Building Community to Build Resilience

As Hurricane Isaac lashes the Gulf Coast, Daniel P. Aldrich argues that the "density and strength of social networks are the most important variables" in determining how communities respond to natural disasters.
August 29, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Aldrich is a political scientist who was teaching at Tulane when Hurricane Katrina struck, and subsequently decided to study how communities respond to natural disasters. He discusses anecdotes from recent natural disasters around the world that demonstrate the social capital built during communal civic and voluntary activities can help build resilience in the face of catastrophe.

Aldrich recommends several methods for building social capital in advance of disasters. These range from following "the example of Fred Rogers" and simply endeavoring to meet your neighbors to enhancing civic engagement through structured discussions.

"Just as the focus of Western development aid to poor countries has shifted from roads, power plants and factories to productivity, skills and entrepreneurship, so should the field of disaster recovery focus on enhancing resilience - people power - not just physical infrastructure." 

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Published on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 in The New York Times
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