Boston Resilience “Blueprint” Leads With Discussions of Race, Equity

Urban resilience is about much more than preparedness for major shocks, like severe storms and terrorist attacks. It is also about developing solutions for the stresses that tear apart at the fabric of a city on a daily basis. This cross-post from Next City underscores the importance of this holistic view of resilience and shares how the city of Boston, a 100RC member city, is moving forward. 100RC engages in content partnerships with several organizations, and cross-posting does not indicate an endorsement or agreement.
Over 600 Boston residents attended a public discussion hosted by Mayor Marty Walsh Saturday about racism and its connection to resilience. The first of several conversations to come, the gathering was part of the city’s work as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. Walsh also released a report outlining principles that will underpin Boston’s resilience strategy, to be released in early 2017.

“At this moment in history, Boston will take a stand. We’ll answer the call to put the safety, the rights and the equity of everyone in our city at the top of our agenda, every day,” said Walsh in a statement. “If we want to be a strong city, we have to be able to depend on each other, trust each other and understand each other.”

The city’s chief resilience officer, Atyia Martin, was chosen specifically to address the confluence of income inequality, housing affordability, poverty, racism and disaster recovery.

Recognizing that the most disadvantaged are often hit hardest during emergencies, “The Blueprint: A Preview of the Principles and Framework for Boston’s Resilience Strategy” lists four foundation points: recognizing how contemporary and historical racism have shaped the city; creating a collaborative, inclusive government that includes citizens in decision-making; opening up equitable economic opportunities; and increasing transportation connectivity for low-income communities.

The first acknowledges that at times of crisis, deeply rooted traumas and inequities often rise to the surface, much as Hurricane Katrina brought to national attention how disinvested New Orleans’ poor neighborhoods were. Just acknowledging the past doesn’t alleviate the resulting problems, the blueprint recognizes, but it’s a necessary first step to a more equitable future.

“A truly resilient city is one that works to achieve equity: ensuring that important services reach all residents, including the most vulnerable; providing access to opportunity for all and actively fostering cohesive communities,” said Otis Rolley, 100 Resilient Cities regional director for Africa and North America. “Boston is offering its residents, and its nation, a glimpse into what’s possible when challenges are acknowledged openly and honestly.”

The city will continue to hold conversations on racism in neighborhoods through 2017.

Follow The Mayor’s Office of Resilience & Racial Equity at @BOSResilience and www.boston.gov/resilience.