On July 23, AIANY WIA hosted its first Community Service Day. In support of the committee’s pillar of Advocacy & Activism, WIA partnered with the Brooklyn-based climate resiliency non-profit RETI Center. Founded by the Red Hook community after Superstorm Sandy, RETI Center builds, trains, and teaches practices to help restore our built and natural environment.

A group of volunteers—women designers, architects, and students—gathered at the RETI Barge at GBX, Red Hook, to build and assemble the BlueBlocks floating gardens which are modular, floating, semi-submersible structures for challenging urban edge conditions, creating small salt marsh archipelagos that provide a range of ecological benefits for humans and other species. The morning started off with a tour of the barge led by Jae Wendell, Education Coordinator, RETI Center. The barge is an incredible space that demonstrates a closed loop system with active recycling systems, solar panels, urban farming modules, and even a biodigester! The tour was followed by Tim Gilman, Executive Director, RETI Center, and Jae Wendell, Education Coordinator, RETI Center, sharing information about initiatives at the non-profit and highlighting their partnerships with private organizations across sectors. Kavyashri Cherala, Architecture Fellow, RETI Center and Designer, Dattner Architects, highlighted ways in which architects can get involved with local community organizations and spoke briefly about her work with RETI.

Activities planned for the morning included pouring concrete, screwing on planks, wiring oyster gabions, building grass planters and attaching fishnets. Our incredible volunteers worked through the heat on the barge and some, on the water, to further the building of the modular garden. We thank the RETI Center for hosting, educating, and guiding us, and all the volunteers who participated in making this event a success.

This Community Service Day was hosted by RETI Center and supported largely by independent donors. Please consider donating to RETI Center if you are able, or share this link with your friends/ firms. You can contact Tim Gilman if you would like more information regarding their programs or want to plan a volunteer day/ field trip with your firm!