- Services and programs, like year-round classes and meetings, that are helpful in emergencies but also in daily life;
- Communications tools like radio, Wi-Fi, and other ways of information-sharing during and outside of a crisis;
- Buildings and landscape improvements like water storage, farms and gardens;
- Cost-effective, reliable power, especially including off-grid battery storage, that helps hubs be resilient;
- Operations plans that help the hub function during disruptions, during recovery, and every day;
And each of these need to be accessible for people of all abilities.At least 135 different hubs were in the works, in varying stages of readiness, as of mid-2022, Baja said, with at least 10 hubs actively up and running across the country, including in California, Maryland and Massachusetts.
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The ones that are excelling center people’s daily needs, not specific disasters, she said. When COVID hit, many hubs were already primed to serve as resource centers for food, water, Wi-Fi and child-care assistance, and became places to access information about vaccines and, sometimes, get vaccines.One hub that is up and running well is the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory Hub
in Boyle Heights, California, which Baja has been working with since 2018. The hub was a natural expansion of the conservatory’s existing capacities and programming, said Executive Director Carmelita Ramírez-Sánchez. For instance, the conservatory already had a lot of radio and arts offerings before the pandemic. It used those resources to help neighbors keep up with public health notices about COVID, Baja said. “A resiliency hub doesn’t need to be complicated or super-fancy, [but] it does need to be welcoming, and ebb and flow with the needs of those who it will serve,” Ramírez-Sánchez said.
Hubs coming to Seattle
Over the past year, Seattle has shuttled millions of dollars toward developing a resilience hub strategy, urged by the Green New Deal Oversight Board
.Last year, the mayor’s office announced $2.4 million to fund hub development
, including a study looking into needs and potential hub placement. The City Council is adding $1.5 million in JumpStart levy dollars to implement recommendations from that study.“In every way, I think something like a resilience hub can actually create the interwoven programs that we are seeing a growing need for,” said councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored a related budget proposal
. “We want people to be able to go there to be able to find refuge from extreme climates as well as seek assistance for job security, food assistance, Wi-Fi … What the community decides is needed, is what we fund and invest in.”The federal government is also expanding resilience-hub opportunities in the region. On Sept. 23, 2022, FEMA gave the city a Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant
that the city Office of Emergency Management’s Kate Hutton says is being directed toward developing resilience hubs in as many as 30 communities in eight Puget Sound counties. The city Office of Emergency Management project will involve working directly with communities to create tailorable and scalable models for hubs, and identify neighborhoods that want and need them.
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Allala from the Office of Sustainability and Environment says Seattle hubs would be in places that make sense for people where they live, even if that means they’re not in city-owned spaces like community centers or libraries
. “It's not about asking our residents to go to a place that we as the city have, like, anointed,” she said. “They're identifying that for themselves and for us, too.”Consuelo Crow from the city Office of Emergency Management says the regional hubs will be similar, and the goal is to create a model that is scalable. Tacoma is also pursuing resilience hub projects, she says.At least one hub is in development in Seattle, at Bethany United Church of Christ campus on South Beacon Hill. OSE will receive $455,000
this year from the JumpStart Fund to put toward a South Beacon Hill resilience hub. The planners are weatherizing and looking to sustainably electrify the church campus, which includes a farm, child care, organizations like Got Green, Nurturing Roots, the ReWa Beacon Hill Early Learning Center, the Black Power Epicenter Cooperative and more. The community picked this trusted and already popular gathering site as a location for the hub.Councilmember Tammy Morales, who represents Beacon Hill, sponsored the related budget action for the Bethany UCC hub, which is also receiving funding from climate-focused charities.“These organizations are active in the community, they have constituencies that are mostly people of color … who don't necessarily have a lot of time to think about climate emergencies,” Morales said. “I think it's important that there are opportunities to create space like this, especially when it is driven by community members and neighborhood organizations that are really focused on ensuring that vulnerable communities have a place to go in the event of another heat event or smoke event.” She hopes the process of building hubs will provide green jobs and skills training that can be used for building green infrastructure elsewhere.Leaders behind the South Beacon Hill hub aren’t quite ready to share more details about their plans publicly, said Green New Deal Oversight Board Co-Chair Maria Batayola via email.In addition to the South Beacon Hill hub, Allala said a coalition of organizations in South Park and Georgetown have shown interest in a hub, and are working together to make that happen.
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Allala said it’s unclear how many hubs might be needed, but that the city will need to figure that out through outreach and engagement efforts.But it’s certain that they won’t be everywhere — and that too is by design.“The concept of resilience hubs isn't necessarily to support the entire city's population, but rather to focus on our most overburdened communities,” Allala said.