Update: For more information on the NEN’s visit to Christchurch please visit this features homepage – Christchurch 2012
Message from the director:
On Friday, April 27th, I left for a trip to New Zealand after being invited to present at the New Zealand Planning Institute’s National Conference. In addition to attending the conference, I will also be visiting cities with communities that are either recovering from a large earthquake or preparing to face one.
My first stop will be the Nation’s capital, Wellington, where I will be meeting with local emergency managers who are charged to support communities as they prepare for earthquakes through their Civil Defense program. I will also be running the brand new Resilientville exercise with local leaders to offer them an interactive way to learn about the Whole Community Approach we are implementing here in San Francisco.
After Wellington, I will be presenting at the New Zealand Planning Institute’s Conference in Blenheim. The focus of the presentation will be how the NEN’s Empowered Communities Program helps communities achieve the capacity to actively steward their community on issues such as land use and economic recovery.
Finally, I will spend five days meeting with community leaders in the City of Christchurch.
In February of last year, the City of Christchurch New Zealand was struck by the second of what has become a series of thousands of earthquakes of varying magnitudes. The impact has been devastating. Within a month of the earthquake, a delegation of elected officials and civic leaders accepted Mayor Lee’s offer of support by coming to San Francisco and spending a week learning about the strategies that we implemented to recover from the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989, as well as capture new strategies we are using so that we can be better prepared to respond, and recover, from future seismic activities.
In addition to connecting with organizations such as the Department of Emergency Management and SPUR, they also received a presentation on the NEN’s Empowered Communities Program (ECP). They showed keen interest in the broad benefits of the ECP because they were committed to making sure the that the neighborhoods of Christchurch, many of which have been declared Red Zones and may never be rebuilt, were not only actively involved in the post earthquake recovery planning of the city, but also would be better prepared for any future challenge that may come their way.
My visit will extend this important conversation and advance the exciting opportunity for our two earthquake prone communities to share ideas and best practices.
While in Christchurch, I am scheduled to meet with residents, small business owners, members of the faith based and academic community, elected officials, representatives from the Red Cross’ Recovery team and organizations that have been created to offer people a voice in the recovery of their community.
Over the next two weeks, I will be sharing updates on my findings and, upon my return, will craft a series of social media pieces to share with the San Francisco community the lessons learned in our fellow neighborhoods in New Zealand.