Two years of hurricanes: Dauphin Island's resilience and future sustainability

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"Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf of Mexico Coast in 2004 and severely impacted a number of areas including Dauphin Island (DI), a barrier island off the coast of Alabama (USA). Significant physical, economic, social, and environmental destruction resulted. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, impacting Texas to Florida. Again, DI experienced large loss of beachfront, homes, businesses, and general community disruption. Following successive disasters, DI leaders decided to reinvent their community in a sustainable way. A strategic planning effort was mounted that was initiated, driven, and completed by the community of more than 1,500 stakeholders. Five E's Unlimited of Seattle, WA provided leadership, technical expertise, and facilitation to DI in its actions to become more sustainable and resilient than it had been in the past. Major emphasis of this strategic examination was placed upon shifting their tax base from one dominated by expensive rental home income taxes to a more diverse small business community. In addition, the community conducted an intensive examination into its internal assets (environmental, cultural, historic, etc.) in order to reverse their significant rural economic leakage patterns. During this 12 month strategic planning effort, the Community Capitals Framework or Cornelia Flora was used to understand how communities function with regards to sustainable community economic development and guide consensus-building and decision-making toward an improved, more sustainable community with a resilient future. This presentation will show (1) how the community capitals (model) framework was used to identify the different kinds of assets that DI possessed and (2) illustrate through the "spiraling capital assets" model how the community was able to trace its points of decline and plot its strategic improvement milestones to reach a more sustainable and resilient future." (conference abstract)

Social impacts, Social capital, Fisheries, Economic policy, Environmental impacts, Local policy, Ecotourism, Enterprise development, Natural resource-based enterprise, Economic impacts, Sustainability, Community development, Rural planning, Social capital, Physical capital, Financial capital, Political capital, Natural capital, Governance
Presented at the XVI International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology: "Integrative thinking for complex futures: Creating resilience in human-nature systems", Bellingham, WA, 10-13 September 2008