by Lydia Bilodeau, Monica Giermek, and Priscilla Hernandez
Since the early 1990’s, Susan Crow has focused her efforts on applying GIS and other technologies to ecosystem based management programs in order to help communities have a better understanding on the negative implications that comes with industrial development and population growth. She believes that by recognizing these implications and visualizing future alternative, communities can make sustainable decisions. PlaceMatters is a non profit organization that supports tools for community involvement in land use planning situations. Place Matter takes pride in bridging the divide between social and science tools and approaches. This is done by giving recommendations for effective integration of these two approaches, and providing training and outreach programs in order to broaden use of division support tools.
Her current project is titled, “Creating Resilient Communities, Ecosystem Based Management”. The site for the project is the tri-county region of South Carolina. This region is an area that has been affected by Hurricane Katrina and Rita, growth, and changing sea levels, a result of global climate change. Creating Resilient Communities wishes to incorporate holistic planning and adaptive management. This project will help area residents, businesses, planners, and elected officials make better informed decisions concerning where land should be developed. It also aims to prepare communities to resist damage from natural disasters, conserve natural areas, and assess coast community vulnerability.
Creating resilient communities faces certain challenges due to the tri-counties having fractured governance and planning, no jurisdictional coordination, and no regional database. They hope their efforts will open up several opportunities for the community, such as public and private partnership, regional planning initiatives and hopefully provide a willingness to cooperate among the different stakeholders. This project is planned to run up until 2009. Susan Crown and Place Matters hope that communities will benefit from all their combined efforts. Expected benefits include flood control, recreation, tourism, food materials, and fish and wildlife preservation.
Susan Crow is a member of the public service faculty of the Institute of Government and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia. She is currently a fellow for PlaceMatters, a program of theDavid and Lucile Packard Foundation located in Denver.