Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities

Infinite Earth Radio is a weekly podcast produced by Skeo and the Local Government Commission and hosted by Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller-Travis. Each week they interview visionary leaders, dedicated government officials, savvy businesses and forward thinking individuals who are working to build smarter, more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities through social and economic inclusion that values the contribution of all citizens and seeks meaningful lives for everyone. You will discover new leading edge strategies for lifting up and building great 21st century communities, along with cutting edge strategies for revitalizing under resourced communities and empowering excluded populations. Smart Growth, Prosperity and Sustainability are not possible without social, civic, and economic inclusion for people of all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.
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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities


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Apr 20, 2017


Expanding the Conversation of Community Resiliency

In This Episode:

01:50 Co-host Kif Scheuer is introduced.
01:54 Guest John Zeanah is introduced.
02:05 John shares how he became involved in community resiliency
04:20 John explains what he thinks the word resiliency means.
05:31 John informs how communities across and within jurisdictional boundaries are responding to resiliency.
09:58 John relates the kind of conversation that takes place within the community he works in.
14:40 John comments on energy-cost burdens and how costs are factored into response strategies.
18:09 John tells if resiliency is just another word for disaster preparedness.
20:29 John addresses how to have the conversation of investing money for the benefit of something that won’t happen, like a flood.
23:28 John identifies the pieces of his plan that will continue beyond the grant.
27:07 John mentions how people can look at his plan.


John Zeanah is the Deputy Director of the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development. In this role, Mr. Zeanah assists the direction of planning functions including land use, comprehensive planning, sustainability and resilience, transportation, housing, and development services. Prior to this role, Mr. Zeanah served in the roles of program manager and administrator for the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability, coordinating various program areas including energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, green infrastructure, and sustainable food systems. Recently, Mr. Zeanah led the development of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan, a unified vision for a regional network of green space connecting across the Greater Memphis area, and Shelby County's Greenprint for Resilience initiative, which received over $60 million in HUD's National Disaster Resilience Competition. Mr. Zeanah holds a BA in Political Science from Rhodes College and a Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of Memphis.

Take Away Quotes:

“I think the evolution of resilience is pushing people to think beyond just, how do you bounce back from a flood, or how do you build back from a hurricane, but also as you’re building back, as you’re bouncing back, how are you doing that in a way that’s addressing so many of the social and economic issues that your community may face.”

“I don’t know that the way that we’ve thought about disaster preparedness as a practice has taken in, at least to the degree that we’ve seen in the last few years around resilience, this concept of focusing on co-benefits, focusing on the multiple benefits, and ensuring that what we do around a preparedness initiative or project in a community has benefits throughout the year.”

“My advice for any community out there is think about when you have a disaster, whether it’s a flood or something else, what are the systems that have to get in place to be able to prevent damage from happening? What are the cleanup efforts that have to take place? What’s the dollar value of those things?”


Learn More about Shelby County’s Resilience Efforts

Resilient Shelby – Resilience Plan

Shelby County Planning and Development

Mid-South Regional Greenprint