Is Redding Ready for Resilience?

“He Wa‘a He Moku; He Moku He Wa‘a”
(“A canoe is an island. An island is a canoe.”)

Ancient Hawaiian saying

In 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation announced they were would be investing millions of dollars in helping to create 100 Resilient Cities. After reviewing over 1,000 applications from throughout the world, they announced their final group of cities in 2016.

They define resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. Shocks are typically considered single event disasters, such as fires, earthquakes, and floods. Stresses are factors that pressure a city on a daily or reoccurring basis, such as chronic food and water shortages, an overtaxed transportation system, endemic violence or high unemployment.  City resilience is about making a city better, in both good times and bad, for the benefit of all its citizens, particularly the poor and vulnerable.”

Out of 100 cities, nearly a quarter were in the U.S. and four were in California. Among the American cities, there were 20 “shocks or stresses” listed that directly related to the fact our planet is heating up due to our continued reliance on fossil fuels for our energy and transportation needs. In other words, every single American city listed climate-related shocks and stresses that they believed would challenge them in the coming years and decades.

Nearly 90 percent listed rainfall flooding. Nearly 60 percent listed extreme heat. Nearly half specifically mentioned Climate Change. Sea level rise and coastal erosion was listed by all coastal cities while severe storms found its way onto one-third of the cities’ lists of shocks and stresses.

Other concerns included drought, water insecurity, coastal/tidal flooding, fire, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, storm surges, tornadoes, blizzards, environmental degradation, disease outbreak, extreme cold, energy insecurity, invasive species, loss of biodiversity and food insecurity. Each and every one of these are connected to the climate crisis.

Each city was tasked with developing a Resilience Strategy. Honolulu, for example, published their O’ahu Resilience Strategy in January of 2019 after 18 months of intense involvement among grassroots residents and community leaders from the for-profit, nonprofit and governmental sectors. “The Resilience Office visited all 33 neighborhood boards on O’ahu, engaged with 219 organizations, and received direct survey input from more than 2,300 individuals representing a range of Honolulu’s geographical, ethnic, gender, and age diversity.”

During one six-month period, “the Resilience Office averaged more than one public outreach meeting per day. These grassroots perspectives and concerns on resilience directly led to the selection of four key areas that ultimately form the basis of the Resilience Strategy.”

Of these four “pillars,” all are directly or indirectly related to the climate crisis. The first pillar is titled, Remaining Rooted: Ensuring an Affordable Future for Our Island. The high cost of fighting against the catastrophic consequences of the collapse of our biosphere means less money to address the economic challenges these island communities face.

The second pillar is Bouncing Forward: Fostering Resilience in the Face of Natural Disasters. The climate crisis is having a direct impact on the Hawaiian Islands. The document states, “The threats from hurricanes, flooding and extreme weather are on the rise. The City will work with individuals, neighborhoods, and institutions to be prepared to absorb these blows and rebound in ways that put our entire community on stronger footing for each successive event.”

The third pillar is Climate Security: Tackling Climate Change by Reducing Emissions and Adapting to Impacts. They state, “The climate crisis is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, and as an island society we are facing the impacts first. The city must transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy, as rapidly as possible and begin changing policies and our infrastructure to protect lives and property that are increasingly in harm’s way.”

Finally, the fourth pillar, is Community Cohesion: Leveraging the Strength and Leadership of Local Communities. Effectively fighting the climate crisis depends on a healthy, cohesive community, while the ravages of un-checked climate change will undoubtedly severely strain the ability of communities to effectively meet the challenges they are already facing.

The “captain of the ship” is the Chief Resilience Officer and Executive Director for the City and County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. His name is Joshua Stanbro and you can listen to my interview with Josh on Wake-Up Call on KKRN at 88.5 FM on Tuesday, August 6 at 4 PM, PDT. If you miss the interview, you can find the program in the archives at kkrn.org.

Josh has north state ties. He grew up in Round Mountain, California, attended Montgomery Creek Elementary School and  lost his home in the Fountain Fire in 1992. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College before he earned a law degree from Berkeley Law. He served as Environment and Sustainability Program Director for the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) from 2009-2017, where he led the Hawai‘i Fresh Water Initiative and the Hawai?i Environmental Funders Group. Previous to HCF, Josh headed The Trust for Public Land’s Hawai?i Office, where he worked with local communities to permanently protect over 25,000 acres and dedicate over $200 million in land conservation funds.

