Their combined goals meant that both organizations were interested in working with a neighborhood on the Elizabeth River to improve its relationship with the water. Wetlands Watch had recently partnered with Virginia Sea Grant and the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Green Building Council to form a collaborative resilience design laboratory, the purpose of which was to produce innovative strategies and designs for adaptation to rising sea levels. The “collaboratory” supports projects that link academic programs to real-world communities in need.
NEIGHBORHOOD BY NEIGHBORHOOD
Although it was the first undertaking of the “collaboratory,” the Ingleside Project would be the second of its kind. A prototype project of sorts had recently run its course in a neighborhood called Chesterfield Heights. Wetlands Watch had been looking for opportunities to implement green design solutions to coastal flooding on a neighborhood scale for several years when, in 2014, they received a grant from Virginia Sea Grant to bring in students from Hampton and Old Dominion Universities to design nature based solutions to their flooding problems.
According to the executive director of Wetlands Watch, Skip Stiles, Chesterfield Heights was the first project that really addressed coastal resiliency at the neighborhood level.
“We wanted to see if you could use nature based designs in these communities to control the flooding,” Stiles says. “It was the first of the kind in the country, that effort. No one had gone into a neighborhood before it flooded to begin to develop adaptation design.”
This student design effort was immensely successful, winning a 120 million dollar Housing and Urban Development grant in 2016 that would allow them to begin implementing the ideas that the students came up with.
Driven by the success of the Chesterfield Heights, Stiles was eager to recreate the process in a new neighborhood with its own challenges.
“Ingleside is right next to Chesterfield heights so we wanted to see if we could do the same thing in Ingleside,” Stiles says.
The partnership that Wetlands Watch and the Elizabeth River Project formed through their work with Ingleside and UVA generated an innovative model for adaptation design at the neighborhood level. The final proposals that came out of the project showed potential for application in other neighborhoods across Norfolk, and even other coastal cities.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Although the school semester has ended and the project has wrapped up, the work in Ingleside has just begun. The next step for the non-profits and community members is to seek avenues for implementing the designs in the final report. With help from Rieger, Southall presented the proposal to the Norfolk City Council in hopes of earning Ingleside a spot in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. This would ensure that the neighborhood improvements would be factored into the annual city budget, providing a source of funding for larger, infrastructural changes like the proposed green street on Fontaine Avenue.
Wetlands Watch has also applied for a watershed restoration grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. If successful, this funding would help the neighborhood implement the first phase of the Ingleside proposal, which suggests retrofitting roadside ditches into bioswales. Overall, the members of the project felt that Ingleside has made real progress towards a sustainable future.
Produced by Virginia Sea Grant science communications interns Sarah Ruiz, Daniel Diaz-Etchevehere, and Jessica Taylor,
and directed by Ian Vorster, Virginia Sea Grant communications director.
Written by Sarah Ruiz
Filming by Danny Diaz-Etchevehere, Jessica Taylor, Dennis Quigley, and Ian Vorster
Video production by Danny Diaz-Etchevehere and Jessica Taylor
Photography by Jessica Taylor
Animation by Sarah Ruiz
Voiceover by Sarah Ruiz
Edited by Ian Vorster, VASG Communications Director
Website design by Howell Creative Group
Phoebe Crisman – Ingleside Report
John Ehlers – Drone footage
Elizabeth River Project
Chris Free, City of Norfolk – Flooding footage
NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer
Additional flooding images courtesy of: Charles Gore, Ed Guyton, Barbara and Timothy Murray, Ben and Kate Nielson, Brian WierzbickiSpecial thanks to:
Charles and Sylvia Gore
Ben and Kate Nielson