Community resilience is a term used to describe how a community can “bend, but not break.” In discussing crisis communication, the term is used to describe how a community can recover after a disaster. After any major disaster it is common for people from all over the nation to come into and help the community, look to hurricane Katrina for an example. Community resilience is how the community survives and adapts in order to recover from the disaster. One way to get a sense of understanding strengthening of community resilience is to reference this figure:
…the network of adaptive capacities that yields community resilience is not a singular condition that can be measured or monitored simply. It is a set of sets with many dynamic attributes and transactional linkages and relationships…
This helps to show that community resilience is not quite as simple as it first appears. When looking at strategies to help increase community resilience, there are five that can help:
- The communities must develop economic resources and attend to their areas of greatest social vulnerability. The communities must make sure that everyone is taken care of. Resource distribution will be key, and it is often those who need help the most that cannot get it.
- Local people must be a part of the mitigation process. This ties into the fact that every community is unique. Because of this, people from the community must recognize their areas of greatest vulnerability and plan accordingly.
- Pre-existing organizational networks and relationships are key to achieving the quickest response to any disaster. Different organizations must understand and trust each other, which is why networks must be set up in advance.
- Social support is very important. The ability of community members to help each other simply by providing emotional support can help knit the community together to form a cohesive unit.
- Finally, communities must always have some type of plan, even if that includes not having a plan. They must be flexible enough to adapt to any situation, but in order to do this the other four strategies must be present. By having a plan for not having a plan, community resilience after a disaster can be greatly strengthened.
Of course there are many other strategies that can be used to increase community resilience. Some of these are strategies we have discussed regarding a variety of different crisis communication formats, such as
- Keep the message short, simple, and concise.
- The message must be delivered from a trusted source.
- Repeat the message often using different mediums so that it is thoroughly communicated.
As Norris and company make clear, community resilience is not only extremely important in a time of crisis, but also quite complicated. Communities must work together in a variety of ways in order to make sure they will be able to bounce back when disaster strikes. One thing we have learned about crisis communication is that while a crisis should always be expected, positive communication during a crisis can help save lives, stop further threats, and help a community bounce back from the brink of destruction.
According to Norris and our online reading, an overall disaster readiness strategy is created through the development of four “primary sets of adaptive capacities”. These capacities include, “Economic Development, Social Capital, Information and Communication, and Community Competence.” Now to me, this all looks like a bunch of mumbo jumbo so before we get into the communication techniques aspect of these capacities and how they might be used to create community resilience let’s first define what community resilience is. According to Norris,
“Community resilience is a process linking a network of adaptive capacities (resources with dynamic attributes) to adaptation after a disturbance or diversity.”
OR according to Norris, other individuals have their own way of defining community resilience as well. He references:
My favorite way to define community resilience comes from the document (also pictured in Norris’ work) by Egeland, 1993. They define it as,
“The capacity for successful adaptation, positive functioning, or competence…despite high-risk status, chronic stress, or following prolonged or severe trauma.”
So now with this basic understanding of making a positive recovery from a tragedy we can move on to what communication strategies might be used in doing so. Norris touches on aspects of communication that we have discussed in class in terms of getting a message across. He addresses the importance of correctly relaying correct information, using a trustworthy messenger who reflects the values of the community, and how to relay the information. Norris references September 11, 2001 in identifying strategies for communication. He writes,
“Communication infrastructure is also a valuable resource. On the basis of their experiences in New York City after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Draper et al. (2006) maintained that it is advantageous for a life-line (or hotline) system to be in place beforehand. These communication systems can be ramped up after the disaster to coordinate and deploy volunteers, and later they provide a central means for the pubic to learn about and access services (see also Norris et al. 2006). Media also can be engaged to publicize available services and educate the public about typical reactions to disaster (e.g., Gist and Stolz 1982; Norris et al. 2006).”
Norris calls attention to the common crisis communication theme of planning beforehand. This helps create order when everything appears to be out of place. Additionally, he references the media as a communication strategy. What better and faster of a way to disperse information than through the media. In class we have discussed television and radio usage but most importantly the use of social media as a communication strategy. Facebook and Twitter are phenomenal means to get a message to the public, and fast.
Now how do all of these add to community resilience? The answer is simple. Through the planning ahead communication strategies not only is restoration much easier to achieve but so is dictating how to restore, what resources are needed, and where to locate them. The strategy of media and more importantly social media enhances these objectives. Additionally, social media can serve as a network to establish advocates in the community, a mean for volunteers to be in the loop, and for those affected by the disaster to find comfort and hope. It is through these strategies that community resilience is able to and can be fully achieved.
Community Resilience refers to the adaptation that the population undergoes following a disaster.
There are many important communication strategies that need to be implemented in order to reach this sense of resiliency:
- One of the most important concepts of communicating to stakeholders during and after a disaster is to make sure that they are going to trust and listen to the source of information. It has been found that audiences are more likely to listen to a familiar source. Therefore, sometime it is better to send out information through a local source rather than and unknown national source.
- It is also important to keep messages short, simple, and easy to remember. Detailed plans are often less effective then short, direct ones.
- Community members need to understand their risks in order to collectively and flexibly get through and overcome disasters. Along with this, make sure members of the community are involved and understand each step of the adaptation.
