Centre for Applied Research on Business and Economics

Building a Better Ark: The Potential of Engaging Cultural Thought Leaders and Addressing Power Differential in Authentic, Community-Driven Resilience Planning

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Climate change engagement is often conducted on a jurisdictional scale, and stakeholder engagement typically brings representatives from all constituencies around a common table. Yet, individual behavior is largely influenced by norms and leaders within their cultural groups, and the “Noah’s Ark” style of stakeholder engagement largely ignores historical differences of power among participants.

Co-creating safe cultural spaces with leaders within cultural communities catalyzes authentic conversation tailored to the ways in which the community talks about its own issues and creates engagement strategies, which increase climate resilience, while elevating voices of trusted sources of information.Two projects in the San Francisco North Bay Region were built on prior research on the role of cultural identity, belonging, and engagement in building resilient regions.

“Elevating Latino Voices” focused on the 25% of Sonoma County residents who self-identify as Latinx, a group over-impacted by natural disasters yet underrepresented in political and economic power. As a direct result of the investigation, targeted, culturally relevant communication strategies and programs were identified, including “Promotores Verde.”

Drawing from a cultural tradition of recruiting and training cohorts of young adults from within communities on specific health issues, who, in turn, become resources on the issues to their communities, “Promotores Verde” is increasing authentic engagement of the Latinx community in climate change, building leadership capacity and empowering a new generation of climate leaders.

“Rising Waters” engaged principles of biophilia to bridge understanding between experts on homelessness and water quality to build empathy and address issues at their nexus.

Reference Ford, J. M. (2021). Building a Better Ark: The Potential of Engaging Cultural Thought Leaders and Addressing Power Differential in Authentic, Community-Driven Resilience Planning. In R. C. Brears (Ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Climate Resilient Societies (pp. 1-19). (Springer Reference Earth & Environm. Science Reference Module Physical and Materials Science). Palgrave Macmillan . https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32811-5_118-1

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Jan 2021

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