Empowering local communities to employ land protection to combat the effects of severe weather is at the heart of the Resilient Communities program, led by the Open Space Institute (OSI) and the Thrive Regional Partnership (Thrive), with support from the Merck Family Fund and Footprint Foundation.
In the Chattanooga tristate area, which encompasses parts of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, residents work directly with regional planning experts to share their experiences with storms and local flooding. Equipped with these insights, OSI and Thrive staff advise local leaders on strategies to conserve land to slow and absorb fast-moving floodwaters. Participating communities can also apply for grants from OSI and Thrive to catalyze action.
For OSI, this innovative strategy shows the power of working locally to address larger climate threats. “People are protecting their own communities against climate change,” says OSI’s Joel Houser, Director of Capital Grants. “It is deeply gratifying to hear the stories of the families, businesses, and neighborhoods that are pulling together to address some of the biggest issues in the community.”
Residents are eager to lend their insights to influence planning decisions that will shape the future of their regions. “This group is helping participants gain an appreciation of the many natural attributes that surround us,” says Geri Lovain of the Chattanooga Housing Authority. “Most importantly, we feel empowered to address issues in our community.”