The National League of Cities (NLC) and the Wells Fargo Foundation recently announced that the City of Portland was selected to participate in the Leadership in Community Resilience Program (LCRP). Initially announced in March 2016, the LCRP program will help Portland address the challenges and opportunities associated with local climate adaptation and mitigation. National experts will provide technical assistance and professional development training to help create a holistic, resilience proactive framework that reduces risk, improves services, adapts to changing conditions and empowers citizens.
Over the next year and a half, the Leadership in Community Resilience program will help convene local officials, city staff and community partners in cities to share ideas and best practices that advance local resilience efforts in Portland and beyond. NLC will provide Portland with $10,000 in direct financial support, as well as technical assistance and professional development opportunities. Funding is provided with support from the Wells Fargo Foundation.
"Rising sea levels have already begun to affect parts of the City. We saw this very dramatically in September, 2015 when heavy rains coincided with a high tide. Many streets in Bayside flooded, causing damage to dozens of vehicles, disrupting travel, and interfering with business activities. This type of event will become more common as we moved toward mid-century and beyond. It is important that City officials and community members work together to plan for this wetter future," noted Troy Moon, the City's Sustainability Coordinator. He added, "This grant from the National League of Cities will help us do just that."
On December 14, the City will host a public forum featuring leading climate scientist Dr. Cameron Wake from the University of New Hampshire who will discuss the latest projections regarding sea level rise. He will be joined by Wayne Feiden, Planning and Sustainability Director for the Town of Northampton, MA. Mr. Feiden specializes in planning for climate resilient communities and has led teams of design professionals who have assisted a number of coastal cities including Bath, ME, Providence, RI, and Provincetown, MA, with climate resiliency plans. During the meeting, the City will invite local design professionals to imagine what a resilient Bayside might look like. Submitted drawings will help spur dialogue at future meetings where community members will discuss their vision of a resilient community. The meeting will take place at Mayo Street Arts at 6 PM.
Nine other cities are participating in the pilot program: Annapolis, Maryland; Des Moines, Iowa; Providence, Rhode Island; Riverside, California; San Antonio; Saint Paul, Minnesota; South Bend, Indiana; Tempe, Arizona; and West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Cities are leading the nation’s efforts to build resilient communities that will preserve and improve quality of life for generations to come,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities (NLC). "We are excited to work with city leaders to share their best practices and tactics for creating and implementing strong resilience frameworks. With the effects of climate change and extreme weather already being felt, 21st century cities must make resilience a central part of their planning and growth.”
“Wells Fargo created the Leadership in Community Resilience Program to help participating cities plan for, adjust to and ultimately thrive in changing climate conditions,” said Mary Wenzel, senior vice president and head of environmental affairs at Wells Fargo. “This focus on resiliency is part of Wells Fargo’s multipronged approach to reducing the impacts of climate change on our customers, team members and communities.”
In addition to providing direct assistance to Portland, the program will generate new insights related to the challenges and opportunities associated with local resilience initiatives. In the coming years, lessons learned through this process will be shared with cities throughout the U.S. looking to build more resilient communities.
"No one knows exactly how climate change will affect cities — the effects will be different everywhere," said Cooper Martin, program director for the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities (NLC). "But there are steps we must take today that will strengthen our neighborhoods and reduce the most serious risks for our children and for future generations. We’re proud to help these cities push forward.”
Portland has already begun identifying challenges in its resilience program that will be strengthened over the next year and a half. The pilot program officially kicked off last week with its first workshop in Tempe, Arizona.