Implementing Resilience Hubs in Ypsilanti, Michigan
In the 2010s, global conditions including increasing temperatures, worsening income inequality, and insufficient access to social services catalyzed improved community building and localized solutions for climate-related challenges. This led to the conceptualization of resilience hubs—spaces that support residents and aid in distribution of resources before, during, and after a climate-related stressor.
As part of an Integrative Research Seminar (IRS) at SEAS, our multidisciplinary team drew from various resources, mapping tools, and community feedback to produce a framework for establishing resilience hubs in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Already having strong community bonds and a history of progressiveness, Ypsilanti is well-suited to be one of the first cities to pilot, refine, and benefit from resilience hubs.
Neighborhoods across the U.S. will face a variety of threats as the climate continues to warm over the next several decades. Southeast Michigan will likely experience more heat waves, flooding, and extreme precipitation events. Despite these environmental challenges, it is projected that this area will see an influx of migrants due to worsening climatic conditions elsewhere. By fostering resilience, the adaptive ability to resist and recover from hardship, neighborhoods can better respond to the rapid changes they will experience.
Of the many strategies to promote neighborhood resilience, some include (a) promoting small-scale and local food provisioning systems, (b) implementing locally-controlled renewable power generation, (c) improving aging stormwater management infrastructure, and (d) conducting resilience and emergency training for residents. Our research focuses specifically on resilience hubs, which can help residents achieve each of these goals depending on their needs. The graphic below depicts several of the important features of resilience hubs.
Hubs can be newly constructed buildings, modified existing structures, or networks of trained individuals throughout the neighborhood. The most critical aspect of resilience hubs is community input and involvement throughout the planning and implementation process. Citizens whom the hub is intended to serve should be the ones informing what resources are necessary and what approach best fits within their neighborhood. Without public participation, a hub cannot fulfill its purpose. With that aim, our team created a survey instrument and interview, both intended to capture some of the feelings, attitudes, and desires of the community to be considered when implementing a resilience hub.
Through a geographic information system analysis, our work has identified six areas in the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township that could benefit greatly from a resilience hub. These areas were identified with data from the Environmental Protection Agency using various environmental and demographic indicators. When combined, such factors reveal the most vulnerable areas under worsening climate conditions. We then identified potential buildings within each area that could be restructured to serve as a resilience hub while still serving their original purpose for the community (see graphic at top of post). While we have narrowed down the potential existing locations, it is still imperative to gather feedback on these spaces to identify their level of trust, value, and usefulness to the community.
Our framework also offers guidance on funding sources and community building, both of which are vital to the hub implementation process. Another IRS team will continue this work over the next year by starting data collection using the previously mentioned community feedback tools and connecting further with local organizations in Ypsilanti. Building on efforts already underway in Ypsilanti, this work will help neighborhoods throughout the city build resilience to the coming changes in our natural and social environment.
Written by Grant Faber (MS '21), Desmond Kirwan (MS '21), Trevor McCarty (MS '21), and Paige Porter (MS '21)
Advisor: Prof. Raymond De Young, Behavior, Education, and Communication Specialization
Read the full report: "A Framework for Implementing Resilience Hubs in Ypsilanti, Michigan"
Read more about resilience hubs and citizen-designed neighborhood resilience in Stewards magazine