In the twenty-first century, building resilience is one of our most urgent social and economic issues because we live in a world that is defined by disruption. Not a month goes by that we don’t see some kind of disturbance to the normal flow of life."
- Judith Rodin, The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong
The word resilience can take on many different meanings. It can refer to the rebuilding after the tornado that leveled Joplin, MO or dealing with the aftermath of the civil unrest in Ferguson, MO. Resilience addresses the need to better prepare for and adapt to a changing planet where we’re seeing record global temperatures in the past two years and 2016 is on record to top that. Resilience can be implemented at the city scale, something that is underway in St. Louis as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. Resilience also refers to the critical need for fostering strong social capital which is a major factor in a community’s ability to address disruption of any kind. Overall, resilience signifies the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of disturbances whether natural or manmade.
Resilience can be explored from multiple perspectives. Social resilience reinforces the role of communities in building resilience, environmental resilience examines the role of natural systems to serve as mentors and models for resilience, and infrastructure resilience looks at the role of built structures and systems in fostering resilience. Likewise, resilience applies to a wide range of disciplines and experience – environmental studies, history, urban planning, business, political science, design, to name a few.
Here are a few readings about resilience that give some insight into this important topic:
- The Resilience Plan for the City of New Orleans 10 years after Hurricane Katrina
- Rebuild by Design competition sponsored by HUD that identifies innovative solutions to respond and adapt to changing conditions in the NY region
- Washington Post article about the difference between communities that bounce back and those that do not
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA is an architect and educator working on accelerating shifts in the design of the built environment to sustainable and resilient outcomes. With over 35 years of architectural experience at HOK, a global design firm, Mary Ann served as HOK’s global sustainable design director for over a decade promoting the implementation of sustainable strategies in all of HOK’s work and clients. Mary Ann recently served as the Resident Fellow on Sustainability at the American Institute of Architects addressing how architects can expand impact in sustainability and resilience.
As adjunct faculty at Washington University, she works with students across disciplines on defining new approaches to healthy, resilient solutions. Mary Ann is a former member of the Washington University Board of Trustees.
Mary Ann Lazarus teaches Introduction to Resilience at University College. This new course explores the multiple aspects of resilience from social, environmental and infrastructure perspectives and the key strategies to foster resilience across all scales. Students will be guided to apply course skills and strategies based on their own interests and goals.