What is resilience and why are we hearing so much about it? There are many definitions and factors for resilience related to community and the economy. It is the idea that communities and businesses can recover and improve after a sudden threat or shock. We start our resilience work knowing that in NH, our communities have been practicing resilience. The challenges might have been recovering from a snowstorm, flooding, or loss of industry. In all cases, communities have come together to address the challenge and secure a better future. We will apply these lessons, learn new factors of resilience and work with community leaders and small businesses to develop resilience plans to address the impacts of the pandemic.
In the past few years, new books about localism and rebuilding communities (Our Towns by James and Deborah Fallows, What I Found in a Thousand Towns by Dar Williams and The New Localism by Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak) have shared local efforts at community revitalization. These authors share stories and case studies to demonstrate that change can and is designed and led locally. It is our experience in Extension that this is not new, that this is a New Hampshire tradition - to address our own community challenges with information, community engagement and leadership.
I believe that localism and resilience are related in our cities and towns. Both give communities the experience and strength to understand what has happened and not only shape a response but carry out that response with a focus on rebounding to something much better. Our cities and towns have been practicing resilience and localism and are poised to address the effects of the pandemic.
At Extension we are focusing on researching community resilience and providing a new Resiliency Academy focused on business and community resilience:
Community Resilience Research: We will be studying communities across the state to determine the impacts of COVID-19 and identify characteristics of resilient communities and economies. We invite you to share your experiences by taking this brief survey.
Resiliency Academy: In partnership with NH Small Business Development Center, we are offering Resiliency Academy. Based on our successful model of place-based community learning, the new academy will focus on developing small business and community resilience plans which will aid in economic recovery and future planning. NH SBDC’s recent survey of businesses revealed only 19% of respondents had a resilience plan in place prior to COVID-19, and moving forward, 73% of respondents reported having a resilience plan is important for the future of their business. Read the survey report here. We are kicking off Resiliency Academy with a free webinar on October 21st and October 27th and we plan to offer trainings across the state in spring 2021.