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Envision Resilience Challenge Launches Year Three of Design Studio and Community Engagement Program in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. February 9, 2023 — The Envision Resilience Challenge, a semester-long design studio connecting interdisciplinary university teams with coastal communities to inspire adaptive and creative solutions to the challenges of sea level rise and climate change, will take place in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts in the fall of 2023. 


Enlisting student teams of undergraduate and graduate architects, landscape architects, urban and regional planners, engineers, environmental scientists, naturalists, journalists and artists, the design studio calls on them to address the social, ecological and economic challenges facing the communities through innovative design. The Envision Resilience Challenge, developed by ReMain Nantucket, builds on the work of the 2021 and 2022 design studios in Nantucket, Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island.


“The first step to a better future is imagining it’ has always been the guiding principle of the Envision Resilience Challenge,” said Wendy Schmidt, founder of ReMain Nantucket. “We are delighted to bring to New Bedford and Fairhaven a model that has, for two years, connected graduate students across disciplines, professionals from around the world and dedicated local leaders to answer climate threats with visionary thinking.” 


Like coastal communities around the globe, New Bedford and Fairhaven have actively been responding to and preparing for changes to their coastlines. Local leaders in the region have been at the forefront of these challenges, meeting the moment with forward thinking and progressive ideas. 


“There is a significant history of resilience in New Bedford and Fairhaven, two towns long defined by their connection to the waterfront and their robust fishing industry,” said Cecil Barron Jensen, executive director of ReMain Nantucket. “Today, in addition to the challenges brought on by our changing climate, these communities are facing mounting infrastructure pressures including affordable housing, transportation and waste management, while also transitioning to a clean energy economy. We look forward to working with and learning from these vibrant communities.”


The 2023 Envision Resilience New Bedford and Fairhaven Challenge will serve as an opportunity to connect the community with undergraduate and graduate students who bring bold new thinking to age-old challenges and to engage in meaningful conversations that will help to shape a more resilient future for the region. A group of local advisors will work with student teams as they take a deep dive into the history, culture, values and challenges of New Bedford and Fairhaven neighborhoods and then propose imaginative solutions to the current and future impacts of sea level rise and climate change challenges.


Five to seven university teams will be selected to participate in the Envision Resilience New Bedford and Fairhaven 2023 Challenge, with their selection to be announced in spring 2023. Faculty leads will convene in the area for a two-day workshop and initial site visit in June. Students will begin their study of New Bedford and Fairhaven in August 2023, with an exhibition of the final design proposals opening to the community in late winter 2024. The public is invited to follow along throughout the duration of the Challenge at and via social media. To learn more about the previous studios, explore the work of the 2021 Nantucket teams and the work of the 2022 Narragansett Bay teams.


The Envision Resilience Challenge is a semester-long design studio, developed by ReMain Nantucket, that connects interdisciplinary teams from leading universities with coastal communities to envision adaptive and creative solutions to sea level rise. The challenge was introduced in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 2021 and moved to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, in 2022. The third iteration of Envision Resilience will explore New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 2023. The Envision Resilience Challenge allows communities to engage in hopeful and meaningful conversations about the future, inspires real action in resilience projects and fosters the next generation of leaders to think interconnectedly and holistically about climate challenges through design and innovation.


ReMain Nantucket and ReMain Ventures are funded by Wendy Schmidt and her husband Eric to support the economic, social and environmental vitality of the island of Nantucket. In addition to ReMain Nantucket providing grants and sponsorships to support sustainable and cultural initiatives across the island, ReMain Nantucket has worked in conjunction with ReMain Ventures to revitalize the downtown district year-round through the preservation of historic buildings that are home to a mix of nonprofit and commercial businesses.



February 9, 2023

CONTACT: Claire Martin