Not all efforts to rebuild after Sandy involve bricks and mortar or bulldozers and FEMA maps, as the New Jersey Recovery Fund demonstrated Tuesday when it announced that it had awarded 27 grants totaling $3.8 million in the arts, environment, and media.
In her weekly news podcast, Debbie Galant, director of NJ News Commons, discussed the awards with Molly de Aguiar, director of media and communication with the Dodge Foundation, one of the founders of the recovery fund.
Galant was also joined by representatives of two of the organizations awarded grants in the media category: Scott Gurian, the Sandy recovery writer for NJ Spotlight, and Chris Satullo, WHYY's vice president of news and civic dialogue.
According to de Aguiar, the fund's goal is to help New Jersey "pursue smart recovery decisions" and avoid "repeating the type of devastation caused by superstorm Sandy."
She noted that New Jersey's infrastructure was already overburdened and outworn before the hurricane hit, but Sandy exposed and exacerbated those long-term weaknesses.
A key goal of the recovery fund, de Aguiar explained, is to "pursue long-term solutions so we don't find ourselves back in the same spot we were in the day after the hurricane hit.
One of the media grants went to NJ News Commons, an initiative of Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media. It will support micro-grants and training for existing and new hyperlocal news sites as well as for citizen journalists to encourage more news coverage in New Jersey, particularly in underserved areas throughout the state.
WHYY was also the recipient of a media grant for a series of forums it is hosting throughout the state. Satullo said one of the goals of the forums is to move "the discussion beyond the immediate crush of rebuilding," looking forward a bit, with the object of "building storm-resilient communities."
A media grant was also awarded to NJ Spotlight, which has established a year-long collaborative initiative with New Jersey Public Radio called "Rebuilding After Sandy." The project combines in-depth accountability journalism and community engagement to chronicle and support the recovery process.