The outreach mission of the Center for Resilient Communities is to provide guidance for enhancing the well-being of communities and landscapes in Idaho and the US West. The basis for this is through co-produced knowledge built upon partnerships with communities, and local, state, and federal agencies. This includes the integration of place-based knowledge with social-ecological systems approaches for enhancing community resilience through the development of Community-based Observing Networks (CBONs). The Community-based Observing Network for Adaptation and Security in the Bering Sea has been running for eight years as network of Alaskan and Russian Far East communities.
The CRC has built a strong collaboration with the Idaho Rural Partnership (IRP) program through the analysis of the outcomes from the IRP’s 26 community reviews from the last 16 years. Ongoing community-based research has led to the development of adaptive capacity indices (ACI) and in particular the Arctic Water Resources Vulnerability Index (AWRVI).
Rural Idaho communities contend with numerous social, economic, and environmental issues, and in response, some communities have undertaken Community Reviews through the Idaho Rural Partnership (IRP) Community Review program. The IRP’s mission is to efficiently and effectively provide the host community with objective information from external community development professionals, create a forum to express internal leadership viewpoints and citizen feedback, recommend resources, and provide follow-up as needed. Thirty-one rural communities in Idaho have been reviewed since 2000. The IRP is a partnership between Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho Transportation Department, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, the Association of Idaho Cities, and University of Idaho Extension, along with various federal agencies and private sector groups.
The CRC has been collaborating with the IRP since April 2014 and undertaken a meta-analysis of these community review surveys to better understand patterns and trends in the perceived range of assets and challenges facing rural Idaho residents. Using a mixed methods research approach, the major themes emerging from the community review surveys point to dissatisfaction with employment, continuing education, and recreational opportunities, and satisfaction with health care, police and fire protection, with several elements indicative of strong social capital. However, satisfaction for many survey questions was found to vary by population and remoteness. An understanding of these themes and patterns can support approaches toward enhancing community resilience.
In partnership with the Native village of Eklutna, the CRC has developed an innovative geodatabase approach to representing relationship to place using the indigenous knowledge of the Denai’na Eklutna people. Place-based—or indigenous—communities, in which multiple generations have a long-standing connection to the landscape, possess a very close, deep, and intricate relationship to places and times around them. While GIS databases have been adopted by indigenous communities for a multitude of applications, these invariably use conventional approaches for representing phenomena of interest. In partnership with Indigenous Denai’na of Eklutna, Alaska, we have developed a geodatabase approach for representing relationships between people and place that attempts to do so from a local worldview.