2024 Forum

About the Series

Extreme weather events can have devastating impacts on human communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Yet, these impacts will only worsen as extreme weather event frequency, severity, and duration are made worse by climate change and recovery times are shortened, limiting the ability of already resource-limited communities to prepare for the next event.

Therefore, it is critical that extreme weather event preparedness and response are integrated into our climate adaptation strategies. This four-part virtual series, hosted by the National Adaptation Forum, will feature presentations focused on innovative approaches for minimizing the impacts of extreme storms. 

The ultimate goal of this series is to better prepare communities for climate-amplified extreme weather by showcasing approaches, plans, and community-engagement strategies that are being used across the country.


Session Descriptions

Session One: Stop Asking Us to be Resilient: Community Perspectives on the “Resilience” Myth

April 5, 2023

SESSION DESCRIPTION

Among climate planners, “resilience” has become nearly synonymous with “adaptation.” Just as the meaning of “equity” has spurred debate and self-reflection across institutions, the goal of resilience also requires scrutiny for how it has been applied – and perhaps taken for granted –by adaptation practitioners.

Resilience may feel like a nebulous and disingenuous goal in communities that are forced to experience cyclical, cumulative, and escalating impacts from climate change, pandemics, and racial violence. In 2021, Ashley Shelton challenged the ways in which the ideals of resilience have become distorted. “Resilience is a short term condition,” she wrote. “The idea that resilience is a permanent state is a myth supported by white supremacy. Failing to address structural problems while labeling the people enduring such problems as resilient is gaslighting.” (Stop Asking Us to Be Resilient: On Hurricane Ida, COVID-19, and Trauma in Louisiana, Essence Magazine).

This session will feature a panel of frontline experts, including Ms. Shelton, who will each deconstruct what “resilience” truly means to their respective communities, representing perspectives that span across cultural backgrounds, generations, and geographic regions. Does “resilience” accurately reflect individual/community goals? What resources are needed to pivot the focus from “resilience” as a stopgap toward more permanent solutions? What should be prioritized during post-disaster recovery to make their communities whole, not just restored? What do their communities need to thrive in steady-state times, between the storms? The session will conclude with a discussion with participants: Are adaptation practitioners asking the right questions? Are we listening?


SPEAKERS

Ashley Shelton, Founder and President, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice

Asti Davis, Network Manager of National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN), Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

Dennis Chestnut, Member, Resilience Hub Community Committee (RHCC); Executive Director (retired), Groundwork Anacostia River DC

MODERATOR

Jennifer Li, Staff Attorney & Adjunct Professor of Law, Harrison Institute for Public Law – Georgetown University Law Center


Session Two: Facilitating Housing Recovery to Extreme Weather Events

April 19, 2023

SESSION DESCRIPTION

This panel will discuss the culture, stakeholders, and systems within the United States that respond to meet the longer-term housing needs of displaced populations as climate-amplified disasters increase in size, scope and impact. Given recent severe weather events and the displacement of thousands of vulnerable and medically fragile households suffering home damage, this panel offers perspectives on the underlying causes and gaps in longer-term recovery. This panel brings together a selection of non-profit, foundation, university, and commercial practitioners to provide insights on the coordination, relationships, and technology necessary to facilitate housing recovery.


SPEAKERS

Brandon Callahan, Manager of Rebuild Operations & Clay Hunt Fellow, Team Rubicon

Matthew Topper, Executive Director, Stormwise Foundation

Saurabh Kulkarni, President, AnalogyPlus

Kate Burns, Executive Director, MetroLab

Joshua G. Behr, Research Professor & Bradley Fellow, Old Dominion University

MODERATOR

Carey Schafer, Project Coordinator, EcoAdapt


Session Three: Resilience Hubs: A Collaborative Approach to Support Neighborhood-Based Resilience in Marginalized Communities

May 3, 2023

SESSION DESCRIPTION

Resilience Hubs are an opportunity for local governments and community-based partners to collaborate on building holistic neighborhood-based resilience, often centered in marginalized communities; the same communities that disproportionately face worse impacts from disruptions like extreme weather events, power outages, and public health crises like COVID-19. Resilience Hubs are well-trusted, community-serving facilities augmented to support residents, coordinate communication, distribute resources, and provide access to safe and reliable clean power 365 days a year. As communities nationwide face increasingly severe weather due to climate change and rising economic and public health challenges, Resilience Hubs are an approach to center implementation at the neighborhood level and increase and improve resilience before, during, and after disruptions.

This session will provide an overview of Resilience Hubs and dive into lessons learned from local governments that are actively working with their communities to develop Resilience Hubs.

RMI supported seven cities in Texas to launch and scale Resilience Hubs in response to winter storm Uri. Ann Arbor is looking to develop a Resilience Hub in each of the five wards of the city, with two already operational. Resilience Hubs three and four are currently in the engagement and design phase. Austin is working to pilot six Resilience Hubs in Austin’s Eastern Crescent, with plans to build a future network of Hubs to serve the greater community. By 2025, the team hopes to grow the network to 20 Hubs.



Session Four: Assessing and Addressing Vulnerabilities to Extreme Heat

May 17, 2023

SESSION DESCRIPTION (click session titles to download presentations)

Presentation One: Understanding Heat and Smoke* Vulnerabilities and Cooling Needs in Oregon Households

Grace Kaplowitz, Consultant, Good Company, a division of Parametrix

This presentation will outline what extreme heat means in the Oregon context through an equity and environmental justice lens. It will include a snapshot of the 2021 heat event and subsequent heat-related deaths that catalyzed the State of Oregon towards various legislative responses as well as some case studies of coordination/implementation of heat-response and adaptation efforts related to housing, health, and human safety. *While the focus of this webinar is heat, we would be remiss to talk about extreme heat without also touching on wildfire smoke and the compounding impacts our communities are facing.

Issues of extreme heat and wildfire smoke are rapidly rising to the surface in every Pacific Northwest community and are being documented and planned for in work ranging from community Climate Action Plans (CAPs), air quality work, and adaptation/resiliency projects. This presentation will share examples of lessons learned and what information decision-makers and communities need to engage in this essential work. It will include highlights from our CAPs, Oakridge Air Targeted Airshed Grant program management, and the Oregon Cooling Needs Study (underway) on behalf of Oregon Department of Energy. This study is assessing the needs for cooling in publicly supported multifamily housing, mobile/manufactured homes, and RVs being used as housing. In addition to understanding the needs and opportunities for cooling in these housing types, we’ll focus on how community-based partner organizations can help us better understand the social conditions and behaviors surrounding heat and how people seek relief.

Presentation Two: Brownfields are so hot right now

Dr. Ida Sami, Director of Research and Impact, Community Lattice

Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States and heat-related disparities disproportionately affect those living in disadvantaged communities. Cities are faced with serious challenges to mitigate risks to human health, protect public infrastructure, and keep up with increased water and energy consumption. Brownfields programs and redevelopment projects can provide an immediate and actionable opportunity to meet these challenges and achieve urban resilience. In this session, we will share the latest research and success stories for using heat mitigation strategies, which will help participants identify, prioritize, and incorporate these strategies into brownfields planning. We’ll also dive into how extreme heat is amplified in communities where there’s an abundance of brownfields, and why extreme heat must be considered with any brownfields project.


Series Sponsor

This series would have not been possible without the generous support of the CO2 Foundation. We encourage you to learn more about their work.