Creating Community Through Neighborhood Environment Monitoring

New Orleans, Louisiana

Featured image for the project, Creating Community Through Neighborhood Environment Monitoring

Image courtesy of Sustainia


ISeeChange is an enterprise whose mission is to connect communities to each other and their changing environment. They provide engagement tools for communities to empower participants with their own stories and data to investigate the impacts of climate change. The organization is launching a neighborhood pilot program in the Gentilly Resilience District New Orleans to further the climate resilience and creative placemaking efforts of the Trust for Public Land, the City of New Orleans, and other resilience partners.

Specifically, ISeeChange is launching a flood and subsidence investigation in the Gentilly Resilience District of New Orleans to inform planned green and blue infrastructure projects to manage stormwater under a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This neighborhood investigation will be a citizen science effort and include residents documenting their personal experiences alongside collected data (weather, temperature, etc.).

ISeeChange is developing a multidisciplinary project team to advise on, co-design and implement the project, including ISeeChange staff, scientific experts (e.g. subsidence and urban meteorology), local journalists, and community members, but additional expertise is needed.

The scientists engaging on this project, Brendan Yuill and Brendan Edwards, will collaborate with Julia Drapkin to inform the investigation design and contribute to the analysis of collected data and observations. Their input will ensure that the information collected through this effort is actionable, scientifically valid and useful. (For an example of an ISeeChange community investigation, see their Harlem Heat project.)

As a result of this project, the development and analysis of the ISeeChange Gentilly Resilience District pilot project will be informed by a scientific understanding of the community’s hydrology. Information concerning the most innovative, scalable work on flooding will be brought to bear on this effort.

The ISeeChange Gentilly Resilience District pilot project will facilitate community engagement in the collection of baseline data needed to finalize and implement green and blue infrastructure designs in New Orleans, and the integration of their personal experiences into the process. By collecting this data via citizen science, the people affected by local flooding will become more connected to each other and their environment.


Community Lead

Julia Kumari Drapkin is the executive producer and founder of She is a radio, television, and multimedia producer based in New Orleans with a passion for finding innovative ways to connect people to their environment and to each other. iSeeChange was born out of covering natural disasters and climate change science across the globe and in her own backyard. Drapkin has worked as the Senior Science Reporter for The Nature Conservancy; a foreign correspondent and environmental radio reporter for PRI’s The World and Global Post in South America; as a photojournalist for the Associated Press in South Asia and the St. Petersburg Times; and most recently as a multimedia producer for the Times Picayune. 

Scientific Partners

Brandon Edwards’ background is in coastal, aeolian and floodplain geomorphology, coastal and wetland hydrology, and remote sensing. His research focuses on studying geomorphic and hydrologic processes to better understand landscape development, the role of physical processes in ecosystem function, and how natural and anthropogenic modifications drive change. Brandon has been with the School of Renewable Natural Resources at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center since 2011 and is currently on contract as a Coastal Geomorphologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Lab working on projects to improve coastal restoration strategies.


Brendan Yuill is a research scientist with the non-profit, the Water Institute of the Gulf. His research interests span engineering geomorphology and watershed hydrology using both field-based and numerical methods. Recently, he has worked on projects relating to coastal restoration along the Gulf Coast with focus on land building sediment diversions and managing the impact of sand dredging on rivers. He is particularly interested in developing novel data streams useful for long-term, low-cost environmental monitoring. Brendan holds an adjunct position at Tulane University and received his PhD in watershed management and ecohydrology at the University of Arizona.