Resilient Cities Leave No One Behind
Day 2 of the National Adaptation Conference continued to focus on equity at the local level, with one speaker clearly stating, "We can't leave anyone behind in these circumstances. The solution is going to be at the community level. "City after city and Tribe after Tribe has similar comments, expanding the equity concept to include the need for "really clear, ongoing conversation with the community" and "open dialogues" to meet the challenges we all face. Again and again, 'Trust' popped up as a central theme, created by authentic relationships, clear communications, promises being met and, above all, patience.
The gaming seminar, where a number of us tried to allocate limited resources to help a hypothetical town prepare for a climate-changed future, was particularly interesting. Though it was all done in fun, there were winners and losers and at the end a participant noted, "It's already so difficult to figure this out from a technical perspective. And then to take it to the people who are going to be really upset adds another layer." As a local politician, I had to appreciate her candid assessment of decision making around climate change. Connecting the technical stuff with the human element is a huge challenge, one that can only be met when a community is having the 'open dialogues,' displaying the patience and building the trust with each other that so many speakers talked about.
The young man from Oakland who ran the last seminar I attended, one which ran an hour over its time, wisely advised that "It takes time to build community and trust" and another speaker emphasized that "It takes patience to learn from each other." We, as community members and community leaders, need to learn those communication skills, we need to be willing to take risks in reaching out to hear from people who are usually unheard, if we are to bring everyone into our resiliency conversation.
The constant message is that true resilience has a major "...equity peace. Who feels comfortable having those conversations? If it's just held at City Hall, that's not a venue everyone trusts." Developing the skill set to have those conversations, in places and ways so that people of all stripes will feel their voice has been heard ,is the ongoing challenge for all of us.