The term can be applied to individuals and communities. It makes sense to say that a resilient community has resilient citizens. The more resilient a community is the greater resilience can be found among its inhabitants.
How would we form more resilient communities purposefully? If we set out to make our neighborhood and local community more resilient, what are the best practices we should use?
OK. Let’s come close to agreeing what we mean by the term resiliency first. According to author Gregg Braden in his recent book, The Turning Point (1.) it turns out that the “study of resilient lifestyles and communities is a relatively recent area of research”. It’s not so easy to find a universal acceptance of either the definition of “resilience” or a single method or theory that points to how resilience is best obtained.
Mr. Braden suggests that the studies funded by the Rockefeller Foundation which drew upon the expertise of hundreds of scientists and researchers provide a good place to begin our inquiry. Within these studies are markers and broad principles that identify the characteristics or key elements that help us understand resilience.
Resiliency, according to the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities project, is “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”
Some identified core principles that contribute to these capacities are:
- Spare capacity and/or redundancy of resources that comprise local infrastructure
- Flexibility – the ability to change, evolve, and adapt in the face of disaster.
- Limited or “safe” failure which prevents failures from rippling across systems or reaching crippling, terminal, non-recoverable proportions.
- Rapid rebound – the capacity to reestablish function and avoid long-term disruption.
- Constant learning, with robust feedback loops
- Strong social bonds that bring many diverse community residents together. (Including better and more frequent interaction between public and private sector personnel.)
When a community must confront an emergency, the emergency management agencies within local government coordinate and dispatch the first responder community to handle the situation. A specific example of adding spare capacity to the effectiveness of emergency management services (EMS) would be the ability to recruit, train and maintain an active cadre of volunteers to help support the professional and highly trained 1st responder personnel.
Enter the Local Auxiliary Forces!
In a large disaster scenario, the use of trained volunteers already associated with a sponsoring EMS agency can make a critical difference in making up for the county’s limited number of professionals they can put into the field.
The depletion of tax revenues owing to the Great Recession has heavily impacted the funding of many local agencies that supply public services.Continue at Top
It is becoming more widely recognized that many county-level agencies are going to have to compensate/supplement for underfunded and under-staffed departments by using more auxiliary volunteerism where possible.
A national scale EMP catastrophe requires an all-hazard preparedness and planning approach.
This is where an expanded view of resilience provided by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (2.) can help us appreciate what vulnerabilities still remain that could hamper our own resilient response to a grid-down event.
Their definition of resilience is “the capacity of a system to continually change and adapt yet remain within critical thresholds”.
For us, in the context of a power blackout that covers a large area of the nation, we are prompted to ask: “In the absence of grid supplied electricity which could possibly be long-term, how am I and my immediate neighbors going to continue to get essential food, energy, water (FEW) supplies?” Continuing further, we may wonder how the community is going to insure civil order and security if there is an extended disruption/interruption of critical, life-supporting supplies and services in our vicinity…
I hope we can continue a mature, informative discussion in the national conversation moving forward. Want to know when we publish a new post?
PS. What would it take for YOU to consider committing more of your valuable time to volunteer?
(1.) The Turning Point Creating Resilience in a Time of Extremes by Gregg Braden Copyright 2014 Hay House, Inc. Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4019-2923-7
(2.) The Turning Point pg. 111