Frequently Asked Questions

Sustainability refers to meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. Sustainability and resilience are closely connected.  Sustainability is about utilizing the resources you have taking innovative actions to achieve goals while minimizing negative environmental, economic, and social impacts. Sustainability considers long-term outcomes for your community to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same or greater prosperity and quality of life as existing generations. Resilience is about planning for potential future outcomes, such as disasters, population change, and economic market changes to prepare your community to successfully rebound from challenges and flourish. Sustainable resilience combines both long-term goals and asks communities to engage in efforts to prepare for the future while considering existing resource limitations and innovative approaches to solving community problems and growing community health and prosperity. Communities that are sustainable and resilient can confront changing conditions, absorb disturbances with flexibility, and utilize existing resources and local partnerships to achieve community goals without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Start with identifying your community’s strengths and weaknesses and look for growth opportunities. Based on your identification of opportunities for improvement and growth, consider looking at some of the best practices undertaken by peer communities that we’ve collected. You may get inspired by seeing successes of others.  Your community may be surprised to find how much it can benefit from adopting even simple sustainability and resilience strategies. Please contact us to explore opportunities to receive more in-depth and tailored assistance!

Partnerships can be a catalyst to a sustainable and resilient community, but the key is finding the right partners. Start by looking for partners within your local communities, such as community leaders, mayors, city managers, solid waste directors, water/wastewater plant managers, economic development leaders, sustainability directors, recreational leaders, recycling coordinators, educators, environmental organizations, or emergency management leaders. Then look at external partners, such as state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, health focused groups, and recreational organizations. These groups can offer collaboration opportunities tailored to your community's assessment priorities. Much more can be accomplished through partnerships; don’t be afraid to reach out to others and share your ideas and plans.

Sustainability and resilience are about finding a balance. We know that it’s cheaper to prepare in advance for challenges like natural disasters than it is to pick up the pieces afterward. Tennessee’s resources are limited; now is the time to prepare for how to conserve and carefully utilize our resources so that our children get to enjoy prosperity, too. Many activities that support sustainability and resilience can be undertaken at little to no cost and result in community savings. Too, sustainability and resilience take seriously working with community businesses and organizations to spread the costs and benefits. Our resources can help to identify potential partnership opportunities and potential businesses and organizations that can support your community in achieving its sustainable resilience goals. Finally, we’ve worked to identify existing grants, loans, and funding resources that can support capital intensive projects.

Communities of all sizes, households, and individuals can take steps to be more sustainable today while also better preparing for a resilient future. It’s important to know where you are before you can develop plans for where you want to go. Take stock of where your community stands and identify opportunities for growth. Start with the low-hanging fruit or simpler, faster successes, which can serve as a boost for community engagement and provide momentum for tackling the larger projects. Reference our repository of free resources to help inform baselining activities. Not sure where to start? Reach out to us to see how we can support you.

Sustainability and resilience promote local economic health, development of jobs, workforce development, and overall quality of life. In fact, many prospective employers are looking for resourceful and well-rounded communities with sound financial management, strong education systems, a healthy business environment, and access to features such as greenways, parks, and recreational options to locate their families and subsequently new jobs. Pursuing sustainability and resilience in your community could lead to new jobs in fields like composting, recycling, consulting, reused materials, circular economies, advanced manufacturing, innovation, and resilience and sustainability management. A co-benefit of investing in sustainability and resilience is the potential operational cost savings, often seen through decreased resource (energy, water) usage or output (waste) generation.

If we haven’t addressed a tool or resource that your community is interested in, contact us. We evaluated many resources that aren’t on our website and we’re always happy to look at new ones.



Jennifer Tribble