There is no doubt that disaster will occur, and people will be involved with a crisis somehow or another. The thing that is important to think about though is whether you will be permanently damaged by this crisis, whether you will be resistant to the crisis, or whether you will be resilient.
Resilience is a process linking a set of adaptive capacities to a positive trajectory of functioning and adaptation after a disturbance. What this means is that after a crisis occurs, whether it be as catastrophic as an earthquake or hurricane, or simply breaking up with your significant other, you are able to bounce back. There are usually three options for a response to a crisis:
1. Permanent damage – you never recover from a crisis, with it usually settling in depression and haunting you for the rest of your life.
2 . Resistance – shrugging off a crisis as though you never cared and it does not affect you. This can end in mounting hidden resentment or simply you becoming a stoic, unemotional person.
3. Resilience – being affected by a crisis, but being able to come to terms with it and move on from it in a good way.
Option 3 is obviously the best of the three, however it is also very difficult to do. There are many factors that play into this. Four main factors of this are:
1. Economic Development
2. Social Capital
3. Community Competence
4. Information and communication
If you make all 4 of these your top priority then you will be well on your way to recovering from any crisis.
While Norris et al. was able to compile a list of over 20 difference definitions for the term ‘resilience’, they conclude that the word basically means the ability to succeed despite facing difficulties, or in essence, to be able to adapt. Community resilience, then, can be called a collective group’s (a community’s) ability to push through and adapt to difficult situations or stressors.
A stressor can differ in their strength, duration, and how unexpected they were. These stressors also present danger, of which there are two kinds:
- Known unknowns: These are the dangers that you know are possible, but it can’t be predicted when they will occur.
- Unknown unknowns: These are the dangers that are new to you and are both unfamiliar and unpredictable.
According to Comfort (2005),
Information may be the primary resource in technical and organizational systems that enables adaptive performance
This means having good communication strategies is essential for community resilience, as well as a community’s ability to recover after a crisis. Some such strategies may include:
- Correctly transmitting correct information from a trusted, reliable source: During a crisis, citizens won’t have a whole lot of spare time on their hands, so it’s imperative they know where they can go to quickly find useful, reliable information about the circumstances.
- The presence of communal narratives: These are narratives composed by individuals who were directly affected by the crisis and can give in-depth detail of what occurred and how it affected them. These narratives are important to community resilience because they create a shared experience and purpose amongst community members which can make the community feel more connected and, in turn, resilient.
- The media must be careful how they frame a crisis situation: The media is obviously going to play a large role in how the public perceives what is going on and how others are reacting to a crisis situation. Tierney et al. suggests that if the media exaggerates instances of criminal behavior taking place in a crisis, then police who would otherwise be helping survivors would instead be pursuing criminals, leaving less help for survivors. This would undoubtedly put a damper on community resilience, as the citizens would feel as though the community as a whole isn’t putting the proper effort into adapting and conquering the situation.
These examples are just a few communication strategies which play a huge role in community resilience. As Norris et al., said,
Community resilience has extraordinary value as a strategy for disaster readiness,
That means it is imperative that proper communication strategies are used to ensure that communities are as prepared as possible for any disaster or crisis that heads their way.
A process linking a network of adaptive capacities (resources with dynamic attributes) to adaptation after a disturbance or adversity.
- Be able to collaborate effectively in in identifying the problems and needs of the community
- Be able to achieve a working consensus on goals and priorities
- Be able to agree on ways and means to implement the agreed upon goals
- Be able to collaborate effectively in the required actions
The word resilience is defined as a process linking a set of adaptive capacities to a positive trajectory of functioning and adaptation after a disturbance. Since reading that gives me a minor headache, it can be more simply defined as the power or ability to return to an original form after being altered. So, this is to say, how quickly can a community recuperate after a devastating tornado? Or how much success can an airline have after a plane crashes do to a preventable technicality? Therefore increasing resilience would increase stability. According to the assigned article,
resilience can be described as a set of networked adaptive capacities.
This involves information and communication, community competency, social capital, and economic development. These include details such as responsible media, skills of infrastructure, community action, flexibility and creativity, perceived social support, sense of community, and fairness of risk and vulnerability to hazards.
