The Center for Equity, Change, and Sustainability
In the aftermath of the May 2010 Floods in Nashville, local civic and religious leaders have been challenged to refocus attention on the enduring legacy of race and poverty in Nashville. While the floods did not discriminate, causing wide spread damage to neighborhoods throughout Davidson county and Middle Tennessee, statistics show that the impact of the flood weighs both heavily and unequally upon minorities and the poor.
While FEMA and other federal agencies work with local government, religious and civic organizations to assist in the recovery of flood victims, specific concern and attention must be given to the recovery of persons who were already disadvantaged because of discrimination, inequities in economics and lack of access to affordable housing. Despite efforts of government and local organizations, the 2010 floods heavily over-burdened those least able to withstand such an overwhelming assault and further exposed Nashville’s history of economic and housing disparities.
Economic inequities and marginal living conditions disproportionately increase the level of vulnerability for financially disadvantaged neighborhoods as it relates to the lasting effects of the flood disaster. As a result of the convergence of these forces, both social and natural, the ability to recover and rebuild is outside the reach of many, leaving these marginalized persons worse off. Governmental agencies and some Non Governmental Organizations at a minimum are often insensitive and ill-prepared to deal with the unique needs of the least of these among us.
To address these issues, there must be a long-term recovery strategy that will insure equity for all of Nashville’s citizens throughout the post-flood redevelopment process. The creation of a sustainable advocacy system will give voice to those who need to be heard but who often are not.
Thus, this proposal represents a coalition of efforts to form a Center for Change, Equity and Sustainability that will help guarantee that the citizens of North Nashville and other such areas, have a real and lasting opportunity to recover and thrive as a viable part of the larger Nashville community.
The North Nashville Flood Recovery Group, composed of local black churches, was a first responder to flood victims in the Bordeaux community. Beyond their initial efforts to assist flood victims in accessing the resources of FEMA and the American Red Cross, who provided emergency assistance such as food, water, clothing and cleaning supplies, it became evident that North Nashville flood victims are at a greater disadvantage than other Nashvillians in securing equitable policy decisions. What’s needed are fair policies that will close the gap between monies accessed from federal assistance and the actual cost of full restoration of their homes and lives.
As the maps are being redrawn to determine areas of risk that are defined as a flood plain or as a flood way, the most basic question must be answered for these historically disadvantaged citizens: “Should I, can I, rebuild or move on?”
Beyond this initial question is yet another query that looms large within our present scenario, “Will I be allowed to rebuild?”
One answer may be long term assistance provided with the structural supports necessary to overcome economic inequities that existed prior to the flood and were exacerbated as a result of the flood. An adequate response to this problem will require a coalition of effort and a shared obligation among all strata of Nashville that will insure full and fair treatment and consideration for these citizens.
The mission of The Center for Change, Equity and Sustainability is to continue building a coalition of civic, government and religious organizations for the establishment of a long-term advocacy system for the support and recovery of flood victims comprised of those from all parts of Davidson County who may be marginalized because of inequities due to race and poverty.
Through the institutional support of American Baptist College and the leadership of inter-faith groups, the North Nashville Flood Recovery Group proposes to establish at American Baptist College, The Center for Change, Equity and Sustainability in support of the anticipated long-term recovery for disadvantaged flood victims who will require a variety of additional services.
- To establish a coalition of inter-faith support that provides long-term assistance to disadvantaged flood victims throughout Davidson county.
- To provide access to educational and financial resources that will assist flood victims in making responsible and financially feasible housing decisions.
- To assist flood victims in navigating the bureaucratic mass of building codes and ordinances that will be encountered during the redevelopment and rebuilding process.
- To employ flood recovery case managers that will assist in the education and coordination of resources for flood victims.
- To provide an organizational framework to cumulate and disperse resources to the redevelopment of the affected areas.
- To provide mental health and therapeutic services for those traumatized by sudden, severe devastation and loss. American Baptist College’s Master’s Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling can act as the point of access into existing therapeutic services within the community. Referrals from the professionals at the college can assist those needing care in getting to the appropriate resources.