Disaster Preparedness • Economic Recovery • Resilience

Building Resilience in America’s Communities: Observations and Implications of the CRS Pilots Report

This March 2013 report looks at the efforts of the Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) who in 2010 devoted 18 months to coordinating an effort to build a Community Resilience System (CRS) that would provide practical and immediately useable resources and processes to assess, measure, improve and reward community resilience. The Community Resilience Research Initiative (CRSI) was based on over three years of practical research that combined the insights of a cadre of distinguished researchers with practical experience in a number of US communities.

This final report provides the observations and implications of the CRS pilot programs in eight communities. The progress of these communities in organizing their resilience leadership, beginning their resilience programs, and completing the Assessment stage (Stage 2) of the CRS was described in the Phase I report; much of that report is included here in the CRS descriptions and the community experiences and observations. Section I describes the background of leading to the pilot, the purposes of the pilot, and the Community Resilience System (CRS) as developed and tested with the communities. In addition, Section I introduces the 8 pilot communities and the approach used in testing the CRS with the communities.

Section II highlights the community experiences in the pilot and includes a number of important observations regarding communities’ understanding and implementation of community resilience and the Whole Community philosophy.
Section III presents the summary observations and findings from the total pilot experience. The most important findings of the pilot:

  1. The CRS process and tools bring order and knowledge to a very messy problem.
  2. The CRS and its resources are powerful educational tools for a concept that is complex and, at times, intangible.
  3. The structured Assessment tools:     a. Provide significant resilience insights and suggest meaningful actions, even when used without the remaining CRS resources;   b. Reveal significant dependencies and interdependencies that are crucial to rapid and effective recovery of community functions and rhythms;   c. Help build productive community networks and relationships when carried out collaboratively and conscientiously.
  4. The CRS process works more productively as a “partially facilitated” model where some supportive expertise assists communities in applying aspects of resilience to and embedding them within their community circumstances and processes.
  5. The absence of a suite of robust and tangible incentives inhibits the use of the CRS by communities that are already overwhelmed by day-to-day demands.

This section also includes suggestions to define future direction and identifies actions which can continue to support greater resilience at the community level and which can lead to more effective support from FEMA and other DHS programs in achieving the goals of Presidential Policy Directive.

Click here to read the full report.