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ANA
FISYAK

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
PLANNING  
RESEARCH  
DEVELOPMENT

















I’m an urban planner, researcher, and nonprofit strategist dedicated to a community-based approach. I have provided technical assistance for NYC communities and CBOs for over a decade, especially collaborating with organizations in low-income communities of color and environmental justice areas. I teach at Parsons/New School and SUNY.

My work intersects human ecology, climate change, public space, social determinants of health, and the arts. I’m a Faculty Fellow at the Urban Systems Lab, The New School and an Urban Design Forum Fellow. My work has been covered by World Architecture, The Grist, Resilience.org, and The Wave.
 






Featured Work        



Community Visioning following Managed Retreat Proposal Selected by The Nature Conservancy 




2021

DEVELOPMENT
ENGAGEMENT
PLANNING


Partners: RISE, CCCE, Edgemere Community Civic Association, Edgemere Coalition Community Garden, and others

Funder: The Nature Conservancy







The Nature Conservancy awards our team’s proposal for an inclusive, equitable community visioning process for vacant land following managed retreat in Edgemere, Queens. The highly competitive NYS-focused program selected only two projects in the state.  The project—which will be led by  Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity  with technical assistance by the Collective for Community, Culture, and Environment—will initiate a co-creation process for socially and ecologically equitable use of vacant, flood prone areas with local partners. The project seeks to strengthen relationships within the community and to city agencies; grow awareness about “living with water” and community involvement in land stewardship; provide a forum for deeply community-driven visioning and a wide variety of voices; and align community priorities around a community land trust model. 


Images couresy of RISE. Photos by Benjamin P. Martin, Giles Ashford, and the Rockaway Field Guide.  
Winning $372,000 for the Rockaway Dune Enhancement Plan
2019

PLANNING
DEVELOPMENT


Client: Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity

Partners: NYCParks, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, US Army Corps

Secured $372K from the NFWF’s National Coastal Resilience Fund to complete a site assessment and preliminary design to strengthen 7-miles of Rockaway’s dune system, the community’s first line of defense against storm surge. The project will align multiple state, federal and local projects and prioritize biodiversity and community voices in the process.


Image courtesy of RISE. Photo by Giles Ashford.



Enabling Rockaway Homeowners to Adapt to Coastal Flooding
2020

ENGAGEMENT 
RESEARCH 
PLANNING


Client: Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity (RISE)


Partners: Columbia University, Stevens Institute, New York Hall of Science
The multi-disciplinary project aims to empower homeowners across the Rockaway Peninsula to reduce impacts of flooding on their homes, finances, and lives. Homeowners are uniquely at risk to  flooding while also most able to take action; they also play an important role as community innovators. Working in close collaboration with civic associations to design, implement, and evaluate three engagement strategies to  understand how to best support homeowners and catalyze preparedness and community-wide conversations about coastal flooding. The research will be used to scale the project and develop a community toolkit that can be used to spur community dialogue about climate adaptation.    


Images courtesy of RISE. Photos by Giles Ashford.


Growing Mental Health Wellness through Community-led Strategies
2016-2018

ENGAGEMENT
PLANNING


Client: Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity

Partners: NYC DOHMH, Hester Street

For more on the project visit here.
The 3-year project convened over 200+ local residents and over two dozen stakeholders and health care providers to review health data and developed the strategies for improving health in the community.  The high rate of unmet mental health needs was chosen as a priority and RISE, in community consultations, developed a three-part strategy to raise awareness about existing resources and to combat mental health stigma. The strategy—Take Care Rockaway— included a community stakeholder group that convened regularly, community events aimed at normalizing mental health, and the publication of  The Mental Health and Wellness Resource Guide for the Rockaways to help residents navigate existing resources. The project is part of a larger initiative, Take Care New York (TCNY) 2020—the city’s blueprint to improve community health—aimed to confront the root causes of health inequity at the local level. 

Images courtesy of RISE. Photos by Joshua Simpson.

Mapping & Building Capacity of Rockaway’s Arts & Cultural Ecology 
2018

ENGAGEMENT
PLANNING
DEVELOPMENT


Client: NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs (DCLA)

Partners: Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity (RISE), Rockaway Artists Alliance, Far Rockaway Arverne Nonprofit Coalition

Read the full report here. 

RISE worked in collaboration with local partners to build a Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventory. The 6-month process engaged over 500+ local residents and stakeholders—through multilingual surveys, focus groups, interviews, and  townhalls—to document cultural assets, considered local history, and explored opportunities and challenges to the existing arts and cultural ecology. The final inventory provides insights, depicts local contexts, and reveals the interconnections between community and art, past and present, but also its role in Rockaway’s vitality. The aim is for the inventory to spur more investment in local arts (in 2016  Rockaway receives less than 0.19% in Cultural Development Funds from DCLA) and help build the capacity and networks of indigenous artists and arts organizations. 

The project is part of DCLA’s Building Community Capacity, an initiative that takes a collaborative and comprehensive approach to building cultural capacity in low-income neighborhoods undergoing multiple city-led projects. The multi-year program strives to ensure both that culture is included as part of the City’s interagency efforts around neighborhood planning, affordable housing, economic development, and that local cultural stakeholders have ownership and voice in their own community’s development efforts.

In 2019, I wrote the winning proposal for Phase II which will include a comprehensive civic engagement process to develop a shared vision andstrategies to bring about enduring community-level transformation.



Images courtesy of RISE & NYC DCLA.
Photos by Joshua Simpson, Giles Ashford, the Rockaway Field Guide, and Ana Fisyak.