Are You Ready for a Ruckus?

In the Fall of 2011, on the heels of an earthquake and a hurricane we asked: Will you be ready if a disaster strikes? What about your neighborhood? Who’s responsible for making a plan for your community? CUP worked with students in the CUNY College Now program at New Design High School and the Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law to investigate what disaster planning looks like at the community level.

To find out how NYC’s communities can prepare for a disaster, the group interviewed city and federal disaster planners, environmental justice organizations, and insurance mavens. They passed through security checkpoints to visit hi-tech command centers and situation rooms. They also looked at the on-the-ground facts in neighborhoods to examine the hazards they face in the event of a disaster.

Together with CUP, they created a visual primer on community preparedness, what it might look like, and why it matters. They presented their project at the American Red Cross’s 24/7 Emergency Communications Center in Manhattan. 

Resources & Links

College Now is a free City University of New York program, designed to prepare NYC’s 
public high school students for success in college. 

The Insurance Information Institute (III) attempts to improve public understanding of 
insurance—what it does and how it works. 

The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) plans and prepares for emergencies, educates the public about preparedness, coordinates emergency response and recovery, and collects and disseminates emergency information. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency works to improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. 

The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJAis a citywide membership network linking grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their struggle for environmental justice.

UPROSE is dedicated to the development of Southwest Brooklyn and the empowerment of its residents primarily through broad and converging environmental, sustainable development, and youth justice campaigns. Founded in 1966, it is Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization.

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the CUNY College Now program. Additional support provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the Henry Luce Foundation.

Special Thanks

Jeanne Salvatore and Justin Shaddix (Insurance Information Institute), Elizabeth Yeampierre and Moe Awawdeh (UPROSE), Herman Schaffer and Justin Land (Office of Emergency Management), Eddie Bautista (NYC Environmental Justice Alliance), and Sean Waters, Kevin Malone, and Sam Benson (FEMA), Cynthia Barton, Sabine Bernards, Jill Noelle Cannon, Carly Hoffman, Josie Holtzman, Kate Larsen, Stephen Fiehn, Stephen Miller, Maniza Pritila, Natalia O’Neill Vega, Keri Ouellette, Lee Robert, Chris Shelley, Alison Smith, David Stein, Cynthia Wennstrom, Stephanie Yee


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Fatima Abdul-Nabi

  • Teaching Artist Assistant
    • John Dalessi

    • Project Lead
    • Valeria 
    • Mogilevich

    • Project Support
      Christine Gaspar
      Sam Holleran

  • CUNY College Now
    New Design High School Students
    Christy Chavez
  • Oscar Fermin
  • Diosa Melenciano
  • Rosa Melenciano
  • Christian Ogando
  • Christopher Santos
  • Tajanay Sajous

  • Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law Students
  • Jeffrey Salazar, Malik Tucker
  • Coordinators
  • Nichalous Archibald, Scott Conti,
  • Pete Williams

Sophik Studio

Jennifer Korff

Graphic Design


Are You Ready? An Illustrated Guide to Preparing for Disaster
  • GOOD
  • October 29, 2012

[The booklet] is a tool for individuals and community organizations who’d like to start thinking about community preparedness, what that might look like, and why it matters.