Theses Master's

Rumor Has It: Networks of Informal Communication as Resiliency on Hillside Avenue

Sarmiento, Hugo

On September 2, 2021, Hurricane Ida dumped record rain on New York City, leading to the tragic deaths of 11 people, including a mother and son in a basement apartment just south of Hillside Avenue in Hollis, Queens. While resiliency planning has been critiqued by scholars such as Kathleen Tierney, it is still the go to framework with which urban planners engage with the climate crisis.

Scholars like Malini Ranganathan and Eve Bratman would argue that to truly understand what happened on Hillside Avenue and to build a real and critical resiliency, we must use the framework of abolitionist climate justice to uncover the networks of care that exist in the neighborhood and what spaces those informal networks inhabit. If abolition can be understood as “unfinished liberation ...[from] processes of hierarchy, dispossession, and exclusion that congeal in and as group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death” (Gilmore, quoted in Ranganathan and Bratman, 2019), then a framework of abolitionist climate justice on Hillside Avenue must be understood in the context of the multiple immigrant communities that call it home and their relationality to one another, the state, and the larger social forces that construct risk in New York City.

This research engages with archival materials, semi-structured interviews, and ethnographic observations that explore the informal networks of care and communication that weave throughout Hillside Avenue. From the starting point of understanding how these networks function to keep people safe during climate crisis induced events like storms, it also explores the ways in which they keep people safe from the societal ills that increase precarity and vulnerability, such as housing instability and food insecurity. It frames these networks of care not just as protective measures by populations who the neoliberal state neglects, but as iterating, everyday, and radical acts of joy that do political work in destabilizing systems of domination by virtue of their existence.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2024-06-26.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sarmiento, Hugo
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 9, 2023