Building Sustainable Resilience

Concept for Building Sustainable Resilience 

Complementary efforts at George Mason University (GMU), STAR-TIDES and Collaborative Community Resilience (CCR) are coordinated through GMU’s Community Resilience Lab, they help build individual and community resilience to natural and man-made emergencies while increasing economic and other opportunities in under-served communities. Beyond just bouncing back, resilient communities can absorb shocks and yet provide improved services afterward– “Be prepared to bounce forward better.” The goal is to reduce pressures for migration and marginalization through a five-part approach:

(1) Community Focus: builds on CCR which focuses on specific, under-served communities to change threats of job loss, climate change and other stresses into opportunities via innovative approaches to governance, resilience, economics and technology.

(2) Knowledge-Sharing: taps into assets in the global STAR-TIDES knowledge-sharing network which has several thousand nodes, from universities in Asia to NGOs in Europe and Africa, to diverse governmental agencies.

(3) Innovative Economics: can help communities build more diverse and resilient economies. Alternative community economic models could be useful, such as networked economic structures, reachback support to remote mentors, and “peering/sharing” approaches.

(4) Integrated Platforms: seek to blend multiple infrastructures and technologies with innovative economic models in community-centric ways. If traditional jobs are not available an alternative approach might include community-centered, medium-tech, opt-in markets where, for example, hydroponic agriculture is supported by 3D-printed local parts, while security is increased by LED lighting powered by distributed energy that also supports comms and cheap clean water. Platform mixes and models will vary by community.

(5) Learning and teaching: Trans-Disciplinary research and teaching are key to CCR. Both academics and practitioners are essential. All CCR projects are bottom up efforts. They start by listening to community views on governance, development/sustainability, and resilience before addressing technology (which is informed by inputs from the STAR-TIDES network).

Implementation will need to:

  • Identify the types of manufacturing and facilities that would be most valuable.
  • Identify communities on which to focus, laying out criteria for success.
  • Bring together people who can: (1) engage the community and articulate its needs, (2) do a systems analysis of how to integrate the various project components, (3) communicate that analysis to stakeholders, (4) fit technologies with governance, resilience, and economics, (5) support project managers and community leaders, and (6) monitor execution and iterate.
  • Identify resources and bring them to bear. Articulate projects in terms of risk management and return on investment (ROI) to make them attractive to private investment
  • Keep the channels of communications open to sponsors and participants

CCR and STAR-TIDES can contribute to other projects such as GMU’s partnership with Shepherd University in Appalachia, distributed resilient manufacturing for defense, and disaster relief.