Tulsa Participates in 100 Resilient Cities Summit

Commentary by DEWEY F. BARTLETT JR.
Mayor of Tulsa

CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Tulsa’s crisis management efforts in the wake of the Moore and Joplin tornadoes have drawn interest from the Rockefeller Foundation and helped earn Tulsa a partnership with the 100 Resilient Cities. This photo is of the Moore tornado devastation.


Last December, Tulsa began its quest to become a resilient city and was accepted into the second round of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Challenge. As part of this elite group, we have the opportunity to share how our city has reacted to past storms and flooding, as well as to identify our resources, the plans we already have in place and the gaps we have to fill.

The City of Tulsa has always looked to help our neighbors in need. A great way to highlight our experience as a resilient city was with our crisis management efforts during the Moore and Joplin tornadoes, which immensely interested the Rockefeller Foundation.

In October, I had the opportunity to travel overseas to attend the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Leaders’ Summit in Bellagio, Italy. As mayor of Tulsa, I was joined by four other U.S. mayors from Berkeley and Oakland, Calif., Boulder, Colo., and New Orleans, La., along with 29 other mayors throughout the world. We collectively shared our experiences and knowledge and collaborated on implementing innovative solutions for natural disasters and social/economic issues.

I now have a better idea of the scope involved in being a resilient city. The Rockefeller Foundation wants us to be more involved in water-related issues, but our role is still being defined. As soon as it’s solidified, I’m confident of Tulsa’s remarkable opportunity to play on the world stage and serve as a regional leader among cities.

Some of the challenges our city faces here include the economy, public safety and infrastructure needs. Right now, sales tax is our city’s only source of revenue, which makes it difficult meeting basic needs for next year’s fiscal budget. However, with the support of the Oklahoma Municipal League and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, we’re looking at ways to diversify our revenues without raising taxes.

We’ve already begun Tulsa’s first engagement in its partnership with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). In September, we held a workshop for a diverse set of stakeholders from across city government, private sector, nonprofit, academia and civic groups to identify the city’s resilience challenges. We set a blueprint for engaging partners across sectors to equip Tulsa with the tools and resources needed to be more resilient.

As part of the 100RC, Tulsa will receive four types of support, including 1) Funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (), 2) Assistance in developing a resilience strategy, 3) Access to a platform of resilience tools/services to help design and implement our strategy, and 4) Membership in the 100 Resilient Cities Network.
I’m extremely pleased that Tulsa is a part of the 100RC. It will help us be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with the physical, social and economic challenges we face in the 21st century.

Updated 11-23-2015

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