The Regenerative Connection
Authors: Aruna Das, Ishita Ghosh, Kyle Sam, YouJin Hwang
Institution: Columbia University
Instructors: Kaja Kühl (Coordinator), Lee Altman, Anna Dietzsch, Shachi Pandey, Thaddeus Pawlowski
Studio: The Climate Crisis: Designing A Just Transition For Small Cities; Graduate Urban Design; Spring 2021
Production of food creates a quarter of global carbon emissions, therefore a growing number of farms in the Hudson Valley region are practicing regenerative farming. This is a series of practices that keep carbon in the soil and reduces emissions. By 2050, with the rise in amounts of regenerative farms; this could result in an estimated 1 Billion acres. In turn this would reduce about 23.2 Gigatons of carbon emissions. The Hudson Food Haul project is a place for aggregation, processing and distribution of produce from these many regenerative farms in Columbia County; to help them to reach a greater production capacity as well as promote sustainable farming practices in the region. This project is a proposal for the generation of a food hub network along the Hudson river, to serve the local community as well as the whole river valley region. It aims to connect surrounding farms to their respected communities which like many others face food inequities. Through precedent, more farmers can make more profit from selling processed produce rather than the produce itself. With this, it is difficult for farmers to establish this infrastructure for their own, and creating this hub will support them economically. The hub offers shared infrastructure for increased volumes of processing and packaging, thus creating high quality products at lower prices to increase access to healthier options within the community. This project also creates a new job market for the community of Hudson. The hub is located at the waterfront; a location historically cut off from town and previously used for industry. With access to the river the hub can utilize electric barges to transport products from our food hub to communities up and down the river, as far as New York City.
At the beginning of the most critical decade to sustain this planet for future generations – and at the convergence of multiple crises, the 11 student projects developed in the Spring of 2021 in the MSAUD Urban Design studio at Columbia University are intended to generate conversation, visualize possible futures, and inspire communities to seize this moment and envision a just transition away from fossil fuels, exploitation, and systems of racial inequities to a future that is regenerative and just. Sixty percent of Americans now live in cities of under 50,000 residents. While much design and planning energy is focused on our largest cities, considering the nation’s smaller cities and towns as the prototypes for deep change has the potential to be replicated with great impact. These small cities of the Hudson Valley, as well as neighborhoods like Manchester and Chateau in Pittsburgh, offer an opportunity for transformative thinking to be tested, refined, and implemented with agility and flexibility. Their reliance on regional systems and networks, in turn, suggests the possibility to replicate and iterate on these models to transform larger urbanized regions.