The coronavirus pandemic has exposed our failure to develop systems that are sustainable. In some ways, we could learn a lot from the Indigenous people, who lived in what we call North America for 10,000 years or more before settler-colonialism. Do we need to ‘decolonize’?
Communities need to plan not only for short-term disruption from storms and other major events & for predictable but severe developments such as the pandemic, but also for resilience in the face of long-term sustainability concerns, including the effects of global warming and climate change. (Resilience is often thought of as the ability to spring back from an emergency, but it also applies to slower long-term concerns.)
In many cases long- and short-term plans are developed separately, without real community engagement, and without facing the difficult choices that are needed. In addition, many do not include effective communication, either about the planning process or when plans need to be put into action.
Rethink the System, Work for Change
Interns will explore community planning needs, processes for engaging the community, and the need for more effective communications. Individual interns will, in most cases, focus on a specific location or type of location, but will look at both short-and long-term contexts.
Depending on the focus, this will involve some or all of the following activities:
- Research approaches for community resilience & planning, including what other communities have done, to create plans that:
- engage a wide spectrum of people in planning processes
- benefit all, including those who are vulnerable
- communicate effectively about threats to health & safety (both short- and so long-term)
- consider intersections among the responsibilities of individuals, institutions, communities, and larger regions
- Work with community members, educators, & local organizations to explore possibilities.
- Take action to raise awareness and understanding of the need for communities to plan for resilience and sustainability, by creating presentations, fact sheets, reports, and/or posters.