Sarah’s Snippets 1/16
“Home” or feeling “at home”: have you ever thought about what these things mean for you? What does it take for you to feel that you are “home”?
Usually it implies a sense of “security,” which Wikipedia defines as “the degree of resistance to, or protection from, harm. It applies to any vulnerable and valuable asset, such as a person, dwelling, community, nation, or organization.” Many people who experienced the devastation of Irene and Lee lost that comfortable feeling. While they may have rebuilt houses and moved on with their lives, the task of regaining the feeling of being at home has been a difficult process. Often there remains a sense of general unease, of feeling more vulnerable than before. This feeling is especially triggered by heavy rains.
SALT’s goals for economic and community renewal address this challenge. Although not a quick fix, strengthening economic opportunities, increasing the number of resources available locally, and assisting with stream mitigation will reduce the vulnerability of all county residents. Reducing vulnerability will increase the feeling of safety and, therefore, of emotional security. To put it another way: the more secure one feels in one’s environment, the more resilient he or she is. This is a big part of feeling “at home”.
The goal of long-term recovery or renewal in any community is to restore the personal resilience that comes from having a sense of emotional security in the place where they live. This, in turn, elevates the resilience of the whole community, which enables municipalities and their residents to work together more effectively for the overall advancement of the people living there, ensuring that it is a desirable place to live and to play.
Recently I caught up with a local resident whose family home had been totally destroyed and asked how their recovery was progressing. Since they own a substantial number of acres, they chose to build a new house on higher ground, utilizing some of the salvageable parts of their lost buildings. While they were able to move into the house a few months ago, they have been living in the basement with a makeshift kitchen and temporary walls while continuing to build upstairs. At the same time that they were building a new house, they were also running a large farm and trying to recoup their agricultural business losses. Their good news: on Valentine’s weekend, with the help of their family, they will move their furniture upstairs and celebrate finally being home.
But their story does not end there. They are also developing a new business that will expand their agricultural enterprise. In these ways this family is moving toward their own vision of the future — for them and for their family — in Schoharie County.
To me, this is the epitome of living out the SALT motto: From Recovery to Renewal.