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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities - Michael Hancox EPISODE 91
Disaster Recovery Activist
00:00:00 00:24:43

Disaster Recovery Activist


Disaster Preparedness, Recovery, and Resiliency for Smaller and Rural Communities

In This Episode:

[01:37] Guest Laura Clemons is introduced.

[01:44] Laura tells how she became interested in community resiliency and disaster work.

[02:50] Laura explains the difference between an advocate and an activist.

[04:24] Laura describes how individuals may be able to help after a disaster.

[07:36] Laura talks about how to mobilize people, before disaster hits, to develop a more resilient community.

09:23 Laura shares how to communicate to people that they have the ability to create networks of resiliency.

14:13 Laura states where people can go to learn about her diagnostic tool and her work.

[18:59] Laura expresses how to intervene in the division between urban and rural.


Kif Scheuer is the Climate Change Program Director at the Local Government Commission (LGC). Kif is a solution-oriented sustainability professional with a strong history of engaging diverse audiences in real-world climate protection efforts through innovative, market-focused research and analysis, creative program design, effective project implementation, and compelling public advocacy and education. In 2013 Kif organized the first California Adaptation Forum, which attracted over 800 attendees and served to kick start the statewide conversation on adaptation. Kif led the development and growth of one of the LGC’s key coalitions – the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation, a statewide network focused on addressing adaptation at the regional scale.

Guest and Organization:

Laura Clemons is the founder and CEO of Collaborative Communities Management Company, LLC, (CCMC) and serves as the company’s head project team leader. Ms. Clemons is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty designation in Building Design and Construction and has been working in the sustainable built environment since 2008. She transitioned into disaster recovery after the devastating tornados of April 2011 and has combined her diverse background into being a foremost expert on resiliency.  

She has been working with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) since 2014 on a comprehensive approach to Hurricane Sandy recovery that is designed to protect over 350 acres of Sandy damaged NYCHA property from increasing climate change risks including storm surge, sea level rise and rain inundation. Her strategy for stormwater management is that it be achieved through creative land re-engineering to maximize perviousness and drainage while embracing Placemaking. Currently she is invested in helping flood ravaged communities across Texas and Louisiana rebuild in a safer, more sustainable way. 

CCMC is based in Austin, Texas but works with clients across the U.S. They provide a range of local constituencies with logistical support for environmentally sustainable and socially conscientious community revitalization in both pre- and post-disaster scenarios. CCMC serves in both a consultative and project management role ensuring that all project participants operate on budget and schedule and that the client gets a project with multiple co-benefits.

CCMC was created because of the widely acknowledged need for hands-on, focused coordination of various groups involved in creating projects and programs that benefit communities. They approach holistic resiliency solutions through partnership building and collaboration. They have a sensitivity to diversity and inclusion with special attention paid to the most vulnerable populations.

Take Away Quotes:

“What I really focus on when I talk to people—whether it’s at conferences or it’s with clients that I meet with in a post-disaster situation or just neighborhoods that want to try and be better—it’s about personal activism and figuring out how you can unleash your inner activist. Find the things in the world that you can change and figure out who the other people are that feel the same way that you do, connect with them, and find your tribe, expand your tribe, include more people, and then it turns out that big changes can happen at the individual level.”

“I think that a lot of people in rural communities and small towns are very used to doing for themselves and then their neighbors. We’re fairly resilient in that way and taking care of each other and sort of springing to action when something needs to be done.”

“These networks just started springing up because there were a lot of people like me: we’re not trained to be first responders or disaster recovery experts; we assume that there’s someone that knows how to do this. The truth is, it’s just about doing it and figuring it out as you go.”

“When I use the term ‘expand your tribe,’ what it simply means is, if there’s something that you don’t understand, that you’re suspicious of, or that you’re scared of—maybe you even have legitimate reasons to be scared of it; more times than not, you don’t have a legitimate reason—it’s ‘cause you’ve heard something from somebody or you saw something that led you to believe, but it’s not about your firsthand experience, take your fear and convert it to curiosity, and that’s the first step.”


Collaborative Communities Management Company, LLC 

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference – February 1-3, 2018