Dr. Michael Forster

Two takes on “community resilience”: RAND Corp. and LowerNine.org

In a single day last week I got two very different perspectives on the challenges of “building community resilience” in the process of long-term disaster recovery. 

The RAND Corporation’s Gulf States Community Resiliency project is developing a web-based course on the subject, and developers invited me to participate in a review session in downtown New Orleans.  Though the RAND session shot most of the day, I had a chance that afternoon to visit a small community-based organization, “lowernine.org,” that helps residents of the Katrina flood-devastated Lower Ninth Ward rebuild their homes – mustering volunteer labor to assemble owner-purchased materials.   

Each organization might rightfully claim to anchor one end of a continuum – RAND on the side of high-flying analytics and conceptual rigor, lowernine.org on the side of roll-up-your-sleeves, get-down-in-the-dirt-and-do-it practicality. 

Both ends of the spectrum are not only useful, but doubtless essential, to the myriad challenges of long-term disaster recovery and community strengthening.  But to see them juxtaposed, as it were, so starkly in so short a span of time was a rare eye-opening experience for this social work educator.

Dr. Michael Forster
Dr. Michael Forster

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