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Resilience Is About Relationships, Not Just Infrastructure

As cities prepare for climate change in earnest, the importance of community connections cannot be overstated.
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Reuters

When dealing with severe weather events, the type that climate change is making more common, improved infrastructure is important. But the social ties of a neighborhood – the kind of relationships that are nurtured by trips to the corner coffee shop and chats on the sidewalk – might prove equally important when it comes to saving lives.

In a New Yorker article this week (behind a paywall), sociologist Eric Klinenberg looks at the impact that solid, place-based social networks can have on protecting lives in a natural disaster. He takes as his example the Chicago heat wave of July 1995, which killed 739 people. As you might expect, the mortality rates were highest in poor neighborhoods. African-American communities were particularly badly affected.