The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program, in conjunction with the Mississippi state APA chapter, just held the second in a series of planning workshops this year dedicated to enhancing knowledge about environmental resiliency. The workshop, held in Jackson, brought together professors from nearby Jackson State, Mississippi State, private consultants and Sea Grant staff to present tools that would help cities and towns improve their local sustainability practices. Michael Seymour, with Mississippi State, shared an online tool highlighting best practices and community development ideas that are integral to Smart Growth implementation. Joan Edwards, with Jackson State, demonstrated how cities can self-assess themselves to see what kind of progress they are making towards sustainability. Melissa Pringle, with Allen Engineering, highlighted several projects the firm worked on related to resiliency and green infrastructure and showed how living shorelines may be used in the careful management of freshwater bodies as well.
Workshop attendees were also given the opportunity to reflect on the day’s proceedings by participating in a “Resiliency Roundtable” to determine the types of policy that attendees felt were essential in affecting local environmental change. Attendees were able to rank various environmental policy choices and present their ideas as to why they valued particular aspects over others. The roundtable discussion helped the attendees synthesize the findings elaborated on earlier and then see how they might fit into a broader policy framework.
The idea of resiliency is one that has been covered extensively in coastal Mississippi and Alabama, where the threat of hurricanes and coastal flooding underscores the importance of being able to bounce back quickly from cataclysmic change. The potential for sudden environmental change is present in Central Mississippi though as well. The beauty of an oxbow lake or a cypress swamp can be easily altered or eradicated if care isn’t taken to understand the degree to which urban systems affect natural ones. Likewise, urban systems can’t grab our attention if no care is taken to incorporate the beauty of nature in city planning and design. Large systems can be complicated though, which is why workshops, such as the one held in Jackson, are so important for providing insights that cities can use to adapt to change more readily.