should not be perceived as “owned” by any one agency. Broad-based participation is critical to ensure the legitimacy and long-term viability of the center, just as the committee has shown it is critical in community-based, resilience-focused private–public collaboration.


The term resilience was not in use when the National Governors Association developed its comprehensive emergency-management guide in 1979 (NGA, 1979). That document was written to assist governors in the transition to all-hazards approaches to emergency management through all phases of the disaster cycle. It emphasized coordination of resources and knowledge and the state’s supporting role in disaster response after primary response by local governments. Many of the conclusions reached by the present National Research Council committee are similar to those reached over 30 years ago in the report to the governors but scaled down to the community level, broadened to include a much more active role of the private sector, and made applicable with advances in communication technology. Our ability to identify, analyze, tap into, and create communication networks far exceeds what the governors in 1979 may have imagined. Our ability to listen, engender trust, and collaborate, however, has not kept up with our ability to transmit messages. To create a resilient nation, a nation of resilient communities must be created. Resilient communities can be and are being created through resilience-focused private–public collaboration originating in the community at the grassroots level and including representatives of all segments of the community with facilitation and coordinated support from higher levels of government and the private sector.

In reading a report like the present one—beginning with Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano’s remarks and continuing to the last guideline—it is natural to see building disaster-resilient communities as an end unto itself. But the stark reality is that the United States is attempting to maintain and foster its entire national agenda—to provide for public safety and health, to grow the economy, to protect the environment, and to maintain basic human values of freedom and dignity—community by community. And our nation of communities seeks to accomplish those goals on a planet that moves its physical matter from one place to another through extreme events (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes). Building disaster-resilient communities is essential for the whole of our national hopes and aspirations. Private–public collaboration is the starting point for building such resilience.


Drabek, T. E. 2003. Strategies for Coordinating Emergency Responses. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado, Institute of Behavioral Science.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). 2008. National Response Framework. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Available at (accessed March 11, 2010).

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