Assignments Building Adaptive Capacity

We currently live and work from day to day assuming that the climate will remain within a certain set of experienced conditions. One way that communities survive and adapt to the changing conditions around us is to have flexible and responsive social and physical structures. This assignment asks you to develop a plan for increasing the local adaptive capacity (broadly interpreted) that you experience in your everyday life, within your own community. The first step in bringing about change is imagining it. It is that step that we are trying to address with this assignment.

How to proceed:

  1. First, think broadly about the adaptation strategies and the steps needed for an adaptation plan. Then watch the following video and think about the climate related aspects of where you live:
  1. Then describe and evaluate some of the social and economic aspects of your community. Do people in your community have the social connections to help one another during a period of extreme weather? (such as flooding or a heat wave). Secondly, describe the physical aspects of your neighborhood. Draw a roughly approximate map of the neighborhood (or an area near where you live that you are familiar with that could be susceptible to flooding), include the area where the area where water would be likely to go if a flood occurred. Your map can be a hand-drawn sketch, a photocopy of a close-up paper map, a close-up map available from the web (e.g., from Google maps or similar mapping service), or any other source. You will not be graded in map making skills but will be evaluated on how well you can illustrate a plan. The map should be at least ½ page and no more than 1 page in size.
  2. Assessment: If the community was to experience a significant flood, where would the water go? Outline this area on the map. Who would be the people affected? Explain the possible impacts to day to day living if the flood lasted a month. What might help your community adapt to prolonged flood conditions or other extreme weather?
  3. Imagine how a community response plan to this flood might work. Think creatively about how to work within the neighborhood conditions you have described and how the community could work on addressing a large flood. Then propose how you would work to raise awareness, and build a community network could be developed to respond to these types of events. Provide your ideas on both how to build a community fostered response and what changes to local infrastructure might help to alleviate local flood risks. Remember that this plan is to help the entire community to come together and adapt as best as possible, in an inclusive, deliberative process.
  4. In at least 1200 words (to 1800 max) How, specifically, what will be involved and what are the steps in your proposed plan? How would you bring the community (stakeholders) together to work on the plan and develop a more cohesive community within the prospect of many possible climate extremes (flooding being just one example)? How will it provide a comprehensive community response, and would changes to infrastructure or land use be needed lower your flood risk? What would be the “co-benefits” to the community? Show the proposed change on your map (or make a second map using your first map as the template) that effectively shows how you would make the area less susceptible to flooding. Your map should depict some element of the infrastructure, physical or not, as it currently exists (e.g., roads, housing unit locations, greenspace, development patterns, sidewalks, public transport, school locations, school transportation plans, food production, utilities, etc.). You will NOT be graded on your technical expertise as a mapmaker—but rather on how effectively the map conveys the features that are relevant to addressing floods in your adaptation plan. You will need a legend, and probably some text on the map.

The assignment will be graded on content (does it reflect a good understanding of adaptation planning stages and strategies from the reading assignments and videos, and sound critical thinking about ways to achieve them?) and the effectiveness with which the content is communicated.

Note: The point of this exercise is to generate ideas without constraining ourselves to inside-the-box thinking. However, please do not be completely unrealistic in your plans, and remember that all of the people in the community matter, including those with different interests. Assume only currently existing technologies are available.

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