Building Community Resilience
What Makes a Community Resilient?
Resilience is the capacity to recover from adversity or change, including adaptive capacity. Adaptation is a critically important part of resilience because it allows us to prevent further harm from significant change while making the most of the new conditions. By adapting rapidly to changing circumstances, our communities may not only survive challenges, but thrive.
Communities interested in becoming more resilient assess their vulnerabilities and make action plans to reduce their sensitivities and exposures to hazards of all kinds. For example, local governments can improve building standards to reduce heating and cooling challenges posed by severe temperature swings (cold and hot).
Improvements in social cohesion and civic engagement also improve community resilience, by increasing the capacity of volunteer organizations and providing more secure neighborhoods, among other things. Planning processes can help increase civic engagement by improving and communications and cooperation between cultural and service organizations and organizing larger community projects.
To improve economic resilience, communities can work to encourage and support local production of goods and supplies, increasing self-reliance and reducing the flow of funds out of the community. Programs to encourage local investing and entrepreneurship have been helpful in building both employment and production capacity. Local investments, consumption of locally owned products, and locally owned businesses all help to diversify the community’s economy giving it greater resilience. Two of the many national and international organizations working on these topics are the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org) and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies or BALLE (bealocalist.org).
Among other things, the Resilient Monroe! Project will guide citizens, community leaders and public officials through a series of planning steps to help build resilience, including:
- Climate Vulnerability Assessment & Action Planning
- Community & Resident Preparedness Training
- Public Participation & Civic Engagement Efforts
- Structural & Infrastructure Design Improvements
- Greater Use of Ecosystem Services (e.g., trees for cooling)
- Increase Emphasis on Local Production & Self-Reliance