Minnesota Narratives of Extreme Weather, Urban Runoff, and Climate Adaptation

Mae Davenport, Professor, Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota

Across Minnesota’s urban, rural and agricultural landscapes, exposure and sensitivity to climate change impacts and extreme weather vary. Scientists, natural resource managers, engineers and local officials have begun to assess community and ecosystem vulnerability and to develop targeted plans for emergency preparedness, infrastructure improvements, and ecological adaptation. However, much less work has been done to build community and social capacity to anticipate and respond to climate impacts. Empowering community members in high-risk regions has multiple, long-term benefits including increased individual motivation to act; strengthened social networks, social norm and identity development around sustainability; leadership and organizational development in climate readiness; and cross-sector programmatic coordination and resource sharing.

In this talk, I will explore multiple narratives of extreme weather, urban runoff, and climate adaptation emerging from social data gathered in Minnesota over the past 5 years. Analysis of these data suggests some significant opportunities as well as constraints for building community capacity to adapt to climate change in Minnesota. I will share key lessons from listening to multiple community voices and lead a discussion on potential strategies and tactics for place-based community adaptation.