The crystal-clear waters that surround Saint Thomas characterize its beauty, history, and the locals’ connection to the land; however, a changing climate resulting in sea level rise, increased storm activity, drought and saltwater intrusion are threats to the island’s assets and economic activity. St. Thomas’ location within “hurricane alley” triggers a precarious cycle of storm damage and recovery. In the past 30 years, 8 major hurricanes (Hugo 1989, Marilyn 1995, Bertha 1996, Georges 1998, Omar 2008, Irma 2017, Maria 2017) have caused signifi cant damage and loss of life across the island. Despite the continuous risks climate change will present to vulnerable communities and systems on the island, resilience is the cornerstone of St. Thomas’ history, people, and culture.
The purpose of the studio will focus on the island’s vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise in order to address the gaps between the island’s most pressing challenges and envisioning what a resilient island would look like. In addition, our work will aim to support current and past resilience work, such as Dr. Greg Gaunnel’s contributions towards the USVI’s hazard mitigation and resilience plan. Finally, our studio’s resiliency plan aims to approach the island’s interconnected challenges through recommendations that are grounded in values of solidarity, justice, and respect towards the St. Thomas community.