Building community disaster resilience through a virtual community of practice (VCOP)
Purpose: This paper aims to discuss a pilot in-progress project to promote community-based research (CBR) as a tool for disaster resilience planning in rural, remote and coastal communities. Using trans-disciplinary approaches, this project demonstrates how emergency and foresight planning in five rural Canadian pilot communities can be enhanced through the co-design of a pilot Web 2.0 "virtual community of practice" (VCOP). Design/methodology/approach: The VCOP initiative was designed with pilot and field site communities to facilitate knowledge generation and exchange and to enhance community resilience. Building a culturally appropriate disaster resilience process is an iterative "process of discovery" and community engagement. Through CBR the project supports practitioners and volunteers to share promising practices and lessons-learned for disaster resilience planning. Findings: The VCOP is being developed in five rural, remote, coastal pilot sites across Canada. Additional field site work is also underway in three urban centres sponsored by a project partner. This paper provides an overview of the initial concept, design and "proof of concept" work currently underway. The pilot project will end in the Fall 2012. Research limitations/implications: Inspired by the work of American adult educator Etienne Wenger, the VCOP entails co-design and co-ownership of a knowledge engagement process; one which enables local "thought leaders" to participate in emergency planning, preparedness, response and recovery. The VCOP provides a communication platform and fosters "foresight" planning and "education for critical awareness". Through the sharing of theory and practice, i.e. praxis, communities are mobilized and empowered to anticipate future risks and threats and plan for resilient recovery. Practical implications: The VCOP foresight planning paradigm challenges the status quo design and delivery of emergency management protocols from traditional "centres of knowledge and power", e.g. governments and universities and fosters "bottom-up" community-driven planning to anticipate risks and threats and help enhance local capacity for resilient disaster recovery. Originality/value: The novel application of a VCOP to disaster emergency planning is in keeping with the spirit and principles of UNISDR's Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. VCOP has potential to demonstrate disaster resilience "foresight" planning as evidenced in the adoption of promising ideas and practices developed by communities, for communities. As Louis Pasteur once said "Chance favours the prepared mind". © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.