Norris identified 21 definitions of resilience in his article Community Resilience as a Metaphor, Theory, Set of Capacities, and Strategy for Disaster Readiness. I believe that Cole’s definition from 2004 is the best, it defines resilience as…
A community’s capacities, skills, and knowledge that allow it to participate fully in recovery from disasters.
Norris believes that community resilience emerges from economic development, social capital, information and communication, and community competence. This video I found goes into greater detail of what a resilient community looks and sounds like. Communities test their resilience after a disaster and communication is key in trying to get the citizens back into a normal, working groove. Two of the most important things that can get a community back on their feet quickly include having an effective communication system set up already set up and having a communication system that can be trusted.
Having an effective communication infrastructure already set up is key to making sure that a community can bounce back from a disaster quickly. An effective communication structure allows authorities and victims to express important information and relay messages back and forth to each other. With effective communication people can turn a huge disaster into a minor one. It is also important for the community to listen to those with authority so that nobody gets hurt or killed.
Having reliable information is also key in a post disaster community. Without reliable information citizens may not listen to those in charge and those in charge may not have any idea what is going on. In short I believe this quote can summarize this section nicely.
A trusted source of information is the most important resilience asset that any individual or group can have.
There are many different ways to get ahold of people after a disaster, each with their own pros and cons. That is why it is important to tailor your message to different audiences and use a plethora of media types. Everyday revolutions are being made in the way we communicate, it only makes sense that disaster communication evolves as well.
I think we must consider new ways to build a great network for knowledge — not just a broadcast system, but one that employs every means of sending and storing information that the individual can use.- President Johnson
There is an overall usefulness for public media. Silver in New Public Media states that the public trusts public media over the military, the courts, and Congress (Silver, 4). In light of networks like Fox coming under attack for obvious partisan leanings, it’s increasingly important to keep and fund it. Public media outlets can offer what others cannot and that is necessary and relevant for communities. In the age of the Internet, it’s easy to become burdened with news that you can and cannot trust. However, public media can give people quality news because they have to answer to the public, especially if these organizations want funding.
Public media offers quality educational and cultural programming for children. One obvious example is Sesame Street. This program teaches children the basics like numbers, vocabulary, and even foreign languages like Spanish. This is invaluable for parents and can help children in their development. Public media also offers niche interest programming, educational shows for all ages, and other programs that appeal to the interests of undeserved communities (Silver, 7). PBS and NPR are great examples of this. They have multiple outlets to reach people and keep them informed.
Having public media available is necessary for a community to be informed. They are outlets that directly work for the people they serve. They are valuable assets to each community and should be saved and maintained.
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 emerges from four primary sets of adaptive capacities: 1) Economic Development, 2) Social Capital, 3) Information and Communication, and 4) Community Competence. Together these provide a strategy for disaster readiness. The main definition of resilience is a process linking a set of adaptive capacities to a positive trajectory of functioning and adaptation after a disturbance. With an understanding of what resilience entails, we will be able to look at a few specific communication strategies that can increase a community resilience.
Information and communication are essential for community resilience or capacity. They both become vital in emergencies. People need accurate information about what is going on and the dangers that are entailed. They also need to know their options and how to respond correctly and effectively. A public adherence to recommendations cannot be taken for granted, especially when there is any uncertainty about exposure or the risks involved with the recommendation. Also, in emergencies it is important to be able to trust the source of information. This is one of the most important resilience assets that any individual or group can have. With this being the case, local sources of information are typically more trusted and likely to be relied upon than unfamiliar distant sources.
Communication infrastructure is also a valuable communication resource. It is advantageous to have a life-line or hotline system in place beforehand. These communication systems can be ramped up after the disaster to coordinate and deploy volunteers, and later provide a central means for the public to learn about and access services. Also, media can be used to publicize available services and educate the public about typical reactions to disasters along with other tools. The media is a great communication tool for community resilience, because media can get trustworthy information out to the public and inform them about what is going on in their community, as well as what they can do to help.
Members of communities also need to have a shared sense of narrative and understanding about what is going on contributes to a sense of place and connectedness, that in turn affects resilience. “Group formations” became a mechanism after horrific disasters. People in the community are able to write about their own experiences in the aftermath of the disaster, such as September 11th, and people then feel a sense of comfort which leads to resilience. When people understand how others in their community feel and that they can relate to one another, it adds comfort to many.
I personally believe that the availability of public media
is necessary or at least highly important for a community to be properly
informed. The media is a very powerful tool on its own, as a source of important
information it is even more powerful. The media alone generates loads of
information for a wide range of audiences so that a person can usually use the media to find whatever they want or need. Having the access to such forms of diverse information is great to begin with because of all the more information it can generate or at least spread amongst citizens. Using this type of informational pool for the community to keep citizens informed makes sense because
everyone in the community can get information that they personally are interested in. I believe this would create more interest in community information for citizens and could even cause citizens to become more involved in the community because people would be more interested in the information available to them. Of course the media has its pros and cons which should always be considered when doing anything with the media in a community. However I personally believe that the benefits can outweigh the conflicts.