- Make sure that those directly affected by the disaster have some sort of social support system directly after the disaster as well as in the months and even years to come. Many people may suffer from PTSD and will need this support to adapt to the “new normal.”
- Give members of the community a chance to help out and have a say in certain decisions. This empowerment will help members work together for the common good of the community and feel that they have a part in the adaptation.
- Allow members of the community to share their stories. This is a way for community members to relate to one another and understand that they are not alone. Members can reflect on what has happened and look forward to what is to come. An interesting case study on this specific strategy is September 11th. Many people have shared their stories over the years and now 10 years later there is a sense of resiliency and oneness.
- Finally, it is important to be prepared for uncertainty. You cannot have a plan for everything and therefore should have a plan to not have a plan.
Disasters happen all the time and it is important for communities to learn how to work together and communicate with one another in order to adapt to changes and learn to cope with the “new normal.”
In the article written by Norris et. al, the idea of resilience is discussed and how that resilience can be used in a community after a disaster strikes. The article defines resilience many ways, but they all share a common theme and that is the ability to overcome something. This is especially true when talking about communities. Imagine the tornado that hit Joplin hit Columbia instead. Columbia is a community of its own. If a tornado of great destruction were to hit Columbia, the community would come together to bring the city back to its feet again. In other words, Columbia would demonstrate community resilience.
A quote from the article that really stuck out to me is as follows:
[Community resilience is] the ability of individuals and communities to deal with a state of continuous, long term stress; the ability to find unknown inner strengths and resources in order to cope effectively; the measure of adaptation and flexibility (Norris et. al).
I thought this was interesting because it’s talking about what the community needs to do as a whole after a disaster. Obviously there are going to be long term effects when trying to plow through the after math of a disaster. It’s up to the community to come together as one to take care of the community they call home.
Below is a video of Jim McGowan talking about how he sees resilience within communities.
From this video, we can take out some strategies towards having a resilient community. People need to understand:
- What they need to do when a disaster strikes
- Who to call during the disaster
- And what to expect during the aftermath of the disaster
Obviously there are many more ways for a community to strengthen their resilience, but these seem to be the main point of it all. I think a major way to strengthen a community’s resilience towards a disaster is to be in constant communication with one another. Communication is key, especially during a crisis. Without a community communicating with one another during a crisis, buildings may be destroyed and, at worst, innocent lives may be lost. Because of this, it’s almost dumb of communities to not practice resilience during a crisis.
Thomas Edison said, “Failure is the mother of success.” I think this wisdom may apply to community resilience strategies after disaster. I believe that affective resilience strategies are like the safest, strongest and fastest road that connect from failure to success. As often times, failing is much more important than success, I think the resilience process from the disaster would be more important than actual outcome of recovery.
There are three key components of community resilience strategies
• Establishing economic/human resources to deal with disaster.
• Building a strong social trust within communities.
• Creating a compelling narratives and channeling them through SNS during the disaster period.
First and foremost, establishing economic/human resources before actual disaster would be the primary components of community resilience.
Norris pointed out in his paper that community should have enough (Robustness), substitutable (redundancy), and accessible (rapidity) resources to respond to disaster. Without them, communities transient dysfunction period last and it could increase community’s vulnerability.
Second, community should have strong social trust among community members and even with government to respond effectively during the crisis. Social trust may sound very ‘vague’ but it’s also self-explanatory.
What’s social trust then?
• If Members of community trust, support each other, and have attachment on their own community, then they have strong social trust.
• If members of community trust their government, and in return, government keep its transparency, then they also have social trust. Without it, it reduce community competence to react the disaster.
Real examples: In 2005, the hurricane Katrina lasted for about two weeks, but the actual recovery process are still on-going because of very low level of trust between people and government.
See what happen, if people frustrated with their government after the crisis.
Third, creating a compelling narratives is very important way to increase the speed of resilience process. Social Networking Site is the perfect tool to spread out messages very rapidly, and SNS helps to optimize the use of strong narratives reaching to the people.
• Recent Turkey earthquake, Turkish Journalist Ahmet Tezcan use catch phrase “My home is your home” to his 22,000 Twitter followers that those willing to offer accommodation to quake victims could send him an email. It creates a lot of buzz during the recovery process in Turkey.
• Recent Turkey earthquake, one person who was rescued write a text message to her emergency team members that “One day if you fall, I’ll pick you up too” This message and narrative set up a vibrate in Turkish society, and I think it help to increase social trust at that time.
Of course, resilience process would be much more complicated than these three steps. Nonetheless, these three steps would be the key factors when community recovering from the disasters.
In today’s world we have a lot of tragedies that happen and destroy or community’s, but in order for a community to bounce back it has to have a number of strategies and plans to do so. Resilience means to adapt to change or able to bounce back from a tragic event. For example, if they are two communities that have both had a dramatizing event the community with the best resilience will recovery the best in the shortest period of time.http://www.hsaj.org/?fullarticle=6.3.6
A community is a group of people who share a common physical environment, resources, and services, as well as risks and threats.
What makes a community recover from a disturbing event is a community that a community to absorb a disturbance while retaining its essential functions.
Also this four stages should be take into consideration when a community is going over what they should cover in case of an emergency: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Communication is the main key to a community surviving, because if there is no communication a community will have a devastating event and will struggle to get back on their feet and start a new life. Here is an image that holds all the keys for a community to use in order to recover.