We are recently back from Santa Fe, Argentina, where, under the Secondary Cities program of the US Office of the Geographer, Ecocity Builders teamed up with a local NGO, the Mayor’s office, and the local public university to host a three-day technical workshop on urban health in vulnerable neighborhoods. Sessions included a lab on urban issues and assets mapping followed by actual data collection in several informal settlements located on the floodplain adjacent to the city.
Attending from a Secondary Cities program in the Dominican Republic, Daritza Nicodemo, Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CEUR) in Santiago, presented CEUR’s work with Ecocity Builders in neighborhoods with similar circumstances to Santa Fe (data poor, high hazard neighborhoods) while keeping a nervous eye on the news as Hurricane Maria slammed into neighboring Puerto Rico.
A paradigm shift in leadership, education, corporate and civil collaboration in the face of escalating weather and storm events is critically overdue. Citizens, from children to adults, must become sensitized to environmental protection and conservation in their communities. The construction industry needs to offer affordable structures and building materials that offer better resistance to high winds and flooding. Cities need more than just disaster management or response plans, but general coping and survival protocols.
Up-to-date maps that show where families and structures are located, along with data and information about urban conditions provides a foundation on which to build better resilience plans and protocols. With accurate information on resource flows — e.g. sources and quality of water, energy, food, information, transportation, hospitals, and clinics, etc. — cities and citizens can create redundancies in their supply chains. If one source is compromised, there are potential backups.
Ecocity Builders’ praxis is predicated on peer-to-peer urbanism, the practice of providing citizens access to accurate open-source information and knowledge about their built environments, and the process of engaging them in decision-making processes as well as in the design and implementation of local solutions.
As we head towards the last quarter of the year, we are assessing our impact in 2017 and are looking to retool our programs and services based on lessons learned over the past nine months so that we can reach more people and have an even deeper impact in 2018. Keep an eye out for our updates over the next weeks and months!
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