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  • Writer's pictureJenna d'Arcy

The Rise of Resilience Hubs

Updated: Mar 19

Jenna d’Arcy, the City of South Portland Sustainability Fellow, shares how resilience hubs might be the golden ticket to helping our cities and emergency response teams respond to natural hazards posed by climate change. By implementing a resilience hub, community members can coordinate supplying resources, foster community cohesion, improve access to health improvement initiatives, and increase community-centered programs – all imperative to a climate-resilient future.


This January, I started my service term as an AmeriCorps Resilience Corps Fellow for the City of South Portland in Maine. As the communications lead in the Sustainability department, I get to work with a small and mighty team of people who are just like me: Looking to make a meaningful change in communities (with a BIG knack for environmental action). Although I’m only in my second month of service, there’s a word that’s been said more times than I can count: Resilience.

 

The climate crisis has progressively become an intimidating one, and we’ve begun to witness first-hand what scientists have been predicting for decades. Across the globe, global warming has caused extreme and abnormal weather events. The northeastern region of the U.S. recently saw devastating impacts from increased precipitation, where heavy storms caused coastal and inland flooding. Water surges uprooted major roadways, ruined infrastructure, and destroyed people’s homes. These events were all anyone could discuss, which triggered communities to - if they weren’t already- consider their current adaptation strategies and update them to plan for future climate impacts.

 

Community resilience measures a community’s sustained ability to utilize available resources to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, billions of communities showcased their response, withstand, and recovery framework. For some, this may have looked like (1) social distancing, (2) ensuring everyone has access to resources while isolating, and (3) gradually getting back to the “norm” with new health standards in place. Community resilience is also the foundation for resilience hubs.

 


 

A relatively new term, a resilience hub is defined by the USDN as a “community-serving facility augmented to (1) support residents and (2) coordinate resource distribution and services before, during, or after a natural hazard event.” At a minimum, a resilience hub should be able to provide emergency services during extreme events — including offering the community a place to gather to obtain information, receive emergency supplies, store and refrigerate medical supplies, receive basic medical care, charge electronic devices, and access the internet.

 

Outside of these criteria, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to establishing a resilience hub. Because every community is unique, each will require different types of resources depending on factors like population size, demographics, and geographic location. For example, one community might need a vegetable garden to accommodate food scarcity in their area, while another community might need better access to the internet. Additionally, resilience hubs often retrofit as climate-resilient hubs, which focus on creating a space to respond to climate disasters or impacts and building social cohesion. For example, as summers get hotter due to climate change, a climate-resilient hub can be a cooling center for community members. Climate-resilient hubs can be a space built with sustainable infrastructure, clean energy, and green spaces. Also, it can provide educational resources about climate change and sustainable practices, so that community members are well informed about climate risks and ways to adapt.

 

Resilience hubs are changing the game for communities that are experiencing climate change impacts. They provide a solution for community members to feel safe and secure in how their community will respond to disasters. To learn more about resilience hubs and get started in your own community, visit http://resilience-hub.org/what-are-hubs/ and https://www.usdn.org/resilience-hubs.html.



About Jenna

Jenna grew up in New Fairfield, Connecticut, but now resides in the city of Dover, New Hampshire. From an early age, Jenna participated in Girl Scouts of America, which helped her discover her passion for being a community leader, helping others, and ensuring the earth is well cared for. She achieved a bachelor's degree in Community and Environmental Planning with a dual in Sustainability at the University of New Hampshire. Jenna has since devoted herself to a variety of sustainability-focused careers: Working as an environmental educator, zero-waste shop clerk, social action volunteer in Germany, and a sustainability and waste fellow at Swiss chocolatier company Lindt USA’s headquarters. Outside of her career endeavors, Jenna lives an easy-going life drawing cartoons, painting, playing guitar, cooking plant-based foods, and seeing live music. As a Resilience Corps Fellow, Jenna is excited to help the City of South Portland achieve its sustainability goals, create connections with other fellows, and learn more about the greater Portland community!

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