Highlights of the Symposium Discussion

On February 10–11, 2011, the American Planning Association hosted a scoping symposium to explore a number of essential issues in guiding the Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation project as it moves forward. The sections below highlight some of the key themes and ideas that emerged during this symposium.

Symposium summary (pdf)

Defining the Audience

During the first discussion of the symposium, participants suggested the following potential audiences for the project or the final report:

  • Local planners
  • The emergency management community
  • Elected and appointed officials
  • The private sector (i.e., small business owners, community-based organizations, etc.)

Central Issues

During the next discussion of the symposium, participants offered the following issues as those that should be addressed by the project or the final report:

  • The key roles of planning in recovery
  • Lessons learned from the Disaster Mitigation and Stafford Acts
  • Opportunities for collaboration and cooperation between planners and emergency managers
  • The importance of broad-based community engagement
  • The effects of scale, diversity, power, psychology, and political interactions in recovery planning

Guiding Principles

After identifying central issues, participants discussed the following as guiding principles for the final report:

  • Traditional risk management
  • Strategic spending and investment
  • Inclusionary stakeholder involvement
  • Resilience and sustainability
  • Plan quality
  • Ongoing institutional maintenance

Structure of the Report

Next, participants offered the following reactions to the draft outline for the final report:

  • Make it clear that all communities are vulnerable.
  • Cover the dimensions of resiliency and the connection to sustainability.
  • Explore the process of defining successful recovery.
  • Discuss the “new normal” after recovery.
  • Include a cross-disciplinary glossary.
  • Include exercises for different audiences.

Best Practices Examples

In the final discussion of the symposium, participants suggested the following ideas, principles, and approaches that should be highlighted by specific case examples:

  • Avoiding disaster through pre-event planning
  • The utility of building moratoria
  • Different planning processes/approaches
  • The line between pre- and post-event
  • The cost in making readiness operational (in terms of dollars)
  • Pre-event planning with without a past disaster as an impetus
  • Examine organizational structures (centralized and decentralized)
  • Willingness to look again (openness to change)
  • Improved vertical integration
  • Roles played by faith-based groups
  • Cost-benefit analysis