In partnership with Louisiana Sea Grant and the Kresge foundation, the Coastal Sustainability Studio recently hosted the first Louisiana Community Resilience Institute on April 14-15, 2016 at LSU. The Institute brought together six mayors from Louisiana, and six nationally-renowned planning, urban design, coastal science, hazard mitigation, development, and engineering professionals. The goal of the one-and-a-half day workshop was to offer mayors facing coastal problems within their communities a better understanding of the role of planning, design and hazard mitigation to enhance resilience within their respective communities.
Prior to the workshop, CSS research faculty member Dr. Traci Birch met with each mayor onsite to assist with the development of a case study that represented a significant challenge within each community. CSS staff and students also developed a resource manual for the mayors, containing researched information and infographics related to planning and resilience relevant to each community.
The Institute was structured in a way to maximize interaction, networking, brainstorming, and discussion among the mayors, subject matter experts, and other key contacts. During the workshop each mayor presented a particular challenge their community currently faces, followed by a group discussion to generate creative strategies to address these challenges and improve community development, resilience, and quality-of-life.
Presentations from a panel of invited experts during the workshop introduced participating mayors to tools, technologies, and best practices. The panel included some of the nation’s top experts in applied ecology, land conservation, sustainable design, green real estate development, disaster recovery, pre-disaster planning and mitigation, economic development, urban resilience and sustainable infrastructure planning, and coastal management.
In addition to the workshop, a reception hosted at the LSU President’s House provided the mayors with the opportunity to network with relevant contacts in state and federal government, coastal research and community outreach, and non-profit organizations.
By participating in the LA Community Resiliency Institute, the six mayors gained knowledge that will allow them to:
1) better understand the community design and planning process
2) have increased confidence in their ability to tackle complex issues, further strengthened by a support network of peer leaders, and
3) a repertoire of ideas and perhaps even well-defined solutions tailored specifically to their community’s challenges.
The CSS and participating subject matter experts plan to continue working with the mayors to coordinate strategic partnerships, provide additional research through project support or design studios, and/or seek financial support through grants funding or gifts.