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‘Resilient Communities’ Program Featured At Tri-State Summit

Image Credit: True Capture Studios

CHATTANOOGA, TN (November 16, 2023)—In a time of increasingly severe and frequent weather events, the Open Space Institute (OSI) and partners are working directly with local residents in some of the Southeast’s hardest-hit areas to develop land-based, innovative solutions that can protect against fast-moving floodwaters, reduce urban heat island effects, and control erosion. After just a year, the program is already attracting regional attention.

In 2022, OSI joined forces with the Thrive Regional Partnership on the Resilient Communities Program, a groundbreaking initiative to help communities plan for and address environmental challenges including those resulting from climate change. The program, currently being piloted in three Southeast communities, was recently featured at Thrive’s Tri-State Summit.

Thrive Summit 1 2023
From left: Joel Houser, Stephania Motes, Geri Lovain, Walker Henley, and Sarah Ott speak at the Thrive Tri-State Summit
Image Credit: Thrive Regional Partnership

Under the pilot program, residents of south Chattanooga; Dalton, Georgia; Spring City, Tennessee; and South Pittsburg, Tennessee, are working with Thrive, OSI, and local experts to understand and address the local impacts of climate change and extreme weather. Following a series of community conversations, participants developed individualized plans for their regions. Thanks to generous funding from the Merck Family Fund and the Footprint Foundation, participant organizations are currently applying for grants to support their plans.

On November 2, more than 150 attendees gathered in Ringgold, Georgia, for Thrive’s Summit. Participants from northeast Alabama, northwest Georgia, and southeast Tennessee discussed environmental stewardship and other quality-of-life issues affecting the region.

At the Summit, Joel Houser, OSI’s Director of Capital Grants, moderated a panel discussion on the Resilient Communities program featuring participants Sarah Ott, educator for Dalton Public Schools; Stephania Motes, City Manager for the Town of Spring City; Walker Henley of the South Pittsburg Area Revitalization Quest; and Geri Lovain, Service Coordinator for the Chattanooga Housing Authority.

“We discussed the Resilient Communities Program, next steps, and implementation plans,” said Houser. “What made it so special was hearing how empowered community residents now feel to tackle issues in their own backyards. It validated everything we’d hoped to achieve with the program, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

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