(Adiel + Sarah)
While it is difficult to plan a full mitigation strategy without a clear and certain approach to our topic–disaster resiliency and relief in Puerto Rico–we will attempt to list a few considerations that would hopefully mitigate any proposed strategy by making sure we are aware of any issue as it arises. Central to this is strategy is to try, to the best of our ability, to make no assumptions. Of course, this is easier said than done, but we will try to check all “facts” we base work on not only with scientific studies, but also with community conversations, where we might understand better the extended web of correlations and causation. We believe it is crucial to speak not just with community leaders but also with the members of the community, those who might not feel comfortable representing a larger group of people, but still have invaluable experience. While of course we know it is impossible to talk to everyone affected by any topic as large as those we are addressing in this course, our hope is to still try to balance voices of leadership and those of membership in conversations we have. With these people we can coordinate and plan for the next disaster, and turn the study of a topic into something more actionable and realistically possible. We would also mitigate by constantly looking at precedents of previous hazard scenarios. A cross-historical and cross-cultural comparison can provide insights into potential unintended consequences. While we do this, though, it will be important to remember that each case study is particular also to the culture of any location; not all successful strategies can be successfully transposed.
To explain more specifics related to these general strategies: first and most important is making sure that we are using participatory processes to plan for the future. To do this, it will be key to make sure that it is easy to participate. We would need to spend time and resources to ensure that there are mechanisms for community engagement and mobilization, whether through existing outlets or by creating new ones. These organizations will look different for different communities, and we would need to be constantly evaluating their effectiveness and reach. When any plan is determined, we would rely on advocacy and marketing–spreading information both related to the disaster and related to our proposals. In this, though, it is also imperative to leave room for critique. We must inform the community of how we plan to help, and then openly accept feedback on those proposed strategies.