“Recovery from natural and other disasters does not depend on the overall amount of aid received nor on the amount of damage done by the disaster; instead, social capital - the bonds which tie citizens together – functions as the main engine of long term recovery.” Daniel Aldrich, 2010
CREW grew out of a community meeting in January 2014 that was held in response to recent weather events (July 2013 floods and December 2013 ice storm). It was assembled by CREW co-founder, Rita Bijons, a highly regarded environmental activist, and the City of Toronto’s Senior Environment Officer, Dave MacLeod. Representatives from 21 community-based groups attended.
People attending that January meeting agreed that in order to optimize the city’s scarce resources, an active and committed volunteer network would be invaluable in providing information and resources to help communities and residents prepare for future extreme weather. CREW Toronto helps to inform, educate and build that network as it connects Torontonians to resilience information, models and toolkits from many urban centres and creates City Ward Resilience Profiles.
Resilience is strongest in communities with robust social networks: CREW’s overall objective is to create City Ward Resilience Profiles that show where community resilience is either present, tenuous, or absent. CREW identifies and maps the people, institutions and businesses that become the go-to people and places during an emergency. These are the “shadow responders” who provide immediate services in an emergency such as evacuation, shelter, first aid, and food provision, and who contribute to rebuilding afterwards. CREW maps and connects the shadow responders and the official responders.