An important part of the workshop was to explore how resilience measures were being developed by and implemented in various communities. Dr. Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina, moderated the panel, Community Resilience in Action. This panel of representatives from three U.S. cities focused on the process of developing measures and provided examples of resilience measures projects being implemented in their communities. Panelists included the following:
- Arrietta Chakos, Principal at Urban Resilience Strategies and Policy Advisor for San Francisco’s Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Resilience Program, a regional planning agency that works with 101 cities, 9 counties, and many special districts in the San Francisco Bay area to advance livability and quality of life in the region1
- Jessica Martin, Director of the Boston Indicators Project,2 a special initiative of the Boston Foundation that aims to deepen civic understanding of the region’s key trends, challenges, and opportunities using high-quality, open data3
- Bethany Wilcoxon, Strategic Coordinator of Capital Crossroads,4 a regional vision plan which leverages opportunity, talent, and sustainability to ensure that Central Iowa continues to grow and prosper for current and future generations
Prior to the workshop, the panelists were given guiding questions:
- How did you identify your community’s challenges and priorities?
- What was the motivation for developing and implementing measures in your community?
- What process did you use to develop measures? (e.g., which stakeholder groups were involved in the planning, development, and implementation of measures? Did you start from scratch or work from an existing strategy or plan?)
3 As of the publication of this report, Jessica Martin is no longer director of the Boston Indicators Project.
- What components of your community did you measure and what are some specific examples of measures your community is using?
Arrietta Chakos discussed the ABAG Resilience Program, which supports recovery and mitigation research, planning, and action for a resilient San Francisco Bay Area with a focus on equity, sustainability, and resilience. The program helps local governments and residents plan for both long-term stressors (e.g., climate change impacts) and immediate shocks (e.g., short-fuse events such as earthquakes and flash floods) through several activities, including assisting local governments with climate adaptation planning, and updating or developing hazard mitigation plans.
Ms. Chakos defined community resilience as the “ability to live better today and recover more quickly from tough times.” Borrowing from ARUP,5 an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants, and technical specialists, and The Rockefeller Foundation,6 she discussed four aspects of resilience:
- Knowledge (leadership and strategy)
- People (health and well-being)
- Organization (economy and society)
- Place (urban systems and services)
One of ABAG’s efforts was the Loma Prieta 25 Symposium7 held in October 2014 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The Loma Prieta 25th Anniversary Symposium (LP25) marked the launch of a three-year public policy program to improve state and local laws that address community safety and resilience. The LP25 Symposium promoted a legislative program with the following goals:
- Ensure building codes meet community performance expectations via improved construction and retrofit standards
- Support guidelines to identify, evaluate, and update soft-story apartment and condo buildings
- Establish regional financial incentives to improve seismic safety of multi-unit buildings
- Convene lifeline providers and cities and establish a Lifelines Council in the Bay Area
Because ABAG works with numerous partners, from local government and community organizations to federal agencies, its biggest challenge is scale. Although the ABAG Resilience Program primarily focuses on hazard assessments and vulnerabilities, it is currently developing a resilience inventory, identifying successes, and creating a prototype methodology to help communities better plan for and build resilience to immediate shocks and long-term stressors.
Jessica Martin began her presentation with two questions: “What would a ‘successful’ Boston look like in 2030?” and “How will we know that we are making progress?” Led by the Boston Foundation and the City of Boston, the Boston Indicators Project8 was established in 1997. The first three years of the project were spent conceptualizing the framework, identifying indicators and measures, gathering and analyzing data, refining and incorporating input, and producing a final report and action plan. Since then, the focus of the project has been to address the two questions above using publicly available data, and to work with hundreds of stakeholders in the
5 Additional information is available at http://publications.arup.com/Publications/C/City_Resilience_Framework.aspx. [Accessed February 26, 2016]
6 Additional information is available at https://assets.rockefellerfoundation.org/app/uploads/20150530121930/City-Resilience-Framework1.pdf. [Accessed February 26, 2016]
Boston region to track progress on shared goals in 10 sectors: civic vitality, cultural life and the arts, the economy, education, the environment, health, housing, public safety, technology, and transportation. Project partners include community-based organizations, federal agencies, academia, civic and business leaders, and funders.9
Across the 10 sectors, community stakeholders and partners have identified 70 goals and 150 indicators along more than 350 data points (see Figure 2-1). In addition to the 10 sectors, the project examines data through different lenses (e.g., age, ethnicity, poverty). The project then makes the data available in multiple formats to communities on the MetroBoston DataCommon10 website; for example, data are conveyed in narrative or visual form rather than solely displayed as numbers, or in graphs or tables.
To promote innovative practices to expand community capacity, the Boston Indicators Project, in partnership with Northeastern University and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, holds “Data Day,” a periodic all-day session and workshop that helps a range of organizations and communities learn how use data and technology to advance their goals.
