Working to Improve Community Resilience: Calling All Volunteers Interested in Mapping Flagstaff’s Food, Energy, and Water System

NAU Researchers leading the PLACE4FEWS Project are seeking citizen volunteers who would like to contribute to cutting-edge research in food, energy and water systems, community sustainability and emergency management of supplies.

The project is a partnership between the Center for Science Teaching and Learning and the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS) as a supplement to the FEWSION project, led by SICCS professor Benjamin Ruddell. The National Science Foundation provided NAU with a $463,000 grant to recruit citizen scientists to actively map and study local community food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) for the Flagstaff area.

PLACE4FEWS is designed to engage citizens in learning about, mapping, and engaging others in understanding the source-to-consumer pipeline of Food, Energy, and Water. This pipeline is critical—more critical than most people realize until it’s disrupted by natural disasters, winter weather or scarcity. Knowing where important resources like food, water and energy come from and how they get here will help plan for those disruptions.

In 2018, a first cohort of citizen volunteers and NAU students provided critical insight into the content and data collection methods while initiating conversations and contacts with representatives of the food, energy, and water sectors of the Flagstaff area. This led to the refinement of a process titled FEWSION for Community Resilience (F4R).

According to local F4R coordinator Sean Ryan, “Cohort 1 really helped us to slim down and refine the process and the content that may be most meaningful for communities like Flagstaff when engaging in a citizen driven process to map FEW Systems. By engaging in this project citizens will have the opportunity to map and learn about their personal FEWS, Flagstaff Community FEWS, and in what ways the community depends upon, or is linked to critical FEWS resources across the nation.”

All residents 18 years of age and older can participate in this unique project by helping provide answers to commonly asked questions: “Where does my food come from?” “How could we best restore resources in the case of an emergency?” or “What are sustainable choices we could make as a community?”

No special skills are required. Flagstaff area residents who work in the food, energy and water system fields are welcome to apply (i.e. grocers, utility operators, drivers, emergency responders), as are elected and unelected public officials and staff, college students, and citizens with an interest in food, energy, water, and improving community resilience.

Participants will spend about 80 hours over the course of the next 6 months in training workshops and follow-up meetings, collecting data, providing project feedback, and interviewing and engaging community members.

To apply, or for questions about volunteering with PLACE4FEWS, please contact Sean Ryan at Sean.Ryan@nau.edu / (928) 523-0990. The deadline to apply is January 30th. A welcome and orientation session will be held on the evening of January 30th.

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