In the Executive Summary of the Resilience Strategy, it is written “A thousand years ago, voyaging canoes arrived on our Island and fostered a culture where no person or group should gain too much at the expense of our ‘aina or people. Since then, each wave of immigrants has brought their own cultural gifts to add. On a small island our shared value of community – where each individual gives a little so that the group ultimately benefits together – has always defined who we are. This core value provides a strong foundation for the O’ahu to survive, adapt, and thrive in a challenging future – but only if we empower our values with action.”

Redding is a long way from Hawaii, the most isolated human population on Earth, but we share a common climate and we all live on “island Earth,” the only home any of us will ever know. And their values of “aloha,” a society that promotes inclusion, equity, respect for differences and responsible stewardship can be ours as well.

Honolulu and other cities across the planet are taking the climate crisis seriously. They are not afraid to admit it is real and will devastate the planet if we fail to act in time. Why not Redding?

According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, only 49% of Americans are concerned that the climate crisis could harm them personally. In Redding and Shasta County, I suspect there is even less awareness of the shocks in store for us all. However, on the island of O’ahu 78% of residents believe that climate change is going to impact them personally.

Why are Hawaiians more aware of the climate crisis than we are? Is it just because they live on islands, and see their rain forests drying out and burning, witness increased hurricane activity, experience “rain bombs,” that can drop 50 inches of rain in 24 hours, receive heavy rainfall following prolonged drought, find the oceans getting warmer, the coral bleaching, sea life dying, beaches eroding and high tide flooding? Is that why?

But don’t we have enough evidence to also act? The climate crisis presents every region of the planet with a unique set of challenges. Here in Northern California, we are facing the prospect of ever increasing and more extreme heat events, deepening droughts, water scarcity, floods and more frequent and more intense wildfires. Don’t we also need a Resilience Strategy?

The O’ahu Resilience Strategy list 4 pillars, 12 goals, and 44 specific actions they are committed to enacting in their determination to become more resilient. For example, the Honolulu City Council have established clear goals and commitments: 100 percent renewable City fleet by 2035; 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045; and carbon neutrality by 2045. Why can’t Redding do something similar to this?

The City of Honolulu is mid-way through the process of developing a detailed Climate Action Plan (CAP) that will provide a comprehensive roadmap to achieve these aggressive renewable energy, decarbonized transportation, and carbon neutrality goals. Why can’t Redding develop its own Climate Action Plan?

If the Earth is to have a human future, it is critical that we effectively establish a worldwide carbon-free economy and what’s exciting is that it appears that Honolulu is providing a model for the rest of the world to learn from in how to lay the groundwork for a fossil-fuel free future. Will cities like Redding follow the lead of Honolulu and other resilient cities across the planet? The answer to that question is up to all of us. Sitting this one out is not an option. We are all responsible for this crisis and we are all going to suffer its wrath. Why not come together in our own shared community to make a difference before it is too late?

Douglas Craig
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 30 years. He believes in magic and is a Dawes fan.
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14 Responses

  1. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Good question Doug. Now, can we all shut up long enough to hear another person speak? And I don’t mean shut up permanently, only just long enough to consider what the other person is saying. I’m tempted to say that is a problem here in Redding, but I’m pretty certain that is a fairly common human failing!!
    Okay, now I’m through . . . . I’m listening . . . . I want to hear your ideas!!

  2. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    I agree with you completely, Doug. What a thoughtful article. As we see the changes accelerating around the planet, such as it being 90 degrees in the Arctic, and the Greenland glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate, we must realize the time to act is now. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will be paying the price.
    I do especially relate to the changes in Hawaii. I first visited in 1979. Everywhere I looked, it was green and lush. It seemed as if there were streams or cascading waterfalls to be found around every turn in the mountain roads. But when I went again in 2001 and in 2008, at the same time of year, I was shocked to see parks that looked as dry and brittle as Redding parks in the heat of summer. Waterfalls were hard to find, and were often a drizzle compared to their past flows.
    I think what’s happening at the North and South Poles, to the glaciers, to the tropical islands are a signal to all of us that time is running out. We need to take decisive action, and take it soon. Please consider voting for people who plan to take action to protect our planet. It’s the only home we have.

    • Avatar Randy says:

      Voting and encouraging those around us to also cast educated votes is possibly the most critical action we can take right now.

