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Establishing equitable solutions for extreme weather events in northern Virginia

Jeremy Campbell, Assistant Director for Strategic Engagement, Institute for a Sustainable Earth; Environmental Science and Policy,  received funding for the project: "Creating a Community of Research and Practice to Ensure Equity in Stormwater Management and Flood Resilience in Northern Virginia."

The climate crisis has begun to stretch researchers' ability to anticipate and respond to extreme weather events, but it has also revealed opportunities for rethinking how governments, researchers, and local communities collaborate to forge novel and equitable solutions to environmental management problems. In Northern Virginia, one of the nation's fastest growing and most ethnically diverse regions, the pace and severity of recent storms and flood events have led to a reassessment of models for planning, growth, and sustainability. As 1-in-100-year events now occur every few years, researchers realize that data-driven analysis must keep pace with events so that relevant and accurate research can inform regional planning efforts. Similarly, the clear environmental injustices associated with flood-prone areas in the region have led researchers to reassess how they imagine and pursue community outreach and participation. Though robust network collaborations already exist in Northern Virginia between sustainability and resilience managers—linking county, city, and regional initiatives on the regulatory and management side of things—the current moment calls for an expanded conversation.

Regarding the importance of the project, Campbell said, "By setting up a network of Mason researchers, local managers, and community champions, we achieve two things: 1) we’re sharing multiple knowledges and perspectives on flooding and the dangers posed by severe weather, and 2) we are exercising our resiliency muscles by identifying and implementing equitable solutions to the threats posed by the climate crisis." 

Campbell received $5,000 from the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network for this project. Funding began in December 2021 and will end in late May 2022.