Resiliency is a complex topic when focusing in on disasters. When we look to the political right, we see thinkers like Aaron Renn who believes that in order to be resilient one must first fail or be disrupted. Renn speaks of resilient individuals and resilient systems, rather than resilient cities. When we look to the left we see organizations like 100 Resilient Cities, which works towards taking the resiliency process one step further than sustainability in city policy, planning, and practice.
From our class readings, resiliency can be interpreted as the “bounce back” from stress or the mitigation of the stressor in the first place. Both of which have common ground in returning to a normal- whether that be a new normal or a former state.
First and foremost, the risk landscape needs to be addressed so that it no longer targets at-risk populations. To help create tangible resiliencies you can focus on improving infrastructure directly related to disasters. More specifically for San Francisco, it is critical we look at things like sea level rise when decided where to develop and understand the impact of climate change and our coasts. We can look to the SF better streets plan that created streets that are functional for transit and people, and also resilient to disasters. An example of this is utilizing urban forestry, storm water collection, and permeable materials during street planning and design. We also see examples of “sponge cities” in China designed to absorb and manage unexpected floods and water. When cities have the opportunity, redesigning with disasters in mind can minimize risk on population and create tangible opportunities for resilience.
Second it is critical to look at how neoliberalism and disaster capitalism play a role in how we currently create resiliency. Exposing at-risk communities to stressors will not make them more resilient if we continue to foster a profit driven disaster relief system. Compression time must also be taken to account in disaster planning to estimate how to provide quick and quality service to the diverse needs of at-risk populations.
Lastly, addressing the issue of disaster capitalism would allow us to create and define the system of “bouncing back”. We need to take a critical look at Disaster Capitalism and Chronic Disaster Syndrome perpetuated by neoliberalism. Chronic disaster syndrome is defined as long-term stress relating to unsettled circumstances and we continue to see this prevalent in cases like Katrina. Governments need to take a more aggressive role in service providing rather than relying on a ‘culture’ of resilience. It is critical to work with communities to create more dynamic systems to bounce back to when planning for disasters.
Additional Readings: Resilience and conservative views, Manhattan Institute.pdf