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The Essential Elements for Rebuilding a Community After a Disaster ~ Resiliency and The Role of the Architect

I spent some time with Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop at Greenbuild 2014, the pre-eminent gathering of sustainability professionals.


Sherry is the Executive Director at American Institute of Architects Foundation.  She spoke at Greenbuild on the topic of Resiliency in the 21st Century. I thought it was a great title, but I needed help from Sherry to explain the term “resiliency” in the context of the Greenbuild conference and the theme of sustainability. This interview is Sherry’s explanation and our discussion.

As an example, we discussed the issues that arose and some of the lessons learned while trying to rebuild the  9th Ward in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Some of the topics discussed during this interview were:

  • The best principles and practices for rebuilding a community moving forward;
  • Community participation as a critical element of rebuilding and resiliency;
  • How developing a community where neighbors care about each other and how important neighbor involvment element is to surviving a disaster;
  • The central role that architects can play in the process, not just for their drafting and planning skills, but for ability to “process think”;
  • How signifiant affordability is as part of the rebuilding process.

The key point that Sherry got across to me was that the goal was not just to rebuild, but learn the lessons of the disaster and to rebuild so that the community, not only comes back, but thrives and continues to thrive in a way, likely not imagined before the disaster.

While we didn’t discuss this at the time of the interview, I would like to add that in rebuilding the community, we should help rebuild in such a way that the existing residence of the community benefit from their new community and are not displaced as a result of higher values.

Featured Guests Sherry lea Bloodworth Botop

Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop LinkedIn
Executive Director, American Institute of Architects Foundation

Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop, CFRE, is the Executive Director of AIAF, the philanthropic extension of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Bloodworth Botop is responsible for all programs and activities related to the AIAF mission. Ms. Botop previously served as a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Development at Architecture for Humanity. Their, her role encompassed leading the development teams, assisting the Board of Directors with development strategies, and managing key donor relationships as well as relations with foundation, government, and non-governmental organization partners.

Bloodworth Botop’s long-standing philanthropic expertise includes founding Housing Resource Centers with embedded Design Studios following Hurricane Katrina. Following testimony before Congress centered on the value of design in communities, she raised more than $40 million dollars to help rebuild low-income communities across the Gulf Coast. She is a 2014 White House Innovation Fellow and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

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