Few people in the world of community development got their start as early in life as Lahela Williams, a 2019 Rubinger Fellow who serves as the deputy director for Hawaiian Community Assets. Williams was barely a teen when she joined the board of her homestead association, a group that promoted safety, education and other quality-of-life issues for the Native community where she grew up on the island of O’ahu. That first job helped lay the foundation of a career dedicated to nurturing Hawaiian community leadership, as well as financial and personal empowerment for her fellow islanders.
When natural disasters strike—as they increasingly have—there are profound differences between response and recovery in rural areas and urban ones. On the eve of the annual Rural LISC seminar (this year in Monticello, New York, June 4-7), vice president and Rural LISC director Suzanne Anarde published an article in Shelterforce about helping community-based organizations better respond when disaster hits, boost rural resilience, and support communities in preparing before disasters befall them.
In an op-ed for the Daily Yonder, Suzanne Anarde, VP of Rural LISC, and Matt Dunne of the Center on Rural Innovation take aim at pervasive media portrayals of a rural America in hopeless decline (witness a recent New York Times column by Paul Krugman). The challenges are real, they acknowledge, but far from intractable. We must take cues from small towns building innovative local economies, and invest strategically to spark sustainable development and growth in the heartland—for the good of the entire country.
It’s hurricane season, and communities in the Southeastern United States are just setting out on the hard road to recovery from the destructive force of Florence. LISC has years of experience partnering with local groups to help residents rebuild, and stewarding funds to get that complex work done more efficiently and effectively. In a roundtable interview, four of our resident experts offer reflections and critical best practices for rebuilding, plus a list of the top five things to do post-disaster. Top photo: Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria © Nashish Scott