their carbon emissions utilizing the package model from our 2016 pilot (more on that below). And in true Pratt Center fashion, this program is designed from the ground-up. We’ve spent over a year collaborating with partners at Cypress Hills LDC, IMPACCT Brooklyn and NYS Energy Audit to ensure program delivery is streamlined, and responsive to needs of the community. We are releasing a brief to share more about the program and its benefits that you can read more about in this newsletter.

This community-driven approach is why I was drawn to Pratt Center. So, in many ways being in my new role feels like a homecoming. Please read about all the exciting things Pratt Center is up to and look out for more opportunities to connect with us in the very near future. I can’t wait to meet and work with all of you to build a more just, equitable and sustainable New York City!


21 Sep, 2023