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Op-Ed: Seattle Resilience Roadmap Feels 'Retrospective'

Natalie Bicknell notes several deficiencies in the roadmap that resulted from Seattle's participation in the Rockefeller Foundation's now-defunct 100 Resilient Cities program.
September 29, 2019, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Puget Sound

When the Rockefeller Foundation pulled the plug on its much-vaunted 100 Resilient Cities program earlier this year, Seattle was still in the middle of its process. "As a result, in comparison to the work achieved by other cities, Seattle's Resilience Roadmap feels rushed and strangely backward looking. Reading through it, I was struck by how the material resembles a laundry list of achievements accomplished by current Mayor Jenny Durkan's administration," Natalie Bicknell writes.

In addition to a generally retrospective focus, the roadmap is also light on details when it comes to weathering natural disasters and climate change. That is, the reasons why resilience became part of the conversation in the first place. 

"Seattle's report contains only one slim section devoted to its current strategies for combatting climate change," Bicknell says. And "for a city as threatened by earthquakes as Seattle is, the even shorter shrift given to natural disaster preparedness is a major weakness of the report." 

Despite the Seattle roadmap's shortcomings, Bicknell concludes with a word of praise for the erstwhile program. "What 100RC seemed to understand is that cities are complex ecosystems. Establishing urban resilience doesn't result from disconnected programs and policies; instead it arises when the interconnected nature of urban and environmental challenges is acknowledged."

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Published on Monday, September 9, 2019 in The Urbanist
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