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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Resilience Convergence

Resilience Map designed by Eugene Park; photo credit Karl Engebretson

Resilience Convergence was a one-day event held on November 22nd 2014 at the University of Minnesota bringing resilience experts together in a program to learn about the resiliency-focused work going on in Minnesota and explore connections of expertise through interactive exercises, with the aim to develop a more connected and innovative resilience research and education at the University of Minnesota.

What is Resilience? Resilience Convergence drew on the definition proposed by the Rockefeller Foundation: Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of stress and shocks, and even transform when conditions require it.

Participants were invited pre-workshop to offer content (focus of resilience work, geographic scales of work, disruptions and time scales of the work) that was included in a Resilience Map designed by Eugene Park, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design from the College of Design, Unveiled at the event, the Map showed each participant and expert's work factored in the growing body of resilience work. The Map is intended to become an important tool to align collective efforts at the University of Minnesota around resilience.

Richard Graves speaks at the Resilience Convergence conference; photo credit Karl Engebretson

Sponsored by the Office of Vice President of Research from the College of Design, welcome remarks were made by VP of Research Brian Herman, Dean Tom Fisher and the event was facilitated by Richard Graves, Director of the Center for Sustainable Building Research.

The first part of the event was a series of Fish Bowl Conversations framed under the overaching question of: How do you define the challenge of resilience?

#1: What does it mean in your work to create "rapid rebound" or the capacity to re-establish function, re-organize and avoid long term disruptions? (Participants: Fred Rose, Ann Masten, Rolf Weberg)

#2: How do communities create flexibility or the ability to change, evolve, and adapt to alternative strategies in the face of disaster? (Participants: Elizabeth Wilson, Lacy Shelby, Patrick Nunnally)

#3: What types of failures ripple across a system? How do organizations create feedback loops that sense, provide foresight and allow for new solutions to design resilient systems? (Participants: Tom Fisher, Patrick Hamilton, Dr. Carissa Schively-Slotterback)

This was followed by Speed dating and a Splendid Table event: What assets do we have in our community to build resilience? How do you combine diverse perspectives to create resilience projects? (facilitated by Richard Graves, Tom Fisher, Renee Cheng and Maura Donovan)

Attendees paired up with other persons who shared their area of focus for resilience to discuss similarities and differences with their work, and assets in the community and at the university, types of research, classes and projects to build community resilience.

Resilience Map designed by Eugene Park; photo credit Karl Engebretson

The question of resilience has come to the fore in many circles, with a range of interpretations from environmental resilience to resiliency in mental health. When Structures for Inclusion, the Public Interest Design conference declares a theme of 'Resilience of Mind, Body, and Spirit' for its 2015 meeting on April 11 - 12 in Detroit, it must mean that Resilience and PID are intertwined and here to stay. What are your thoughts on the intersection of PID and resilience? Tweet @UMN_PID with your answer!

Written by Virajita Singh, a Sr. Research Fellow and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the College of Design, University of Minnesota

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