TEDxNYIT: Meta Resiliency Rules the Day

October 11, 2013

New York, NY – New York Institute of Technology convened an eclectic mix of speakers and performers at TEDxNYIT yesterday to discuss the meaning of resiliency and its implications for people, cities, and our shared global community.

In the tradition of TED conferences, which seek to generate "big ideas worth spreading," TEDxNYIT was a locally organized event designed to present a series of short talks by planners, architects, entrepreneurs and other professionals.

"We wanted to talk about the concept of resiliency from a higher level—from a level of 'Meta Resiliency," said NYIT School of Architecture & Design Associate Dean Frank Mruk, who organized TEDxNYIT. "What did we learn after all of these disruptions—9/11, financial disruptions, Hurricane Sandy—we've had in the past 13 years?"

Following an energetic acoustic opening by City of the Sun, speakers took to the stage, most without notes, to share their thoughts and inspire an audience of more than 150 people at NYIT Auditorium on Broadway.

"Resiliency is about the courage to look 30 years, 50 years, or more and imagine what we might want to see," said Margaret Newman of New York City's Department of Transportation. "Resilience is coming back surely; it's renewal, rebuilding, and repurposing."

In the case of Gallivare, Sweden, resilience resulted when townspeople were engaged in the challenge of moving their city when it was threatened by a mining operation.

"The co-creation model is valuable, it created more, better, and sustainable ideas," said Claes Frossen, one of the leading designers in City Move, which worked with other professionals and residents on the plan to relocate Gallivare.

Among the speakers was NYIT alumnus Alex Alaimo (B.A., '13), who co-launched Operation Resilient Long Island last year with Daniel Horn (B.A., '13) to generate ideas to help coastal communities build in resilience as they recovered from Hurricane Sandy. ORLI launched the 3C Comprehensive Coastal Communities competition in March to garner design ideas from around the world. Sixty designs were submitted from 20 nations, and most are currently on display at Gallery 61 until October 17.

Alaimo announced that Adaptive Urban Habitats, a group of Northeastern University architecture graduates, won the juried competition.

"Meta resiliency can be achieved," said Alaimo. "It's not about bouncing back—it's about reinventing how we can bounce up."

Several speakers agreed that resilient communities and practices arise when people collaborate and understand shared goals.

"We are not alone," said Illya Azaroff of +LAB Architects who asked the audience to repeat the phrase. "It is not the buildings; it is us."

Azaroff noted that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced in the future by natural and manmade disasters. But new ideas, shared and spread among people, may hold answers to how we respond. "Storms don't discriminate," he said. "We need to look everywhere for solutions."

Ron Dembo, an entrepreneur, risk management expert and founder of Zerofootprint, defined resilience as "hedging volatility" and noted that "engagement is the biggest untapped resource" for creating resiliency.

During the segment, Goody Clancy Lead Planner David Dixon said the environment and resilience agendas are also an urban agenda.

"We have already begun to pay a very considerable price for not investing in resilience," said Dixon, noting lives lost, people displaced, the cost of rebuilding, and the lost GDP that resulted from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy. "We need to launch a civic conversation and assert the value of public leadership now" Dixon said.

TEDxNYIT's other musical performers were Harpist Erin Hill and Carter Brey, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, who joined the Amphion String Quartet for a closing performance. Prior to his performance, Brey spoke of music education as an aspect of meta resiliency because it helps improve communities.

Each speaker's recorded video will be available at http://www.nyit.edu/events/tedxnyit_2013 later this month.

For additional coverage about the event, see: Architect magazine, Treehugger, and Untapped Cities.

About TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. NYIT's event is called TEDxNYIT, where x=independently organized TED event. At TEDxNYIT, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California almost 30 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes on a diverse mix of topics. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The TED2014 Conference will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast in neighboring Whistler. TEDGlobal 2014 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

TED's media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; and TEDBooks, short e-books on powerful ideas. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDNews, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TED. For information about TED's upcoming conferences, visit http://www.ted.com/registration.

About NYIT

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 13,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.

Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, nearly 95,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit nyit.edu.

Elaine Iandoli
Office of Communications and Marketing