Posts Tagged ‘community groups’

Post-hurricanes, northeast turns toward resilient power

The one-two punches of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy have spurred cities throughout the northeastern United States to invest in more reliable backup power systems.  These “Resilient Power” initiatives reduce reliance on generators (which too often fail when fired up) in favor of more resilient solar, fuels cells, and power storage systems that can provide benefits between outages as well.  A new Resilient Power Guide from the Clean Energy Group highlights early state-wide projects from Maryland to Vermont, which have spurred 40 municipal programs.  The first target is emergency response facilities: “More than 90 critical facilities in the Northeast – including emergency shelters, wastewater treatment plants, firehouses and other first responder facilities – will have resilient electrical systems in place to improve emergency response in the next year, and to protect neighborhoods in the next power outage.”  Click through to learn more about these trailblazing programs, then dig in a bit in your area to see how you might engage in some Zone 4 resilient investing to advance these efforts in your community.

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Resilient Cities program expanding worldwide

The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program is providing funding to cities from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Amman, Jordan.  A City Resiliency Framework, including twelve “drivers” in four major areas (see illustration) helps each city focus on its particular chronic resiliency challenges, and to set the stage for a nimble response if an acute shock occurs.  As examples: El Paso/Juarez is targeting water supplies as the southwestern drought deepens, while a 2013 mapping project in Kathmandu was reactivated after the recent earthquake to help guide recovery efforts.  From a resilient investing perspective, this effort is centered in Zone 4 (involving a wide range of community organizations as well as municipal agencies and government, which is funded to hire a CRO, or Chief Resilience Officer) and Zone 1 (nonprofit and volunteer efforts) and Zone 6 (habitat, landscape).  So far, two-thirds of the cities have been chosen, with the rest set to be announced later this year.

In looking over their blog, we were especially taken by the post on the mapping project, which jumped from the Kathmandu story to an Indonesian project that worked with an artists collective to map the city of Semarang:

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Greening in the red zone: resilience in broken places

Looking for some hopeful, practical stories of personal and community resilience?  Check out Greening in the Red Zone, which compiles inspiring stories of regenerative commitment from parts of the world where things have fallen apart, ranging from Syrian war zones to tornado-wracked towns in the midwest.

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Localism Index: how does your area stack up?

Chris Holcomb, a community advocate who has worked extensively with BALLE, has just put together a very interesting “Localism Index” of the hundred most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.  He summarizes his methodology:

Based on the results of this academic research, I compiled 5 different indicators as proxies corresponding to each area of focus. I applied this index to the 100 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States.

For Local Ownership, I used the Indie City Index from Civic Economics.
For Local Place, I used the average Walkscore of the largest cities in each MSA.
For Local Opportunity, I used the inverse of the Gini Coefficient of Inequality for each MSA.
For Local relationship with Nature, I adapted the Locavore Index for local foods to the level of the MSA.
For Local Relationships, I used the Social and Community components of the Gallup-Healthways Community Well-Being Index.

Each of these factors was then converted to a scale of 0 to 100, and averaged together to create the composite score for the Index.

Click through to his introductory page for a solid overview of his results, including maps of each indicator; or this list to see how your area ranks in each category and in total.

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What is resilience?

Resilience helps us to thrive by:

anticipating and preparing for disturbance,
improving the capacity to withstand shocks,
rebuilding as necessary, and
adapting and evolving when possible.

Resilience is a powerful remedy for our uncertain times, allowing us to learn to live with the fundamental complexity of modern life.  These are our favorite resources for getting up to speed on the ideas behind “resilience” and the ways that they are being implemented in communities around the world.

The Stockholm Resilience Center has produced some of the best educational materials for introducing the concept of resilience, including videos and brochures. Explore their rich site, which also includes research papers and arts projects.

Transition is a global network of local/regional groups working to build resiliency. While Transition began from the framework of preparing for a post-peak-oil world, the evolution of the movement has led to a wide range of local initiatives that foster local economies, social justice, increased renewable energy, and other projects that, like much in the Close to Home strategy, offer powerful contributions to any possible future scenario.

Transition United States compiles news and resources; also includes a map of the over 150 active Transition Town initiatives in the US.

Transition Network is the global Transition resource center.

Other great resources

Resilient Communities
is a project from the UK that shares some roots with the Transition Network. In the words of founder John Robb, a resilient community produces the food, energy, water, things, and incomes it needs locally.

PostCarbon Institute’s
An information clearinghouse and a network of action-oriented groups; features a lively exchange of ideas.

Resilience Alliance
A research organization comprised of scientists and practitioners from many disciplines who collaborate to explore the dynamics of social-ecological systems. Here you’ll find more of the academic soil from which creative community-building solutions are growing.

YES Magazine special issue on community resilience
Includes a range of articles, most relatively brief, highlighting specific resiliency-building initiatives.

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Gar Alperovitz: New Economy Movement

Gar Alperovitz has had a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official. He is president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives, and a founding principal of the Democracy Collaborative. His widely-praised book, What Then Must We Do?, looks at how our economic system got to where it is, and why the time is ripe for a new-economy movement to coalesce; it’s already becoming visible, and Alperovitz outlines how we can move it forward.

Gar Alperovitz website. Features current blog and articles, as well as information on his books.

Article: What Then, Can I Do? This article is a precursor to his book of a similar name, and features ten types of activism you can engage in to help the new economy to grow.

Democracy Collaborative. A research and consulting firm developing practical, policy-focused, and systematic paths towards ecologically sustainable, community-oriented change and the democratization of wealth.

Book: What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution. Alperovitz calls for an evolution, not a revolution, out of the old system and into the new. That new system would democratize the ownership of wealth, strengthen communities in diverse ways, and be governed by policies and institutions sophisticated enough to manage a large-scale, powerful economy. This next system is not corporate capitalism, not state socialism, but something else entirely—and something entirely American.

Video: What Then Must We Do? A forty-minute talk that introduces the key themes of Alperovitz’s book of the same name.

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How to Create a Neighborhood Emergency Plan

This website features a program aimed at helping neighborhoods get started planning for disaster preparedness. The Map Your Neighborhood program iis designed to help neighborhoods of 15-20 houses create emergency response plans. The website has other practical tips such as how to develop a family emergency plan, how to develop communications plans for emergencies, how to shut off the gas, water main, etc. Visit the website.

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Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

FEMA runs the CERT program to educate and train people to prepare for and respond to disasters. Through classroom learning and field exercises, participants are trained in basic disaster response skills. Once participants pass the course, they can join their neighborhood or workplace CERT team and assist others following disasters where professional responders are not immediately available or need more support. Website contains a searchable directory for programs around the country. Visit website.

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