Louisville has begun the first steps to evaluating the city’s major challenges, in preparation for hiring an official to focus solely on resilience.
“Resilience” is the amorphous quality that helps a city prepare for and bounce back after a sudden or protracted disaster.
“When we discuss urban resilience, we’re talking not just in terms of environmental resilience, but we’re talking about the economy, we’re talking about social well-being, social cohesion,” said Otis Rolley of 100 Resilient Cities in an interview last week. “The shock of flood or earthquake is as damaging to a city in many ways as a riot or the destruction of a major industry within a particular municipality.”
Louisville was chosen for the last cohort of the initiative — which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation — last year. The group held a workshop in town Tuesday to begin evaluating Louisville’s strengths and weaknesses. From these conversations, the group will craft a resilience strategy, and help the city fund a chief resilience officer position for two years.
In remarks to the some-200 stakeholders who gathered at the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said economically, the city is doing well.
“But we have to make sure that prosperity spreads throughout the city, in every zip code and that the lives of our people in our communities are enhanced. And that as a city, we’re built and prepared for a future, even a future whose challenges and opportunities are beyond what we can see today,” he said. “And boy, these last 11 days in our country have certainly been tumultuous and are presenting challenges to us that we really haven’t seen before. We need to be resilient not just to get through those but to make our city and our country a more resilient and prosperous place for everybody.”
Part of Tuesday’s task is to determine what Louisville’s biggest challenges are. Listen to the audio in the player above. Here’s a small sampling of responses:
“I would say the economic inequality is one of the biggest challenges Louisville faces.” –Harvetta Ray, Family Scholar House.
“I think preparedness for really severe environmental disasters is an area in which Louisville is lagging.”
–Wallace McMullen, Greater Louisville Sierra Club
“I think Louisville’s biggest challenge is making sure there’s respect for everyone. So no matter what the city’s facing, we respect each other enough to get the job accomplished.”
–Autumn Neagle, 15th District PTA
“How to just have smart growth by protecting the health and prosperity and the environment at the same time.”
–Angela Futter, Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability
“I think the biggest challenge from my vantage point is the economic divisions between one side of town and the other. As well as an educational system that doesn’t serve all the needs of all the students.”
–Mike Neagle, Business Owner
“I think we have a huge equity challenge that has consistently positioned people on the bleeding edge of survival on the outside.”
–Daryle Unseld, Metro United Way