COASTAL COMMUNITY CENTERED
Crisman had been working with the Elizabeth River Project, undertaking various sustainability projects in the Tidewater region, for over 13 years. Much of her work focuses on coastal resilience.
“My background is both in architecture and urban design, and so I’m very interested in not just studying what’s happening, but figuring out what to do about it,” she says.
Crisman’s work also emphasizes including communities in the planning and design process. For her, the ability to produce effective sustainable design is dependent on working closely with the people who are directly impacted, to understand their specific needs. Her longstanding relationship with the Elizabeth River Project and focus on community-centered designs made Crisman and her capstone students a natural choice for the Ingleside Project.
Guided by the concerns expressed by community members, Crisman and her students employed their knowledge of stormwater and tidal flooding management practices to devise solutions. Pinpointing key areas in the neighborhood, they proposed the application of nature-based elements such as rain gardens, bioswales, and living shorelines to address the community’s specific needs.
AN EXIT STRATEGY
One of the community’s major concerns was the flooding of Fontaine Avenue. Over 30 homes in one subdivision of the neighborhood get trapped when the water rises out of Broad Creek and covers the road. In order to solve this problem, the students proposed constructing an emergency exit route, which would allow residents to safely evacuate in the event of a severe storm. The new road could be constructed on a marshy stretch of unused land that had once been a street but has long since lost its pavement. In its current state, this pathway is too soft for cars to drive on without getting stuck. Crisman’s class suggested that the new road be built from permeable pavement to avoid causing yet more flooding issues for the homes nearby.
The University of Virginia students employed their knowledge of sustainable design to produce a thorough final report for the neighborhood of Ingleside, suggesting strategies for mitigating flooding. The community-focused nature of the project set a new precedent for adapting to rising sea levels at the neighborhood level.
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