Stephen M. Katz | The Virginian-Pilot

Christine Morris, Chief Resilience Officer for Norfolk, talks about the city's strategy to deal with sea-level rise, create economic opportunity and fight poverty Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015.

Norfolk, pushed by sea-level rise, re-thinking the future of the city

The following is an excerpt from a piece that originally appeared in The Virginian-Pilot on June 30, 2014. It was wirtten by Dave Mayfield. Click the link to read the full piece.

Norfolk has earned a dreary distinction of late. It's become one of the top destinations around the world for journalists seeking a poster-child city for the perils of sea level rise.

But city leaders Wednesday verged on embracing that notoriety with the unveiling of a strategy to tackle the problem harder.

One goal of the plan: Build an entire new industry around engineers and other experts who figure out ways to adapt to rising seas right here and then export that expertise worldwide.

That idea is among a slew of initiatives outlined in what's being called Norfolk's "resilience strategy." The 60-page document was published Wednesday on the city's website and outlined at the Slover Library downtown at an event that drew some 100 business and community leaders and city officials.

A Rockefeller Foundation program paid for the effort. Norfolk is one of what eventually will be 100 cities worldwide in a Rockefeller initiative to help communities develop strategies for overcoming major problems. It's the third, behind New Orleans and New York, to put its strategy into a document.

Nearly two years' worth of workshops, surveys and one-on-one conversations with neighborhood leaders and other movers and shakers helped shape the Norfolk plan, into which the Rockefeller program estimates it has invested $1.7 million.

In Norfolk's case, sea level rise is problem No. 1. But Christine Morris, the city's chief resilience officer, said the strategy goes well beyond that issue: "There's a huge opportunity to rethink the future of Norfolk."

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