Sunday, August 27, 2017

Adaptive Planning for Resilience, Harvey, & the Gulf Coast Region

Recently, on Facebook, I posted about my personal reactions to what's happening in the Houston area and the Gulf Coast Region as it gets deluged by Harvey.  First, and foremost, I'm continuing to pray for my family and friends in Texas and the Gulf Coast region, and -- even more so -- to pray for the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the region, who are most at risk and have the least resources to adapt.  Everyone, be safe!  Second, though, this is a tragic, heart-wrenching example of what I've been teaching, speaking, and writing about for the past several years (all the way back to my time teaching at the University of Houston Law Center in Spring 2010): plan for the unprecedented. This is fundamental to adaptive planning for resilience. The predictions of 30 inches of rain and advice to shelter in place have now been replaced by predictions of up to 50 inches and regret that there wasn't mandatory evacuation. Why can we not seem to learn and apply core lessons from Katrina and so many other climate disasters?  For two years, the University of Louisville offered an online professional development course in Adaptive Planning and Resilience, which I developed and taught with 7 of my former students and which was taken by several dozen planning professionals nationwide and worldwide.  Unfortunately, no one from the South/Coastal Texas area took it.  It's very difficult to get public officials and members of the public to accept and plan for extreme and unprecedented shocks and changes, but, time and again, we face the consequences of minimizing risk and instability in complex multi-system dynamics.  Moreover, why can't we think in terms of Resilience Justice?  Resilience justice is about the structural inequities in adaptive capacities and vulnerabilities of marginalized communities, such as low-income communities of color.  It is about addressing these inequities through policy analysis and reform.  This is the work that my Center and I are doing these days, arising out of last year's collaborative work with The City Project and Robert Garcia in Los Angeles.  The need for policy and planning reform to address the vulnerabilities and capacities of marginalized communities is critical, yet we make so little progress and advance so slowly -- too slowly for events like Harvey. Breaks my heart.  Tony Arnold, University of Louisville

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