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The Impact of Resilient Design Part 2: Dignify Community


Rendering of the Community center in Thousand Oaks, CA
Conejo Community Park and Center by AGD

Developed over the past decade, one of the greatest tools to analyze resilience is the work of the 100 Resilient Cities Network (100 RC), which was seeded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 RC program defines urban resilience as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and prosper despite the challenges they experience. As part of the 100 RC Network program, the City of Colima, Mexico published a divine sentiment in their Resilience Strategy report to encapsulate their vision:


Colima is a city that builds its quality of life through innovation and the participation of its citizens. It is open to the world, resilient, and prepared to face threats, thrive inclusively, develop sustainably, and grow in a close, connected, and cohesive manner.

Cathedral in Colima, Mexico
Colima Cathedral and main square – Source: Angela N Perryman / shutterstock.com

The city of Colima seems to redefine support through their resilient efforts to grow collectively as a community. Typically, we think of support in issues of urbanity as something that is provided through programs or financial assistance or organizations. Supportive programs do not always have to look like nonprofits that are organized to help provide a service to those in need. A support network can also look like a network composed of your neighbors, or even design that supports community-building and community.


ResilientDesign.org has nine principles for resilient design. Of these nine principles, the one that stands out the most to me is, “strong, culturally diverse communities in which people know, respect, and care for each other will fare better during times of stress or disturbance”. We have witnessed firsthand the power of community centric design in small towns. The City of Guadalupe, California has invested its time and resources to bring back to life multiple buildings and parkland/open spaces. These look like community centers, outdoor playgrounds, growing grounds for food, outdoor fitness areas, amphitheaters and more. In all of these, we see the idea of emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness.

Rendering of Le Roy Park and community center in Guadalupe, CA
Rendering of Le Roy Park and community center in Guadalupe, CA

When a city decides to care for each other by prioritizing the wellness of its residents, it helps to foster respect and dignity. A dignified community takes care of the people, buildings, and land that it calls its own. As John Cary, one of my greatest inspirations in the social architecture movement, said in his TED talk about architecture, “design has a unique ability to dignify. It can make people feel valued, respected, honored, and seen”. Therefore, investing in community facilities only helps to perpetuate respect and dignity within the community because they feel cared for. As a result, the community can help to invest in other social and economic efforts to help them grow.


Written by Andrew Goodwin



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