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City Manager's Office
City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Timothy Burroughs, Chief Resilience Officer, (510) 981-7437

COMMUNITY RESILIENCE CENTERS ANNOUNCED
Centers are Product of Berkeley Resilience Strategy

Berkeley, California (Friday, April 01, 2016) - The City of Berkeley announced six "community resilience centers," places where underserved neighborhoods can receive training, supplies and other resources to better prepare for and recover from disasters.

These centers will be at existing community hubs, such as a senior affordable housing complex, a historically black church, an intercultural gathering center and a center for people with disabilities.

The use of these locations to promote preparedness and coordinate response is part of a broader strategy, also being launched today, to use interconnectedness as a driving force in making Berkeley more resilient -- better able to withstand shocks of any kind, be it natural, human, economic or other factors.

Emphasizing a culture of collaboration among neighbors, agencies, other cities is a central part of Berkeley's first Resilience Strategy, generously supported by 100 Resilient Cities, which also re-thinks City services by seeking and prioritizing projects that benefit the community in multiple ways.

On an issue like street paving, the Resilience Strategy discourages looking at effects in terms of only one benefit, paving, which seals off the ground and contributes to flooding while also washing sometimes toxic stormwater into the Bay. The permeable pavers, rain garden and other green infrastructure the City has put into place on Allston Way not only paved streets, but they also filter toxins out of stormwater, reduce flooding at the location and temper the flow of stormwater to prevent flooding downstream in West Berkeley.

As Berkeley looks to build a new parking garage downtown on Center Street, the City is looking to use its rooftop to build a microgrid -- a source of renewable energy in normal times and a critical source of power during a disaster or times without power. Berkeley's proposed microgrid would be solar-powered and combined with energy storage batteries.

100 Resilient Cities, which was pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, selected Berkeley as one of the founding cities because of Berkeley's leadership nationally on issues like disaster preparedness and environmental sustainability. Though Berkeley has had success implementing disaster preparedness and sustainability plans, there's also room for improvement. And 100 Resilient Cities has provided funding and other critical resources to guide the process.

Berkeley is the first city in the Bay Area and the sixth in the world to develop a comprehensive resilience strategy.

A key element of building a resilient city is addressing a community's inequities, such as by race or socioeconomic factors. Inequities place stress on those individuals in particular as well as the community as a whole. Those inequities get exacerbated in a disaster, so it's something the Resilience Strategy is designed to address. Disaster preparedness provides a lens.

The City of Berkeley provides incentives for neighborhoods to organize around disaster preparedness, such as providing dumpsters to blocks that regularly organize and collaborate with the City and also by and, for qualifying neighborhoods, giving away caches of emergency supplies, including generators, a 50-person first aid kit and more.

Though many neighborhoods have received those benefits, it hasn't reach as well into parts of South and West Berkeley, which also have more people of color as well as more people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Instead of thinking of community solely by neighborhood and encouraging organization by block, the designation Friday of these six community hubs as "resilience centers" recognizes that there are already spaces that organize the very same underserved community members we'd like to target.

Berkeley's Community Resilience Centers are:

Join us at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, at 3pm Friday April 1 to celebrate the launch.

Help us build a more resilient Berkeley.  

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