Economic Development Research Group Blog

Resilience: Beyond the Buzzword

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This fall, Hurricanes Florence and Michael presented a story that is sadly familiar. Disaster strikes, the waters recede and reveal the damage. A national conversation on resilience ensues. Will we be prepared next time? Can we be stronger than the storm? In adapting our infrastructure for a changed climate, the impetus for action is clear. However, translating resilience from buzzword to action is a generational challenge for planners. Understanding the history and meaning of the concept is a good place to start. Here goes. Resilience is not new. The Ancient Romans, for example, were very concerned with protecting their critical infrastructure: military roads, agricultural stores, aqueducts. The earliest Roman aqueducts were built underground to protect them from erosion and military attack. Like the barbed-wire fences surrounding modern airports, Emperors forbade planting and, presumably, loitering near their monumental works. Like ancient civilizations, we put systems in place to protect our critical infrastructure....
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