Creating a Rural Resiliency Vision requires a holistic approach, combining sector-specific climate adaptations with traditional rural character components. Specific care must be taken to address issues that occur at greater frequency or impact in rural communities due to their specific circumstances. The Resilient Rural Community Vision Statement was crafted from the climate change preparedness documents, local plans of conservation and development, and research on rural character.
Rural resiliency illustrations are available in Appendix A for agriculture, cultural resources, infrastructure, natural resources, public health, and a resilient rural town center. These illustrations were developed using rural characteristics listed in Wozniak-Brown (2017) and created by Peter Minutti of the University of Connecticut.
Resilient Rural Community Vision Statement
Rural resiliency is the ability of a rural community or region to withstand, recover from, and successfully adapt to economic and environmental change to emerge stronger and adapted. A truly resilient rural community and region will implement strategies to manage change while maintaining and celebrating its rural character.
A Resilient Rural Community:
- Learns about the threats from climate change;
- Incorporates resiliency across local plans and staff positions in local government;
- Strengthens their town center so that residents may still work, live, and play;
- Prepared to respond to large-scale disasters and small-scale changes;
- Able to manage extreme events with minimal disruption of day to day activities;
- Practices responsible and system-wide planning;
- Continues to improve their adaptive capacity and resiliency planning;
- Listens to multiple stakeholders;
- Provides equitable access to the social services, health care, and education needed to maintain capacity, flexibility, and high quality of life;
- Offers a diverse range of housing and multi-modal transportation options;
- Protects small businesses, farms, and historical resources;
- Encourages neighbors helping neighbors;
- Manages its natural resources responsibly;
- Designs infrastructure appropriate to the community;
- Develops strong partnerships with public, non-profit, and private groups throughout the region; and,
- Celebrates the unique rural character attributes of their community.
Explore the Vision Images below:
Resilient Rural Town Center
While this is not a particular category or sector, it illustrates a rural community where members interact with each other, participate in community functions, and patronize local businesses. The green could act as a community gathering place where residents and visitors may meet or enjoy local events whether it’s a farmers’ market, historical recreation, or concert as a main event. A resilient village center provides appropriate walking routes, shade for summer events, parking for electric vehicles, access to drinking water, and easy spaces for peer to peer interactions.
A resilient rural agriculture system grants farmers the flexibility and support needed to conduct resiliency activities. Education of farmers and by farmers will be paramount as we transition to a new climate system. Local food systems should match the topography, geography, and climatic predictions of a given region. Businesses should look to patronize local farms. Municipalities should actively seek out ways to support local farms through sensible regulation, encouraging agri-tourism, and inviting educational events. On-farm resiliency will depend on smart water management, livestock and crop transitions, and infrastructure investments.
Resilient Cultural Resources
As with the other categories, cultural resources in the rural communities are vulnerable in the face of climate change. Rural cultural resources include a wide range of important additions to the rural social fabric. Unique languages and small ethnic communities are crucial dimensions that enhance the cultural diversity within our small towns. Structural elements of rural communities include buildings, historical sites, stonewalls, cemeteries, barns, etc.
Recognizing the significant capital investment and necessary functions associated with infrastructure, a resilient system will be designed and maintained to meet the expectations of a new climate future. Where possible, insufficient infrastructure will be replaced when possible. The replacements and repair should be incorporated into long-range capital planning for municipalities. Infrastructure includes road systems, water treatment facilities, flood control, and critical facilities. Special care should be taken in the maintenance of traditionally rural features such as narrower roads, scenic overlooks/viewsheds, entrances to towns, potable drinking water wells, stonewalls, functioning septic systems/water treatment facilities, etc. Municipal and regional daily and regular actions should consider reducing the impacts that could exacerbate climate impacts such as salination of the groundwater table, destabilizing slopes, and discharging water.
Resilient Natural Resources
A resilient natural resource system will be a balance of conservation, thoughtful intervention, and benign neglect. While the destruction of natural resources during natural disaster events is, to a certain extent, unpreventable, care can be taken to protect sensitive species, community assets, and important biological communities. Climate change will bring about inevitable changes to the species composition in the natural communities. Municipalities should undertake efforts to conserve important tracts of land, limit development in flood zones, protect slopes, preserve agricultural soils, manage water usage and disposal responsibly, and intervene on invasive species.
Resilient Public Health
For the Northwest Hills of Connecticut, the greatest risks posed by climate change include high-heat, intense storm events (winter & summer), drought, increased population of disease-carrying vectors, and more. A resilient public health system will seek to reduce the spread of disease, educate residents on ways to protect themselves from the climate risks, and communicate with the public prior, during, and after significant storm events. Municipalities should review their evacuation procedures, emergency sheltering capacity (including provisioning of heating or cooling), Special attention should be given to the elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable residents who may be disadvantage based on language, race, or economic concerns.