Building resilience in Maricopa County communities

Two women sitting on mountainside at sunsetAll communities experience stresses. They can be sudden shocks (floods, earthquakes) or they can be long-term, constant stresses. In each instance, how well the community survives the stress or shock — through proactive planning, nimble actions and openness to evolution — and how quickly it can bounce back is a measure of its resilience. Now, with a grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Arizona State University scientists have begun a new initiative that aims to make the people and the communities of Maricopa County more resilient so that when a shock hits, they can survive and get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible. Piper Trust awarded $15 million to launch the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) initiative. KER will work to build community resilience by partnering with and studying the community up close and finding the gaps that exist in services. By embedding in the communities of Maricopa County and tapping the expertise of research scientists, citizen scientists, community members and partner organizations, KER is designed to become a community resource destined to collectively address pressing issues and needs, fostering positive change and building resilience. “There really has never been anything like this for social systems,” said sustainability scientist Elizabeth Wentz, the principal investigator of KER and dean of social sciences in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It is geared toward learning about people and their lives and turning that information into something that can be used by municipalities, NGOs and other agencies to improve the lives of the people who are living here.” Read the full story on ASU Now.