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Building Resilience From the Community Up

When disaster strikes, we tend to think big. What will the city do to help the affected population? The federal government?

But in fact, many of the innovations that have helped communities respond to and recover from disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and the Boston Marathon bombing have originated in living rooms, community centers, and town halls, rather than city halls. And so have many of the most promising ways to address longer-term disasters like climate change and economic shocks.

In other words, almost all resiliency is local. And that means our centralized disaster-response infrastructure requires a rethink: Instead of only sending out federal personnel to disaster sites to lead and manage local officials and first responders when a crisis hits, it's becoming clear that we need to build and support a network of local and small-scale, long-term resiliency organizing.