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EVOKE was developed by the World Bank Institute, the learning and knowledge arm of the World Bank Group, and directed by alternate reality game master Jane McGonigal.

Investigating Resilience Plans in our Cities

Posted by Joshua Judkins on 24 Apr under People and Ideas

Last week EVOKE Agents were challenged to find out what steps their city is already taking to increase its resilience, and to spread the word about it to others. Reports have come back in from Agents across the globe, about both the programs in place and the challenges surrounding them.

Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys provided an in depth look at the solutions proposed to the resiliency problems in Mexico City (Mexico) created by its massive growth in population over recent years. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Danielle-Anne O. Rubinos outlined some of the the programs which have seen Makati City (Philippines) internationally recognized as a resilient city.

A range of useful local resources were also discovered in Bangalore (India) by A.V. Koshy, Washington DC (USA) by Michele Baron and Austin (USA) by nomadHAR.

Agents in Grahamstown (South Africa) found out about a range of initiatives there. Dyllan Ocker writes about three of them – emergency evacuation, flooding control and a citywide “Greening Project”. This community gardening venture is also mentioned by Matthew Collins who learned about it in an essay called Risk to Resilience.  With Kirsten Moore outlining projects aimed at sustainable water supplies among others, it’s clear that plans for resilience in Grahamstown are indeed widespread.

Although some cities provided great sources of information, many Agents found it quite a challenge to locate local resilience plans. As Samuel Freilich discovered for Boston (USA), often there is no single centralized summary for a city – so you need to look out for a range of organizations that work towards that goal. Margie Alsbrook was surprised to discover one of the best resources for northwest Arkansas (USA) was their Department of Emergency Facebook Page.

On the other hand, just because the information is readily available doesn’t mean that it’s having the desired effect.  Erin Sammons from Hamilton (New Zealand) explains that even though the local Civil Defense service have been televising the need for disaster preparedness as she can remember, she knows very few people who have taken action themselves.

Another challenge to the spread of resilience information discovered by Oliver Hohlstein is the potential for language barriers. He found that although Bonn (Germany) is an international city and UN location, its information about the dangers and strategies for when the river Rhine floods are only available in German.

Finally, across the board most Agents reported that very few people they knew had considered the idea of urban resilience. Omri from Tel Aviv (Israel) suggested that http://www.resilienceproject.org/ is a great resource to point people to and provides a look at what is happening globally. Leah MacVie went on to raise the question of whether resilience education should be a basic part of our school curriculum.

After reading through these and perhaps even your own investigations, what do you think? What ways could we help ensure those around us have a better idea of what our cities are doing to improve their resilience – and how might we best see those efforts get the support they deserve?

One Response to “Investigating Resilience Plans in our Cities”

  1. Paul Arenas

    The educational systems in the world are macaroni with cheese… In other words; Every bit of knowledge is split up in little wrinkly pieces (the macaroni) and an finance based educational system (the cheese ofcourse) sticking it all together.

    Resilience is about over seeing bigger issues, overseeing how things work, where the risks are and how to improve or prepare for situations.

    If we would integrate ’seeing the bigger picture’ back into our primary and secondary school systems, (so not doing 6 years 30 chapters of math and THAN see the bigger picture, but try to see the bigger picture FIRST and than deal with the chapters), when they grow up they have the natural ability for looking for the bigger answers first rather than getting stuck in the details first.

    There are lot’s of theories out there, but somehow these theories are not yet making it to mainstream.

    If you are interested in this issue, have ideas or examples where the above problem is solved in secondary schools, let me know. Let’s fix it for our toddlers! So they do not grow up with macaroni and cheese brains like we did ;)

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