Faith Taylor, University of Portsmouth, UK @faithatron

We recently finished a short GCRF funded project called ‘Why we Disagree about Resilience’ (WhyDAR). WhyDAR aimed to bring an interdisciplinary team of artists, social and physical scientists together to open up a broader definition of resilience to natural hazards and create visualisations of this.

The motivation for the project came from the idea that the term ‘resilience’ is used in many national and international frameworks as a way to reduce the impact of disasters. Yet, resilience means very different things to different people, and is thus deployed very differently. For example, the resilience of an electricity network may be defined by the level of redundancy (how many alternative pathways the electricity can flow through if a cable breaks) whereas a psychologist may consider resilience as the ability to deal with challenging situations.

In the WhyDAR project, we worked in three informal settlements across three cities at risk of flooding: Cape Town (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya) and Manila (Philippines). In each city, we worked with artists and community members to define the facets of resilience most important to that community. For example, in Nairobi residents of Andolo said that objectivity and being treated fairly was important, whereas in Manila the idea of working together was key. Following the workshops, I had the job of trying to pin these concepts down onto a digital map to present to planners. This involved many late nights in hotel rooms trying to work out how concepts that span space and time, or disagreements about a place could be placed on the map. The outputs for Nariobi and Cape Town can be seen here: and use mixed-media (e.g., photos, videos, stories), social network maps and immersive 360 photo spheres with audio to communicate the complex facets of resilence and threats to resilience that each community experienced.

Compared to the more typical maps a planner or disaster responder might use (e.g., a map of the road network or a flood hazard map), people commented that placing real human stories on the map helped them to more deeply understand and retain in their memory what resilience meant to a specific community. We are now planning to take this work forward to create ongoing tools for communities and planners to use to work together for resilience planning.