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City releases resilience strategy focused on addressing racial equity

The comprehensive strategy outlines efforts to prepare Boston to confront challenges, ranging from climate change to acts of terrorism.

Addressing one of Boston's most complex challenges, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today presented Boston's first citywide Resilience Strategy. Boston's Resilience Strategy is focused on ensuring every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and removing the barriers of systemic racism that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities. The Strategy was developed as part of the Boston's participation in the 100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) network and has been led by Boston's Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), Dr. Atyia Martin, in addition to extensive community and expert input.

At a roundtable discussion at the Thelma D. Burns Building in Roxbury, Mayor Walsh, Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Martin, leaders from 100RC, and other City stakeholders released Resilient Boston: An Equitable and Connected City, which outlines visions and goals, built upon a racial equity framework, to achieve a more resilient Boston.

"True resilience requires us to go beyond treating the symptoms of inequality, to changing the structures that produce it," said Mayor Walsh. "To be a strong city, we must learn to understand one another, break down the systemic racism of our history, and advocate for the rights of every Bostonian. We will build a resilient Boston - prepared to confront the many challenges of the 21st century - upon a foundation that protects equal opportunity for everyone."

Image for mayor martin walsh offers remarks during the unveiling of boston's resilience strategy

Resilient Boston: An Equitable and Connected City identifies recommended visions and goals, built upon the racial equity framework, to achieve a more resilient Boston. They are:

  • Reflective City, Stronger People: A Boston where our government leads by example to proactively institutionalize racial equity within its programs and policies while encouraging other organizations to do the same; where Bostonians engage with each other to heal and strengthen our connections; and where communities are trained and equipped to support each other and partner with government, businesses, and community organizations in the face of shocks and stresses.
  • Collaborative, Proactive Governance: A Boston that prioritizes community-led processes and community partnerships, where City services are delivered equitably to people and communities, and City government reflects the diverse culture and people it serves.
  • Equitable Economic Opportunity: A Boston in which intergenerational wealth building opportunities are accessible to every Bostonian; no family lives in fear of displacement; and all children benefit from educational opportunities that prepare them for post-secondary education and careers.
  • Connected, Adaptive City: A Boston where all residents are connected to each other and to their city through resilient infrastructure and systems that meet the needs of all families. These connected communities will be prepared for and can adapt to the urgent threat of climate change.

City of Boston staff and Dr. Atyia Martin have worked for nearly two years with more than 11,000 Bostonians to develop this comprehensive strategy. The ambitious strategy reflects a cross-collaborative, non-traditional and inclusive approach to developing solutions. Resilient Boston breaks down silos, uses data to inform decision-making, ensures that programs and policies are developed using a racial equity lens, and is an important pillar of Imagine Boston 2030, the first citywide plan in 50 years, which was launched just this week.

"The release of Resilient Boston is the culmination of a collaborative, inclusive Citywide process to identify and root out the causes of inequity across our city," said CRO Dr. Atyia Martin. "We have developed a bold and innovative strategy to address systemic racism and plan ahead for the many challenges our City will face in the decades to come. We will work neighborhood by neighborhood to take action to build the resilience of every Bostonian."

"We applaud Mayor Walsh, Dr. Martin, and the City of Boston in taking this important step," said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City as the vision of this strategy is implemented throughout the city, and creating a model for how cities can tackle the interconnected issues of race and equity along with long-term planning."

"Boston's commitment to framing a resilience strategy through efforts to address systemic racism stands out as a revolutionary step in urban planning," said Otis Rolley, 100 Resilient Cities Regional Director for North America. "We're honored to support this comprehensive work as Bostonians reaffirm their commitment to fostering social cohesion, establishing equal opportunity, and protecting justice for everyone."

The release of Resilient Boston follows the release of The Blueprint in November 2016, a preliminary framework for how the City of Boston intends to approach removing the barriers of racism that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunity and support to thrive from childhood to retirement. The Blueprint was accompanied by the launch of ongoing citywide dialogues about racism, in partnership with the Hyams Foundation.

In August 2015, Mayor Walsh announced Dr. Martin as the City of Boston's first CRO, a position created to lead resilience efforts to help Boston prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from the "shocks" - catastrophic events like floods, infrastructure failure and acts of terrorism - and "stresses" - slow-moving disasters like persistent racial and economic inequality, lack of affordable housing and unemployment - which are increasingly part of 21st century life. A member of the 100RC network since 2014, Boston's resilience-building efforts place a unique focus on social resilience in a city affected by historic and persistent divisions of race and class. View the full report online.

About The Mayor's Office of Resilience and Racial Equity

The Mayor's Office of Resilience and Racial Equity leads efforts to help Boston plan for and deal with catastrophes and slow-moving disasters - like persistent racial and economic inequality - that have become part of 21st century life. For more information about the office, please visit the Resilience website.

About 100 Resilient Cities-Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit the 100 Resilient Cities website.

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