Sarah’s Snippets 8/18/2015
“A good meal.” Sometimes this means a straightforward, simple spread such as hamburger grilled, sliced local tomatoes and cucumbers, plus wedges of fresh melon. Other times the same phrase describes numerous ingredients combined to create layers of complex flavors that unfold gradually, tantalizing the taste buds. Life resembles these different definitions of the same phrase.
Last week I was privileged to spend four days in the Adirondacks attending a conference entitled “Resilience and Restoration Seminar.” The setting was simple, encouraging the 22 participants to relax and have an open exchange of ideas. The attendees were from numerous disciplines, organizations, and states who had backgrounds that made them stakeholders in these topics. Several were scientists studying ecosystem restoration. Another chaired a National Academy of Science committee that developed a white paper on the topic of community resilience. There were also community architects, a developer working for responsible restoration in the Rockaways, emergency preparedness specialists, a scientist studying sea level rise, and community representatives.
Because of the cross-discipline mix, the conversations quickly became complex. As the topics of resilience and restoration were discussed, it became obvious very quickly that these were not simple. Indeed more layers were revealed with each presenter. Even the definitions for terms were debated as the meanings could be quite different based on context. With such complexity, could common ground be found on which to develop some creative thoughts for solutions? The scientific facts created a matrix of often competing needs. So the larger question became, is it possible to integrate ecosystem recovery, human needs, financial support, and political environments to develop more resilient communities for the future?
While no absolute answers were found, it could be agreed that all of these elements are important to each community. Additionally, as the world “gets smaller”, each community needs to be stronger for only its own survival but also to assist others as challenges are faced around the regions, country, and world.
SALT has been focused on our county’s renewal and seeking to build resiliency in the local communities. We have also begun to work on more regional and statewide collaborations to share our knowledge and learn best practices from others. By continuing to share knowledge and adaptive strategies with local communities, SALT helps to build the local capacity to absorb change and still retain basic structure and function. This is community resiliency.
It is true that there are many layers to this idea of community resiliency. Yet it remains simple at its most basic level: it is humans living in harmony as part of our natural environment instead of lords over it. It is applying the knowledge we have today to move toward a better, safer tomorrow while searching for ways to keep adapting to new knowledge in the future. Mostly, it is being committed to our future, together.