Vanessa Smith, Urban Planner, on Using Civic Art as to Drive Change and Challenge Mental Health Stereotypes

“One of the biggest challenges I see is how can we promote wellness alongside policies, programs, and design that address climate change? The effects of climate change and disaster response affect people differently, and communities that have been historically marginalized will feel the effects of climate change more dramatically.
I think about a scene in the movie Parasite during a heavy rain storm. One family’s home is flooded, they lose their possessions and have to spend the night in a gym with hundreds of other people affected by the storm. Another family is able to enjoy watching the storm in spacious comfort on higher ground. How does the trauma of dealing with the rain, loss of your home, and the uncertainty of tomorrow burden people? How do our urban systems, design and policies affect our wellbeing and support (or hinder) us?
hinking about the first family’s experience we could incorporate a lens of mental health into: new policy around rapid response after a disaster, retrofitting public infrastructure and housing, flood mitigation, urban design, and new types of place-based services and programs we can develop in and with our communities.”

Jee Lee, Founder & Creative Director On Realizing Her Own Vision By Creating Brand A.F.L.O.A.T and Paving the Way in Conscious Consumerism in Swimwear

“”Made in NYC” has a special meaning for me despite the relatively higher cost of production that comes as a result. “Made in NYC” has allowed me to have full, direct control over the entire process from sample making to production in order to ensure high quality. Additionally, I made it our goal to use sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics as well as minimal packaging, which is in line with what the acronym A F L O A T stands for— ‘All For the Love of an Awesome Tomorrow,’ signifying our commitment to raise awareness on sustainability issues.”