Conference Attendance: Sharing, Learning, and Applying
In December 2019, Stephanie Daniel, Management Analyst III, attended the National Brownfields Training Conference in Los Angeles, California which was cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association. The educational format of the conference provided best practices, strategies, and opportunities for Brownfields work. Attendees hailed from all over the United States and were representative of local, state, and federal government, federal and state contractors, developers and investors, financial and insurance providers, consultants, and more.
In January 2020, Kyle Spencer, Deputy Resilience Officer, attended a stakeholder advisory group meeting for Sandia National Laboratories in Washington, D.C., with the City’s new Environmental Sustainability Manager, Esi Langston. The meeting focused on designing resilient communities: a consequence-based approach for grid investments. Kyle presented the City of Norfolk’s efforts regarding the zoning code, the resilient quotient, and other ongoing resilient efforts in the City of Norfolk.
In January 2020 Resilience Fellow Margaret Epes had the opportunity to attend the 21st annual Virginia Association for Biological Farming Conference in Roanoke, VA, where Resilience was a key theme. Attending with her “Resilience Lens” on, she saw two overall themes of the conference: using food in resilience strategies, and resilience strategies in food production.
Food in and of itself contributes to a more resilient city, but it is also something that can be woven into other resilience strategies. Many of the sessions attended covered techniques and best practices for growing food, particularly focusing on permaculture and regenerative techniques. Some of the highlights included a session entirely on the best edible landscaping varieties for this region and an entire session on the uses of okra. Perhaps most notable was the session on Community Food Forests that examined the dos, don’ts, and best practices from community food forests across the country. Margaret had the opportunity to connect with the speaker John Munsell, a Virginia Tech agroforestry specialist and co-author of “The Community Food Forest Handbook,” and looks forward to harnessing him and his findings as tools.
The negative effects that climate change has had on farming was a big topic throughout the conference. Farmers are experiencing extreme fluctuations between too much water and not enough water, more variable rainfall and temperatures, warmer winters, warmer nights, more frequent and intense heat waves, and more pest and disease pressure. Therefore, farmers are being forced to make some big changes in order to survive. Resilience thinking and resilience strategies are key. Keynote speaker Laura Lengnick discussed how response, recovery, and transformation capacity techniques should be used together in a successful resilience operation. She also showed how resilient systems cultivate diverse relationships of mutual benefit, regional self-reliance, and community-based wealth.
Margaret left the conference inspired to incorporate food growing techniques into ongoing resilient efforts in Norfolk.