The way we think reflects the way we live. Some people live their lives with more logical setups, others with more free-spirited attitudes, but the ability to live with a balance of logic and naiveté are essential for a well-rounded, stable life.

In the same way, effective sustainable development in urban planning should come with both logic and abstraction in its design. We should logically address the existing technical problems while thoughtfully anticipating the possible issues in our future society, including how we imagine our future infrastructure and how we interact with infrastructure today. University of Michigan alum Kristin Baja, with her involvement in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, has crusaded a constant focus on using the present to address existing problems from the past and build for the future. Baja, among others on the USDN staff, has capitalized on the idea of resilience to construct a type of infrastructure that addresses the climate issue in a fast-paced and evolving world: Resilience Hubs. 

Resilience Hubs are public facilities made to support communication among residents of disadvantaged communities, distribute resources and power to them and reduce carbon emissions to enhance their quality of life. Similar to standard community centers, they are created to develop social equity and community resilience, which is the general term used to refer to the measure of a community’s resources, connections, health and mental outlook, as well as other factors.

However, these Resilience Hubs also prioritize emergency management and climate change mitigation while providing opportunities for the community to become more self-sufficient. Though the performance of these hubs has yet to be evaluated in any case studies, they aim to compile both tangible and abstract components of resilience that make for the well-rounded function of a community: programming, structure, power, communication and operations. As the Director of Climate Resilience for the USDN, Baja works to connect local governments and community-based organizations for urban planning, leading the effort to make these Resilience Hubs a reality for interested communities in North America.

One of the main benefits Resilience Hubs aim to create for disadvantaged communities is a restoration of equity. In response to the over-extraction of resources and racial inequity that causes people of color and indigenous populations to face the worst of climate change, these hubs are meant to solve systemic inequity crises by acknowledging and repairing these systems on an administrative level. In supporting Resilience Hubs, local governments can demonstrate their concern for meeting a community’s needs and involving it in future decision-making. As community directors of the hubs gain financial support and interest from their local governments, the hubs can become a central mechanism by which authorities can enhance community cohesion and build trust with a fair distribution of power.

In other words, the hubs make an effort to address what each community needs while maintaining their infrastructural and cultural integrity rather than implementing a solution that is not usable in that community. In using this approach, a community can receive the specific type of help it needs in order to flourish. In addition, the purpose of the hubs is to harbor collaboration among multiple disciplines and achieve the goals of more than one stakeholder involved. In upholding awareness of the needs of communities along with the needs of local governments, the hubs uphold an all-encompassing approach to solving community problems in an adaptive and proactive way.

Here at the University, we have a responsibility to pursue efforts that benefit all walks of life on our campus. Whether we take part in leading community reform efforts or simply advocate for them indirectly, it’s important that everyone on our campus upholds our reputation of being the Leaders and the Best by working to implement and support fair and restorative policies for all groups of people. With that said, I urge University authorities to pursue the purpose of Resilience Hubs, if not the facilities themselves. This is especially salient as we continue to boast about the positive impacts of our outreach efforts, including those we implement in Detroit.

In terms of urban development, we owe it to the future of this campus and the future of Ann Arbor to begin constructing sustainable infrastructure with the mentality of appealing to all who interact with it. Besides the trivial initiatives we have executed for our city, we should be focusing on how we can make it multifaceted and adaptable to the evolving needs of our population. We should ignore the seeming importance of focusing on one person’s benefit and instead be thinking about how we can self-determine together as a city. We could mold our city into one that exemplifies our lifestyles: sustainable, inclusive and proactive. In doing so, we will create a reality that is respectable and one that we can relish.

Kianna Marquez can be reached at

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