Away…Offshore…Adrift… Shifting Landscapes, Unstable Futures

Nantucket, meaning "faraway land or island" or "sandy, sterile soil tempting no one” in Algonquin, is an island 30 miles off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts, formed through glacial processes and ice melt, and continuously re-shaped by strong ocean currents, winds, storms, and human constructions and impacts. It served as seasonal farming and fishing grounds for the Wôpanâak tribe (meaning "People of the First Light") and it came to be a haven for an extensive Black community, whose members could find stable work around the wharves, far from mainland racist attitudes and laws.  It has since become a summer playground for the elite—but this simplistic characterization denies the substantial year-round and seasonal workforces, racially and ethnically diverse, who power the robust service-sector economy.

Climate change is already bringing rising seas, regular flooding, and coastal erosion to many parts of the island, and threatening areas in and around the main harbor town that are low-lying, close to eroding bluffs, and to shifting sands.  While many are asking questions about how to protect, this studio will ask how to work with the dynamics that are in play—environmental, social, cultural, and economic—and will explore alternative futures for the island.  How can a re-thinking of the relationships between stability and instability lay new fluid grounds for more adaptive solutions? How can we render invisible processes and people visible and central to the conversations about land occupation, landscape and cultivation dynamics, and sustainable work practices?

This studio is part of the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, a design initiative that will include interdisciplinary studios at Yale, UMiami, UFlorida, and Northeastern.  We will have access to live and recorded interviews /presentations by climate experts and local residents, and will collaborate with partnering institutions.  Work will be presented on Nantucket this summer. We will also participate in the Green New Deal SuperStudio to envision a “10-year national mobilization” of strategies centered on jobs, justice, and decarbonization.

This is a design-oriented, interdisciplinary studio focused on physical and social/cultural processes of making and re-making at various scales.  Landscape architects, architects, and urban designers are welcome to participate.