A report from Democracy Collaborative considers how investments in the green infrastructure needed for climate resiliency can be leveraged to build community wealth with worker cooperatives and social enterprises. Creating climate-resilient cities takes more than a series of infrastructure investments; more than sea walls and permeable pavement. It takes investment in people. Those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change are those without living wages or access to political power—very often communities of color. Cities have recently integrated more green infrastructure strategies into their climate resiliency planning, which could be a key intervention point for applying the concept of community wealth building in practice. Harnessing nature’s innate ability to manage water, green infrastructure captures and diverts storm water before it reaches the sewer system through a strategically planned network of natural features, such as vegetation and soil. While green infrastructure’s primary function is to limit storm water runoff, its benefits, like more walkable communities and cleaner air, also have the potential to facilitate healthier, more prosperous communities—if done so intentionally.
By Johanna Bozuwa, Democracy Collaborative, March 2019