Since the attack of 9/11 in New York and devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, 21st century lawmakers throughout the United States and Canada are creating rules, policy and passing legislation to reinforce the notion of building resilient infrastructure. The Merriam-Webster dictionary partially explains resiliency as the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens. Wikipedia says it generally means the ability to recover from some shock or disturbance. ‘Resilience theory’ was coined in the early 1970s by the Canadian ecologist C S ‘Buzz’ Holling (Emeritus Eminent Scholar and Professor in Ecological Sciences at the University of Florida). He hoped to find the hidden laws that underpin disturbance – whether out of the blue, like fires or explosions, or occurring more slowly, while being similarly transformative. The use of resilience in terms of the urban environment has come to take prominence over the discussion of sustainability. This could be partly due to the sense within the word (resilience) that ‘jeopardy’ is increasingly more likely than not. Sustainability suggests that ‘if we do this we might avoid disaster.’ Resilience is more realistic and says, ‘if and when disaster occurs, how well will we bounce back (Hollis)’ .
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