Bethany Wilcoxon presented Iowa’s Capital Crossroads,11 a vision plan for growth and prosperity in Greater Des Moines and Central Iowa. Des Moines has a history of visioning that extends from its 1990 vision plan and 1998 Major Projects Task Force, to its 2003 “Project Destiny” and 2007 “What’s Next, Downtown Initiatives.”
9 Partners include MetroBoston DataCommon, The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, The John LaWare Foundation, The Boston Redevelopment Authority, Planet-TECH Associates, and the Open Indicators Consortium. Available at http://www.bostonindicators.org/about/partners. [Accessed October 26, 2015]
Developed in 2011 and launched in 2012, this new vision combines successful existing strategies with new ideas. Several regional organizations participate in this project including Bravo, Catch Des Moines, Community Foundation Greater Des Moines, Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa State University, Prairie Meadows, and the United Way. About 5,000 individuals and organizations contributed to the process of identifying the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges through online surveys, focus groups, interviews, and public meetings.
Capital Crossroads focuses on 10 “capitals”: capital core, business, cultivation corridor, wellness, human, social, cultural, physical, governance, and natural. The plan operates under three guiding principles (Figure 2-2): (1) talent drives success; (2) capture high value opportunities; and (3) growth must be sustainable.
A question and answer session followed the presentations. Panelists were asked how they secured funding for these projects. Ms. Wilcoxon noted that there were no funds allocated to the Capital Crossroads project; rather funds were acquired for those projects that were deemed most important by leveraging partnerships. Ms. Martin noted that the Boston Indicators Project was created as a multi-partnership entity to ensure the work would continue into the
future. She recommended that communities address budget constraints by leveraging the knowledge, capabilities, and resources of those who have already implemented successful strategies and initiatives.
Panelists were asked to comment on how the concept of resilience became an integral part of their projects. Ms. Chakos discussed three sources of inspiration dating back to 2010: (1) the work that started with the Academies’ Disaster Roundtable and continues with the Resilient America Roundtable; (2) an Urban Areas Security Initiative-funded regional discussion in the Bay Area which set the stage for a number of research projects and implementation efforts (e.g., housing vulnerability); and (3) the California state mandate on greenhouse gas reduction, which was an impetus for communities to step out of their reactive positions and become more forward thinking. According to Ms. Wilcoxon, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) resilience grant helped inspire a focus on resilience. Additionally, resiliency has been a by-product of the Capital Crossroads project, and the involvement of multiple community stakeholders has helped drive their resilience agenda. Ms. Martin commented that resilience has become a stronger focus of the Boston Indicators Projects due to the sustainability movement and HUD grants.
Regarding the difficulties in collecting data from small towns and localities, Ms. Martin noted that obtaining data is often about relationship management, and that it is often easier and more productive to work with mid-level managers rather than high-level officials. Most of the data for these projects come from publicly available datasets.
The panelists were also asked how one could ensure public credibility of the data. Ms. Martin stressed the importance of bringing the right people to the table to reflect on the data and segmenting the data in several different ways (e.g., look at the data at the individual, neighborhood, community, and regional levels). Finally, Ms. Chakos suggested collecting data through “participatory research” by working directly with people in the community (e.g., Adapting to Rising Tides project (ART)12 and Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan13).
Dr. Cutter closed the panel discussion with a few comments and thought questions. She noted that the initiatives described by the panelists demonstrate that communities can embark on resilience-building by taking advantage of what they have already done; they do not need a disaster to strike in order to foster resilience. It is much more challenging to figure out how to turn tragedy into a triumph in a post-disaster community. In order to mainstream the concept of resilience, it is important for a community to build it into its existing efforts, find a champion to move the resilience agenda forward, and inspire civic engagement in resilience building.
When it comes to measures, Dr. Cutter stated that there are quantitative and qualitative measures; there are measures that assess the baseline characteristics of a community and measures that assess the capacity of a community to become resilient. Different tools may be needed to evaluate progress and measure outcomes. In closing, Dr. Cutter posed a final question for consideration: Are resilience measures inherently different from quality of life measures?
12 Provides staff support, guidance, tools, and information to help agencies and organizations understand, communicate, and begin to resolve complex climate change issues. Program elements include leading collaborative adaptation planning projects, assisting adaptation planning efforts, providing the ART Portfolio, building regional capacity for adaptation, and advocating for adaptation. Available at http://www.adaptingtorisingtides.org/. [Accessed October 16, 2015]
13 The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have partnered to explore an integrated approach to planning for housing, transportation, and jobs in the region. Available at http://planbayarea.org/regional-initiatives/Bay-Area-Prosperity-Plan.html. [Accessed October 16, 2015]