I had coffee the other morning with an old friend, a fellow disability advocate who has worked in the mental health field for years as a psychiatrist. We were talking about how challenging it is to promote macro change, and especially attitudinal change in the greater community towards disability. He then asked me if I was familiar with the "Resilient Cities" movement and if we want to make more of a macro impact, we should find ways to align here.
The Resilient Cities movement was initiated in 2013 by the Rockefeller Foundation with a worldwide goal of aligning forward thinking cities to broaden their agenda. Over the next 4 years they invited cities to apply for funding to initiate an agenda for inclusion, openness, and acceptance. In that time, 100 cities around the world were selected and began to meet, share, and compare ways to be more robust and inclusive. Check out their website to see if your city is included - www.100resilientcities.org.
Of these 100, 22 are from the USA and my hometown of Pittsburgh is in the mix (along with Atlanta, Boston, Berkeley, Boulder, Chicago, Dallas, El Paso, Miami, Honolulu, LA, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, NYC, Norfolk, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Tulsa, Washington, DC). This means that these cities have key officials identified to promote resiliency in that community.
My friend Ken told me that many of these cities are focusing attention on infrastructure issues that look at things like water, roads, bridges, architecture, sewers, and the like. Other cities, most notably Glasgow Scotland, has focused attention on people and relationships. These cities feel that resilience is really about people and how they relate to address the needs of people in the city.
This relationship oriented agenda in resilience continues to show the power of social capital and how, at the end of the day, inclusion of any devalued or marginalized group, comes down to relationships between and among people. In my work as an advocate, it suggests that the sooner we can promote relationships for folks we support, the sooner we can be assured that disability issues become a part of resiliency.
So if you are an advocate in any one of the aforementioned cities (for myCanadian and Australian friends, know that Toronto and Sydney are on the list), dig deeper and see how you, and the folks you serve, can become part of the resiliency conversation. This is the stuff that will change a community.