Resilience in Your Community

So we’ve talked about resilience in a national context, about policies and million dollar grants and about resilience on a city level. But what does all of that mean for the average person? For someone just trying to get by, who doesn’t work in sustainability or in disaster relief. How does resilience influence my daily life?

Resilience is important everywhere. It gets a lot of attention in this day and age because of the looming threats of climate change, the increasingly common natural disasters, the civil unrest… But it still can seem like a far away, foreign concept to many of us. It’s not yet something that touches our everyday lives…or is it?

Resilience doesn’t just mean having a plan in case a bridge collapses. It also means knowing who your neighbors are, and being able to check on them when you see something suspicious outside their house. It’s not just about investing in green infrastructure so that our combined sewer system doesn’t have to work as hard. It’s also about figuring out how to stop your basement from flooding. It’s not just about implementing policies that encourage the use of alternative energy sources. It’s about saving money on your heating bill through these cold Pittsburgh winters by putting plastic on your windows.


All of us are resilient in our own ways, every day.


From the block groups that walk their neighborhoods, to the parents who work multiple jobs, to the community organizers who rally their neighbors, to the neighborhoods who come together for block parties. These are all examples of folks coming together and building the resilience that will enable them to thrive in the face of anything that comes their way.


So what can you do to increase the resilience of your community?


For those of you who provided input at the City of Pittsburgh’s deliberative forum, that’s one mechanism for getting involved in resilience building on a larger scale.

In our own blocks, neighborhoods and communities, there are things you can do every day to increase resilience. It doesn’t have to be on a national or even a city scale.

  • Know your neighbors – Friendly faces in the neighborhood have multiple benefits.
  • Call your local representatives – If you have concerns or problems in your neighborhood, you can call and voice your concerns to your local representative. It may not immediately solve the issue, but it will bring awareness. Use this map to figure out which district you live in, and find contact information for your council representative here.
  • Get involved – Join a community garden, a block group, a book club… if there isn’t a group in your neighborhood, start one! One great resource for this is NextDoor – sign up as a resident of your neighborhood and get involved.
  • Have a plan – Talk to your  kids about what to do in case of a fire, and have a plan for extreme weather events. Being prepared is a great way to increase your resilience. Visit the City of Pittsburgh’s website for more information!


More specific actions could include things like:

  • Knowing where the water collects when it rains – are there certain areas that might be prone to flash flooding? The City of Pittsburgh has a floodways map where you can see the low lying, flood vulnerable areas of your neighborhood.
  • Knowing who and where your local public safety officers are – how close is the nearest police station; do you know the firefighters who work in your community? Most of the zones have their own Facebook pages, which you can follow for quick updates.
  • Being aware of alternative transportation systems – if your bus doesn’t come or your car breaks down, is there another way you can get where you need to go? Check out the Port Authority’s trip planner tool to figure out alternate routes.
  • Growing a food garden – a great way to meet your neighbors and increase local food production. Check out Lots to Love, or Grow Pittsburgh’s map of community gardens in Pittsburgh to find one near you!

There are plenty of things you can do to increase your resilience and the resilience of your community, and these are only a few suggestions.

Have more ideas? Post your own resilience-building strategies below!


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