Landscapes of Resilience: Joplin, MO Article Archive

Community Resilience After Natural Disasters


In May 2011 Joplin, Missouri, was struck by an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York City. While both were natural catastrophes, though the community stressors and the timescales of each were distinct. Joplin was a rapid, single-day event, while Hurricane Sandy left Queens and much of the Atlantic coast not only broken and flooded, but also worried about the long-term vulnerability of the coastal communities.

The integrated team of designers, researchers, and community groups is exploring how nearby nature can contribute to community resilience and may help people to bounce back from major crises—human, natural, technological, and even political. The science team on this project, representing Drury University, Cornell University, and the USDA Forest Service, are social scientists studying how nature can contribute to the resilience of communities as people work together on memorial events and recovery. A recent book Greening in the Red Zone includes writings from some of team members and describes how people turn to nature in times of hardship and disaster.

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Landscapes of Resilience Overview


The Landscapes of Resilience project involves trans-disciplinary research, design, and Open Spaces Sacred Places (OSSP) creation in Joplin, MO and New York City. These two communities face distinct stressors, operating in different contexts: the 2011 EF5 tornado in Joplin and the 2012 Hurricane Sandy in New York. Both places draw upon unique histories, cultures, and sets of assets to create OSSPs. The intent, purpose, goals, location, target audience, and programming of the new OSSPs are determined through community-led planning processes in response to local needs and priorities. These OSSPs create new narratives of hope, transformation and recovery.

Our team views OSSPs as crucial pieces of infrastructure that are unique, adaptive, and vital to community health and well-being, particularly in response to natural disasters and other stressors. Our research and experience suggest that OSSPs serve as catalyzing mechanisms within systems that confer resilience across individual, family, community, and social-ecological scales and over time—including immediately post-disturbance, during stages of recovery, and over long term processes of neighborhood and community change.

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About Us

We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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