September 7, 2014 | Boulder, Colorado
One year after the Boulder Flood of 2013, the county came together to host a week of commemoration. Community members, local researchers, city and county staff were invited to share their stories of what happened, what we’ve learned, and how we can come together and bounce forward after this devastating event.
As part of this week-long event ISET-International and BoCo Strong hosted a lively discussion “Resilience: Boulder and the Global Context.” The event was broken into three sections:
Introduction by Marcus Moench, Founder of ISET-International
Panel Discussion of local and international experts
Musical performance by the Railsplitters
All of these discussions (and performances) are available online at www.youtube.com/isetintl
Marcus Moench, Founder of ISET-International, introduced the event by reflecting on his own experiences working abroad, drawing linkages between regions around the world—Gorakhpur, India; Da Nang, Vietnam; and the Himalaya of Nepal—placing Boulder in the global context.
See Marcus’ introduction at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZW2zVPtMJ8
Marcus’s introduction focused on:
There is a lot of global knowledge that Boulder can learn from, and also places where Boulder can contribute to the global discussion on climate resilience.
Thinking ahead, rather than remaining focused on the last disaster.
Know your neighbors. Personal relationships matter.
Recognize that we depend on complex systems (e.g. energy), failure of which can lead to cascading effects.
Individuals respond to disasters on their own behalf, before, during and after the event. Understanding what that action might look like and thinking about how to enable or integrate positive behaviors can lead to a thousand 1% solutions.
Those without an effective voice get left behind. Politicians move when they feel the heat, not when they see the light.
2. PANEL DISCUSSION OF LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS
Garry Sanfacon is the Boulder County Flood Recovery Manager. Garry created and served in the County’s first recovery shortly after the Four-Mile Canyon Fire in 2010. He has extensive experience in facilitation and community organizing.
See Garry’s Discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mehP0tRhqdQ
Highlights from Garry’s discussion:
Garry became the recovery manager for the floods by accident.
Recovery is still happening in the mountain communities. Resilience is not something they want to talk about—these people still need help now.
We know that there is another disaster coming. Recovery responders are exhausted—what would happen if another disaster hit today? Who would respond?
Communities in the “flatlands” of Boulder have a lot to learn from mountain communities who often don’t expect a government service to help out, but instead are well prepared to fend for themselves in a range of difficult situations.
Paty Romero-Lankao is a scientist and “interdisciplinary sociologist” at National Center for Atmospheric Research. Currently, Paty is leading the “Urban Futures” initiative. Cities are key players in the climate arena as emitters of greenhouse gases, vulnerability hotspots and crucibles of innovation. Her research explores the dynamics of urbanization that shape urban emissions, vulnerabilities and risk. She has also analyzed why and how urban populations and decision makers attempt to meet the challenges of reducing emissions while improving their resilience to floods, air pollution and other environmental impacts. Along with other scientists, she is designing urban interdisciplinary studies that inform and are informed by global interdisciplinary research. She has participated in global and local endeavors promoted by UNDP and UN-HABITAT. She was co-leading author to Working Group II of the Nobel prize-winning IPCC AR4, and is currently a convening author of IPCC: AR5, North American chapter. She cares deeply about her family and friends, but she is also passionately engaged in finding options to move humankind toward a more sustainable and fair future.
See Paty’s discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBCRWh-iET4
Highlights from Paty’s discussion:
As someone who studies these events, even she found it difficult to really understand the gravity of the situation as it was emerging. Many people don’t expect something like this to happen to them.
There is no one solution.
Infrastructure: Different layer/levels of problem solving.
We must pay attention to design. Sump pumps may not work—water could flow right back in.
We need effective public policy.
Boulder, as a community, should see the flood as a reminder that we need to develop a series of collective and individual actions to respond to future events like the flood.
Brett KenCairn is the Senior Environmental planner for Boulder County. He has worked across the western US on community-based sustainable development in primarily rural, native, and ethnic communities. He also helped launch several private sector entities in renewable energy development and worked in a non-profit connecting veterans to green job opportunities. See Brett’s discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7fHlGvMsRg
Highlights from Brett’s discussion:
What does resilience mean in the context of city planning?
Sustainability=Stability, yet change is inherent in everything.
We can’t have stability without change. Acknowledging this compels us to realize that we cannot create robust systems that cannot change—such systems are brittle and will inevitably fail. Instead, we must prepare for disrupt