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As designers and planners, we have agency and responsibility in where and how we draw this line. In industrial cities, the legacies of distribution, degradation, and ownership of the waterfront cannot be solved by maximizing the square footage of protected land. How can this deceptively simple process of ‘drawing the line’, encourage a more nuanced discussion around the question, ‘what should we protect?’ in an era of climate uncertainty and risk. We explore this concept in the context of Chelsea, MA, a coastal-industrial city grappling with sea level rise and changing social and economic realities. Instead of seeing water as a threat, we can consider water as an asset - the line we propose becomes less about keeping water in or out but rather about creating opportunities for new projects on either side; new industry, new recreation, new remediation, which would otherwise be impossible.

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