Today I met with Daniel Homsey (aka Mr. Neighbourhood) of the San Francisco city Neighbourhood Empowerment Network. I first met Daniel in New Zealand and was impressed by the way he communicates ideas about resilience and his passion for recovery preparedness, as he proudly says – “I’m a fourth generation San Franciscan and this stuff really matters to me”.
Last time I saw Daniel we were in the Christchurch Red Zone talking about the challenges that residents face (he even put some liquefaction in a bag – I wondered how that would fare through customs). So it was somewhat of a shock to meet again at his office in City Hall, built after the 1906 earthquake it is a truly grand and magnificent building with a gold leaf dome, chandeliers and marble floors and an air of important business about the place.
And it is indeed important business that Daniel does; he clearly understands the issues his beloved city will face post-emergency and works with urgency to support neighbourhoods to become engaged stewards of their own communities, encourages government to sit as a partner to solve issues, to recognise and support community leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of others – it is initiatives like this, built up over time that will make residents feel safe and supported enough to endure the long recovery process – along with saving money and improving community life along the way. Or as Daniel puts it, “lean forward in your vision – integrate this into your day to day – make it standard before the earthquake, then there are not huge back and forward arguments in the recovery phase”.