17 Oct DR. JUDITH RODIN: HOW MIAMI CAN BE A MORE RESILIENT COMMUNITY
During our 50th anniversary, our signature event series gathers experts to determine how philanthropy can help shape a more equitable, stable and innovative Greater Miami. At our Resiliency summit, Dr. Judith Rodin, president emerita of Rockefeller Foundation and University of Pennsylvania, gave a keynote address, followed by a panel conversation with experts from Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. Speakers also explored recovery strategies for local communities to rebuild stronger and more resilient after Hurricane Irma.
We live in a time when we feel inundated by crises, whether the week brings news of another cyber-attack, international threat or hurricane. But not every disruption has to become a disaster, says Dr. Judith Rodin, author of “The Resilience Dividend.” We can learn to bend, not break, by building a more resilient city.
“In a time as turbulent as ours,” she writes, “we have no choice: we must all work to build greater resilience.” Dr. Rodin shared lessons she’s learned to help Greater Miami rethink its own resilience with a crowd of 150+ at The Miami Foundation’s 50th anniversary Resiliency summit on October 16th at New World Center.
During her 12-year tenure at Rockefeller, Dr. Rodin launched the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) program, of which Greater Miami and the Beaches is a part, to prepare cities around the globe to face a range of 21st century challenges. “The organizations, the businesses, the communities… preparing most effectively for any crisis will rebound faster from every crisis. And they won’t just bounce back quickly – they will jump forward and transform,” Dr. Rodin shared.
Her message of optimism was particularly timely given that the original date of the Foundation’s Resiliency summit was set for the day Hurricane Irma brought Category 1 winds and rain to Miami-Dade County. “Events like Irma are shocks that magnify underlying stresses – inequality, strains on infrastructure, food scarcity – which weaken our ability to respond and bounce back,” Foundation president and CEO Javier Alberto Soto said during his opening remarks. Building resiliency requires multiple strategies, and nonprofits can help.
He went on to announce that The Miami Foundation will invest $300,000 in six nonprofits helping to build a more resilient Miami, part of a $1 million commitment commemorating the Foundation’s 50th anniversary. Each will receive $50,000. They are Catalyst Miami, the CLEO Institute, Dade Heritage Trust, the Everglades Foundation, the Florida International University Sea Level Rise Solutions Center and Miami Waterkeeper.
During the keynote address, Dr. Rodin described the triple-threats facing our cities today: globalization, urbanization and climate change. “Because of these threats,” she warned, “disruption is coming faster and staying longer in every part of our lives.” Yet cities can bounce back more easily from disruptions – especially those that have the characteristics of resiliency, including an awareness of vulnerabilities and strengths, the ability to seek a diverse range of ideas, and capacity to adapt and be nimble as situations develop.
Dr. Rodin offered examples across the world of cities from San Francisco to Singapore, then paused a moment to highlight New Orleans. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she said, the city took advantage of the moment to diversify its economy, re-energize its neighborhoods, reduce crime and unemployment and improve public health. It’s now a case study for building resilience, an example of the philosophy to not just build back, but to “build better.”
Following Dr. Rodin, a panel of experts from Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys on the frontlines of Irma relief and recovery efforts helped put into context broader 100RC solutions and adaptations to ensure the communities remain resilient. The panel included chief resilience officers Jane Gilbert (city of Miami), Jim Murley (Miami-Dade County), Susanne M. Torriente (city of Miami Beach), and Roman Gastesi, county administrator for Monroe County.
They shared strategies for how the Greater Miami region could “rebuild better” after Irma. In all resilience efforts, including the broader community in planning is key, Dr. Rodin offered as her parting thought to the crowd. “This is not what you do to them. This is not what you do for them. This is what you do with them, and with one another. In that way, you build resilience.”
Marika Lynch is a Miami-based writer and communications consultant for foundations and nonprofits.