Many of the action steps that we have discussed in class are viewed in the reading as ways to increase community resilience. All in all, preventing, reacting, and planning must be taken into consideration in a hazardous situation in order to increase the likelihood of resilience. Without planning for possible events of crisis, proper techniques and resources will not be at the hands of organization, cities, etc. Reacting efficiently and activating clear and relative communication immediately after a crisis and in the aftermath of a crisis allows the public and members directly effected to feel that normalcy can once again be achieved. Finally, taking learned lessons from the hazardous events and acting upon them will help to instill a since of preparedness that will ultimately complete the cycle of resilience.
Applying an example to a situation from the statements above, we can look at the crisis of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many felt that the
planning by the government was insufficient and had much to do with the ease in which the terrorists were able to enact their plans. Whether or not this is actually true, the media portrayed it to be so in many situations, and therefore the idea was put in the mind of the public eye. The immediate aftermath of the attacks included a vast amount of reactions to the situation. The government started to make plans of war, acts of security, public apologies etc. Organizations and media began to spread messages and feelings of community via radio and TV ads, as well as donations and aid to the relief. In the later aftermath, prevention tactics were enabled throughout the United States, many of which we use still use today. Airport security was heightened immensely after the attacks, and is still at a much higher level today then it was previously to the attacks. We are still involved in war a decade later, which has the overall goal to keep us safe and prevent the ability for any other attacks.
From this example as well as all other examples of resilience, it is apparent that a lot of work often must go into creating normalcy after a hazardous event. While this can be achieved by planning, reactions, and preventative steps, it is important to remember that though resilience is strived for, the community, organization, etc. effected by the event must gain knowledge and grow from it, or the point of resilience would not exist.
Resilience occurs when a community or organization “bounces back” from a crisis or disaster.
The 4 major aspects of community resilience are:
- Economic Development
- Social Capital
- Community Competence
- Information and Communication
Economic Development strategies include fairness and risk of vulnerability to hazards, level and diversity of economic resources, and equity of resource distribution.
Social Capital strategies include received social support, perceived social support, informal ties, organizational linkages and cooperation, citizen participation, and sense of community
Community Competence strategies include community action, flexibility and creativity, and critical reflexion and problem solving.
Information and Communication strategies include narratives, trusted sources of info, skills and infrastructure, and responsible media.
The above strategies are recommended in preparing for and recovering from a crisis.
Why is resilience so important?
–Communities and organizations need to be able to recover in the aftermath of a crisis.
There are several ways in which resilience can be accomplished. Resilience can be prepared for before disaster strikes by:
- Develop economic resources
- Reduce risk and resource inequities
- Focus on areas with greatest social vulnerability
- Create organizational networks and relationships ahead of time
- Social support interventions
There are many other ways in which communication can occur in order for resilience. After a crisis, the organization or society should come together. The more that the entire organization comes together as a whole, the easier it will be for them to bounce back to life before the crisis.
Take the city of Joplin for an example. They are using several communication efforts in order to return the city to normal. The Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery Facebook page is used to communicate to people what is being done and what they can do to help in the recovery. Here is a list of some of the communication strategies for recovering after the Joplin tornado:
- Communicate with other organizations/businesses to bring in relief efforts
- Give the community hope by announcing progress in the community
- Hold community gatherings in which the members can get together
- Make it clear to the community what can be done in preparation for another tornado
In this video, US Senator Claire McCaskill talks about resilience in Joplin.
These same strategies can be applied in any community recovering from any kind of disaster. Preparing for a resilient community is so necessary that places even hold events that help people better understand the importance of a resilient community.
When disaster strikes, communities receive attention and support. Response to these events can provide much needed assistance, but what about when the spotlight leaves the victims? Communities still remain affected, and just because an event fades from the news cycle, does not mean it has not permanently affected a community.
An argument is made that resilience doesn’t come without hiccups.
Lasting as long as several weeks…some distress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event.
The distress of an event leads a community to adapt — a central point in establishing resilience. A community, in order to move on from a disaster, must be able to absorb the shock, redirect the energy in a positive way, and then adapt. It must use the situation in a way that will allow the community to build on what has happened.
Communities that have strong social capital are most likely to adapt. In the case of Joplin, a town that had a closely knit community fabric was able to bond together, respond to the disaster, and quickly find enough help to clear the disaster zone. Joplin had social capital in the sense that the town had no seams tearing it apart before its fabric had to withstand the winds of a terrible tornado.
To access social capital, one of the primary resources of any community, local people must be engaged meaningfully in every step of the mitigation process.
Harnessing social capital bleeds into other areas of resilience in disaster response. With a strong social capital, communities can develop the support needed for everything else: economic resources, organizational networks, interventions, and action plans.