Resilience in Community Development – Recommendations from the Climate Equity Council of Cumberland County

Resilience in Community Development – Recommendations from the Climate Equity Council of Cumberland County

In an effort to increase the social inclusion, equity, and participation of Fayetteville’s most vulnerable communities in the implementation of the Cumberland County Climate Resiliency Plan, PowerUp NC has convened the Climate Equity Council of Cumberland County. By incorporating national climate equity benchmarks, local participatory action research, one on one interviews with local residents, and ongoing engagement with low-income communities of color, the Council seeks to apply climate equity principles to the local community development context.

Climate Equity Council defines community resilience as follows: a community’s ability to withstand and recover from hard times while building greater social, environmental and economic justice for all.

Actionable Recommendations: The following recommendations are ranked in order based upon range of reach, leverage potential of local resources, costs, and the set of activities enabled through the action. While these recommendations are intended to merge with the Cumberland County Climate Resilience Plan framework some of them require a high level of City ownership and sponsorship, while others may require collaboration to create a new model and/or program outside of the city’s direction.

Principle 1: Inclusive Engagement

Include communities of color and other under-represented populations in every step of local and regional planning processes, from the definition of goals to implementation. Proactive, culturally appropriate strategies will be undertaken to involve and empower these populations through the implementation of climate protection-related actions and programs.

Recommendations:

1. Establish Advisory Network of Low-Moderate Income Neighborhood based Institutions: Through this mechanism the rich network of community-based organizations have a clear point of engagement in the iteration of implementations through the Climate Equity Council of Cumberland County. Existing networks, such as PowerUp NC and Sustainable Sandhills, make for ease of implementation.

2. Utilize the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters Foundation Communication Toolkit for Resilience Communications and an associated Customized Communication Resource for Community Applications: Consistent, relevant, and straightforward language will enable effective outreach, engagement and partnership for all additional activities. Targeting this resource towards leadership development programs (Finding Our Frontlines) provide “Resilience Curriculum in Accessible Language” that embeds awareness into existing channels of education.

3. Host Dedicated Forum to Define Community Development, Sustainability and Resilience: While there are many activities in multiple communities addressing principles of environmental sustainability and elements of resilience, there is no primary forum to define City wide goals and objectives. Leverage of the Fayetteville Community Strategic Planning Session that takes place once a year may serve as an adequate venue for such a dialogue.

Principle 2: Access

Invest in neighborhood accessibility by bringing services to underserved neighborhoods and supporting equitable expansions of public transit and renewable energy.

Recommendations

4. Integrate Resilience Oriented Evaluation to Neighborhood Allies Funded Projects: As a primary hub for funding for communities and organizations in vulnerable places, this serves as an appropriate and effective push for both planning and data collection. Parameters of criteria and information need to be honed.

5. Host Quarterly Community Information Sessions on a Range of Topics: The key to this will be to conduct the meetings in alignment with existing Community gatherings to maximize audience attendance.

6. Establish Standardized Participatory Data and Needs Assessment Process: Primary climate based needs are modeled per community as it pertains to flood management and air quality. Yet a consistent process to identify local social and environmental threats needs to be established and represents an opportunity for engaging residents in such a data collection process.

Principle 3: Health

Address factors leading to health disparities such as barriers to active lifestyles, transportation, pollution exposure, and unequal access to green space, healthy food and other natural resources.

Recommendation

7. Develop Grassroots Community Health Engagement Strategy (e.g. Mobile Engagement): Translating planning and theory into tangible activities designed to involve community members could be a highly effective method to enable increased awareness and even social unity.

Principle 4: Safety and Livability

Promote investments in housing energy efficiency that make housing safer, more comfortable and affordable and in community infrastructure that increases pedestrian and bike safety and accessibility and other elements of livability.

Recommendation

8. Host 2017 Resiliency Housing Forum: Changing neighborhood demographics, shortage of affordable housing inventory, and pending legislation combined with a solid set of community development resources and liaisons make this an ideal issue to embed resilience planning and information dissemination.

Principle 5: Prosperity

Promote entrepreneurial and established business opportunities to employ and empower low-income households and communities of color, and maximize those opportunities through equitable hiring and contracting policies that target under- represented populations.

Recommendations

9. Establish Program for Developers to Work with Neighborhood Level Plans: Building from existing priorities within City Planning, this type of activity may yield points of leverage and investment.

10. Establish a Neighborhoods Empowerment Network of Equipped and Informed Individuals: Based off of the concept that networks of motivated residents are key to embedding resilience concepts directly into neighborhoods. These Ambassadors would be responsible for implementing tangible actions that would directly result in an increase in awareness around resiliency and tools required for improving community health and conversations around resiliency. While requiring a high level of program administration and costs the opportunity to cultivate a network of expertise at a community level enables a high level of capability and success for almost all of the other recommendations. PowerUp NC’s Climate Equity Council combined with Sustainable Sandhills Weather Ready Program may serve as effective partners.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Over the past several decades, our region has faced numerous acute and chronic stressors that have hampered our growth. An increased sense of responsibility for our actions means that the future of Fayetteville will be shaped by the residents who call this city home. This report outlines some of the earliest interventions related to the development of communities that will engage, empower and equip individuals to be a part of the process of creating more resilient places.

Moving forward, it will be critical to work with partners identified in this report to determine the feasibility of each recommendation. We have ranked each recommendation on several criteria to determine which should be prioritized to receive funding. In the continuation of our work, the next steps in this process are:

  • Sustain coordination with key partners to verify the prioritized recommendations and determine the feasibility for moving forward in the short-term with a handful of those highlighted as high priority.
  • Continue to treat this report as a working document, meaning that recommendations are subject to modification and development as more work around the final resiliency plan solidifies.

A resilient community can mitigate both its contribution to climate change and the disruption caused locally by chronic and acute stressors. As an organization, we are dedicated to increasing the resiliency of communities in our region, however, increased investment in both people and place is needed to accomplish this.

We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the community development sector in order to identify the resources and champions necessary for building resiliency in Fayetteville.