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Professional development workshop teaches planning for resilience

By: Brandi Clarke / Published: Mar 31,  2015

Over 30 professionals from cross sectors of the state, including city planners, floodplain managers and other government officials, participated in a hands-on comprehensive resilience workshop at the Biloxi Visitors Center on March 27. The workshop provided participants the opportunity to learn about the tools available to coastal communities to address sea level rise, manage stormwater impacts and enhance coastal resilience.

Speakers presented on a variety of topics, including environmental resilience and the urban form, understanding flood hazard vulnerabilities, stormwater management techniques, and best management practices for developing new ordinances.

Stephen Deal, land use planning extension specialist for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium’s Legal Program, the event’s organizer, discussed how climate and natural systems affect and interface with the planning process and efforts to engage in local placemaking.

“Great places actively respond and engage with their environment,” Deal said. “When looking for solutions we should consider the scale and nature of the solution and whether we want to address this through our regulation or engage with the civic culture to come up with an answer?”

Stephen opened the workshop by discussing how the urban form interacts with natural systems and the ways in which our sense of place is often framed by the natural context. He also highlighted the wide range of land use planning techniques available to help communities forge more resilient cities that can more easily co-exist with natural systems.

A demonstration by Marian Hanisko, NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management, provided a number of tools that are available through the Digital Coast website to help communities explore possible impacts from flood events. Digital Coast topics include green infrastructure, water quality and climate adaptation. Coastal County Snapshots, the Sea Level Rise Viewer and the Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper are examples of high-level planning tools that support community conversations about flood hazard vulnerabilities by providing maps and information showing where people, places, and natural resources are exposed to flooding.

The Resiliency Roundtable provided an interactive session for small group discussions about resilience planning and the challenges communities face. Participants also identified technical and resource needs and next steps for addressing such needs.

“Overall the workshop was useful in that it provided valuable information centered around my research and work in environmental land use at Jackson State University,” said Greg Thompson, Ph.D., of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. 

The Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association co-sponsored this event.

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