JoAnn Jordan of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management discusses using disaster preparedness as a catalyst for building community. Disaster resilient communities don’t just happen. They are communities that work together and know each other on a daily basis, so that when a crisis or issue arises, they have the relationships in place to work together. Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP) is a program that harnesses relationships and connectivity and gives step-by-step actions people can take to help each other. The program has been evolving over the past 7 years with several lessons learned: 1) The program needs to be flexible and adaptable to meet the unique characteristics of the neighborhood. 2) The steps need to be simple, easy to remember and easy for neighbors to teach each other. 3) People need tools and reasons to meet neighbors they don’t already know. These lessons learned can be adapted to any program intended to build community resilience. To apply these lessons, program managers must be as adaptable as the program itself, learn to welcome change and celebrate when the program goes in a direction you never intended!
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