The Resilience through Innovation in Sustainable Energy (RISE) platform seeks to re-envision how universities interact with communities, NGOs, private sector partners, and local governments and how to match the knowledge and capacities of an extended partner network with community needs. We are working to move beyond a humanitarian aid approach in the aftermath of disasters to find new ways of building collaborations that can enhance resilience and foster convergent projects among diverse disciplines and sectors.

 
Participants for the 2018 Puerto Rico RISE(ing) work held in Mayaguez

Participants for the 2018 Puerto Rico RISE(ing) work held in Mayaguez

 

Following the September 2017 landfall of Hurricane Maria, millions of Americans awoke to an island devastated by wind and water – an altered landscape of fallen trees, toppled transmission lines, and broken shelters. In the months that followed, most were left stranded without power, communication, or adequate support. Today, almost a year after the impact, many communities are still suffering from the effects of the neglected infrastructural systems that Maria exposed.

How might the collective neglect of Puerto Rican communities post-Hurricane be remedied in the future? How can Puerto Rico arise from devastation to be stronger and more resilient than ever? Can Puerto Rico’s resilient recovery, rooted in sustainable energy innovation and empowered communities, be an example and an inspiration beyond the island? What can vulnerable yet innovative communities inside and outside Puerto Rico teach each other? How can universities and community members share knowledge and join together to find sustainable, resilient solutions?

Out of these questions the Resiliency through Innovation in Sustainable Energy (RISE) platform was born. This platform seeks to re-envision how universities interact with communities, NGOs, private sector partners, and local governments and how to match the knowledge and capacities of an extended partner network with community needs. RISE goes beyond a humanitarian aid approach in the aftermath of disasters to build a collaborative platform for enhancing resilience and fostering convergence among disciplines and sectors.

A community of interest around RISE concepts evolved in the year following the devastating 2017 hurricane season, involving more than twenty mainland universities, the University of Puerto Rico, and multiple community groups across the island. In June 2018, the first Puerto Rico-based RISE workshop brought together over ninety representatives from twenty-six universities, from both Puerto Rico and the mainland, fourteen from local and federal governments as well as community based organizations, and several private sector participants. The workshop developed work groups on issues such as the relationships between universities and communities, the macro political, economic and cultural context of resilience, the relationship between resilience and the built environment, and students’ experiences in disasters. The intent of this convergence was to 1) articulate our collaborative vision; 2) explore our collaborative capacity; 3) define critical research questions and project interventions, and 4) establish project task teams to move the collective effort of shaping a more resilient Puerto Rico forward.

The workshop activities created a common vision of collaboration and framework convergent collaboration that will direct the emerging RISE platform and enhance the resilience of ALL participants’ communities, localities, and organizations that participate within its growing partner network.

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