Q & a with rainproof NYC Fellow Rifal Imam

Rifal Imam is the Rainproof NYC Fellow at Rebuild by Design, supporting strategy, research, and policy to ensure New York City’s equitably adapts to increasing heavy rainfall. Through her experience in multidisciplinary research, stakeholder engagement, and community outreach, she’s working on community education, stakeholder collaboration engagements, and systemic policy changes and implementation. After the launch of the Rainproof NYC working groups, we asked Rifal a bit about herself.

What does the Rainproof NYC Fellow do?

My work aims to build on and implement the Rainproof NYC– a multi-pronged strategy aimed at equitably adapting New York City to increasing rainfall. I work through educating and raising awareness among different stakeholders, supporting the Rainproof NYC working groups, building different public engagements, and bridging interdisciplinary research into action. 

How do you support the Rainproof NYC working groups?

I support the logistics, planning, research, convenings, communication, and engagements for both the steering committee and the working groups (and subgroups), and future public engagements. It’s a balance of stepping in to guide and stepping away to let the process of problem-solving unfold.

What motivates you to work on these issues?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been researching the politics of documentation through a new multidisciplinary lens and realized a missing component was climate change. I knew upon returning from my studies abroad, I wanted to spend time learning about climate while learning how to actively apply the research and experience I’d gained into community-centered multi-sectoral engagement, reintegrating myself back into my home, NYC.

What is the most important thing to tell New Yorkers about climate change?

Climate change is here and affects us all. It also provides us an opportunity to change the way we approach problem-solving–from an institutional level to our individual actions. Each step of climate adaptation into our daily lives, professional or lived, is an opportunity to change. 

What will NYC look like once it’s Rainproofed?

A sponge. That’s what really caught my attention about Rainproof NYC, the idea of turning NYC into a sponge. New York City might not look too different, but upon closer inspection, our infrastructure and attitudes have intentionally changed to live with water. Once we have been successful, we utilize our unique strengths to work together to solve any new concern that may arise.

What song do you like to listen to on a rainy day?

Any song by Hozier. Listen here>>