Community Resilience Organizations (CROs) - A Pilot Program


Friday, June 26, 2015 - 12:00pm



Climate change. Superstorms. Power outages. Toxic spills. Fire. Our communities face ever-worsening disasters. Most towns have emergency response and hazard mitigation plans, but it’s impossible to anticipate everything. The best solution is to build resilience – the ability for community members to come together and solve whatever problems come their way. That involves work projects to lessen the impact of disasters, while also building self-reliance and stronger community connections.

Community Resilience Organizations (CROs) are local teams, appointed by the town legislative body, that engage residents and town leaders in tasks aimed to lessen losses via climate adaptation, disaster preparedness and hazard mitigation, while strengthening local collaboration and social cohesion. CROs build connections between the silos of passionate volunteers in conservation, emergency response and social services, bringing them together to build collaborative projects.  By  leveraging resources and gaining wider community participation, the impact is magnified. Through an annual Day for CROing, teams engage youth and the broader community to collaborate on critical projects that will make the town stronger and safer, while simultaneously including celebration to add fun and build community.

Join us to learn about this Vermont pilot project begun in six towns this year, and how it's working across a range of very different communities.
Peg Elmer Hough, AICP, is a veteran professional planner and environmental advocate with a 38 year track record of creating training materials and programs for state and local policy-makers, lay and professional, guiding land use in Vermont.  In 2012 she established CROs as its Principal, an organization that develops projects, finding the funding and partners, to smart growth, climate adaptation, community-building, community infrastructure and energy, and sustaining agriculture.  Prior to that she was Assistant Professor, Land Use Planning and Policy, and Associate Director of the Land Use Clinic at Vermont Law School.  Tropical Storm Irene sent the White River raging through her 200 year old home (NOT in the mapped floodplain), which has become a personal climate resiliency demonstration project, ready to survive the next 200 years.

Barbara Farr has been the Waterbury Long Term Community Recovery Director since January 2012, following Tropical Storm Irene. She also works part-time with a consulting firm, Armada, Ltd, on emergency planning, mitigation, recovery and accreditation standards since 2011.  Prior to that Ms. Farr was the Governor's appointed Director of Vermont Emergency Management from 2005 to 2011 and was involved in all aspects of emergency management at the local, state and federal levels. Ms. Farr has been involved in long-term recovery efforts and implementation following natural disasters since 1995 as the Executive Director of the Lamoille County Planning Commission (1985-2000).  Ms. Farr has a Masters degree in Environmental Law from the Vermont Law School.

Lori Hirshfield has been the Director of the Department of Planning and Development Services for the Town of Hartford since August 1996.  The Department is responsible for town-wide current and comprehensive planning, including zoning, land use, community and economic development, historic preservation, conservation, housing, energy, transportation and hazard mitigation.  Prior to coming to Vermont, Ms. Hirshfield worked in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. metropolitan areas.  She has a Masters in Community Planning from the University of Maryland, and thirty-seven years of community planning and development experience. 

Dylan Kreis grew up in the town of Hartford and has recently returned to the area.  He earned a BS in Forestry & Environmental Management from the University of New Brunswick and a MA in Sustainable Development: Policy Advocacy & Analysis from the SIT Graduate Institute.  Dylan has exstensive experience in the fields of forest fire management and renewable energy.