The Mayor's Special Advisory Committee on Neighborhood-Based Resiliency held its first meeting in the Ackerman Room of City Hall, with members of the public and press in attendance.
It was a promising beginning with Chair Craig Kelley, Cambridge City Councillor, leading the group in a discussion of how Cambridge might employ its unique resources to prepare for future challenges: the known and unknown, the catastrophic and quotidian.
As numerous cities across the United States and world review their resiliency strategy, spurred in large part by The Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities initiative, the Committee was asked to reflect on its specific mission to improve "neighborhood-based resiliency."
Members noted that the focus on neighbors and neighborhoods as the primary agents of resiliency highlighted the need to empower communities to respond to challenges, rather than relying strictly on centralized response systems, but cautioned against the use of defined neighborhoods to erect invisible boundaries between people.
The division of resources and services along invisible lines is not such an abstract idea in a city whose largest landowners, and more concentrated populations, are Harvard University and MIT. When challenges or traumas cross boundaries, how can a city create support networks and services that also transcend those lines?
In closing, the Committee identified several public and private entities to provide information at subsequent meetings. Those included the Cambridge Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health, as well as MIT, Harvard, the National Guard, and MBTA.
The next meeting will be held April 26, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. in the Ackerman Room of City Hall.
The March agenda can be viewed by following the link, as can the meeting minutes.