  3. Avatar Ed says:

    Why don’t we start with stopping the GROSS perpetual FLEECING of Redding citizens by the stop light cameras . I find it laughable to believe that they were Installed because the city cares about us citizens so much !

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Here’s an idea…stop at all red lights and eventually we won’t need red light cameras

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Here is a fact. There are no red light cameras at roundabouts.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Every intersection can’t be a roundabout. In Redding, there was a marked reduction in accident rates in monitored intersections. The Grand Jury I was a member of did an extensive investigation of the program….but I believe we are deviating from the theme of this article, so I’ll shut up

  4. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Thanks Doug for the climate info…Is anything being proposed to the Redding City Council or Shasta Co Board of Sups along this line ? Point out who the four cities in CA are and urge them to join these thinking out-of-the-box city leaders.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Frank, the four California cities are as different as day and night from Redding, Berkley, Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
      Plant 1.2 trillion trees is a solution that has been suggested worldwide and is being done by many nations. In Africa trees are being planted in deforested areas and to hold back the Sahara advance. On a smaller scale, in Laramie County, Wyoming the county helps home owners build living fences. Instead of wooden or metal snow fences they build tree fences. This cuts down the wind and builds snowpack which helps with slowing the snow melt time, crucial for a high desert area that is dependent on wells.

      • Avatar Randy says:

        Actually Oroville and Chico both signed climate declarations recently and that is big in an area that has been so rooted into ignorance and denial. Hopefully Redding is not far behind.

  5. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    Resilience isn’t prevention. My views on climate change in trying to prevent it in a democratic society won’t work. Too many of us enjoy the convenience that fossil fuels have brought us and we tend to only react after bad things happen, not before. Being prepared for climate change seems more pragmatic and the Ola Oahu Resilience Strategy seems like a very pragmatic document. Being prepared for what is to come.

    In Redding and the northstate we’ve been dealing with wild fires and there’s still hesitancy towards putting a real effort to becoming “resilient”. In Trinity County, we seem to be stuck in the 90’s in that we are promoting, through Congressman Huffman, a desire for more Wilderness areas and unopposed logging along roadways. Fire resilience is on the back burner. What will Redding do? Change its zoning requirements? Provide help to those that need fuel reduction work on their property?

    What’s interesting about the Strategy in Hawaii, is that they are leaning heavily on historical customs of the native population. There are efforts along the Klamath River at Somes Bar/Orleans where they are attempting to create fire resilient communities and forests that are looking at native customs to help design and drive projects. Hopefully this will gain traction.
    https://www.wkrp.network/orleanssomes-bar

  6. Avatar moe says:

    I am a little abstract in my thinking…I believe resilience is taught through adversity…we learn what we can survive, and we learn to grow from that adversity, then in that growth we move towards a better future. Because each person experiences their own resilience, they through daily actions share that resilience with the community in communal actions. All it takes is one person with the strength to get up and to speak to the adversity the community may face….Let’s take the CARR fire….such a tragedy to think about…..but at the heart of that tragic event, are our people! Each story told will be one of triumph over the adversity. I appreciate those 8 souls lost, and I appreciate Jeremy’s sacrifice to fight for his community, giving the very last full measure he could for all of us, here in Redding Ca. We have 12 new babies at the RFD…..that is the growth forward after such an event….this is the earmark for love…Redding has always been resilient…..individually…..it is now, we must recognize that we are resilient together, and we will grow to show the nation….we are a community to watch….cause we are 190.000……..strong, we are SHASTA STRONG! just a thought~

  7. Avatar Peggy Rebol says:

    Thanks Doug for this insightful article and it’s call to action for each of us individually and collectively as a community. It offers a useful road map for us to follow and mold to our specific area/community makeup. Engaging our city leaders, government agencies, business interests, community organizations, and non profit sectors along with community residents in constructive dialogue with the goal of creating resiliency for a better future for our area should be something everyone can get behind.

  8. Avatar Randy says:

    Josh Stanbro and his associates in Honolulu are demonstrating what responsible leadership looks like. Gather wide input from the citizenry, develop a plan according to that input and maintain transparent communications about success and failure. Aa Josh pointed out, the citizenry of Oahu are far ahead of the mainland in understanding how AGW is effecting their lives and are ready to prepare for the many challenges ahead. Maybe if we try to look at Shasta County as if this county is our island we could focus better on initial steps. Expanding charging stations and initiating a program that connects local people with the growing fleet of second hand EV’s would be a huge step.

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