Commissioner’s Column


esilience. It’s a word that’s been buzzing around our civic discourse a lot lately, and for good reason. In a world where the ground beneath our feet seems to shift with increasing frequency, the ability of our communities to not just weather the storm, but to bounce back stronger, is paramount. But here’s the thing: resilience isn’t just about individual fortitude or grit. It’s about systems, structures, and most importantly, collaboration. And when it comes to fostering resilience, local governments are the linchpin.

Local governments, in many ways, are the unsung heroes of our civic life. They’re the ones on the front lines, dealing with the nitty-gritty of city planning, infrastructure development and emergency response. They know their communities inside and out—their strengths, their vulnerabilities and everything in between. And it’s this intimate knowledge that makes them uniquely positioned to lead the charge in building resilience.

But let’s not kid ourselves: cultivating resilience is no walk in the park. It requires vision, coordination, and yes, extensive collaboration. Because here’s the reality: no city, town, or municipality exists in a vacuum. We’re all interconnected, bound together by shared resources, shared risks, shared opportunities. That is no truer than here in Allegheny County with 130 municipalities.

If we’re serious about building resilient communities where the next generation wants to come to raise their families, we need to start working together like never before.

Take a look around, and you’ll see plenty of examples of our local governments joining forces to tackle common challenges. Whether it’s mutual aid agreements between public safety departments, Medical Rescue Team South Authority, animal control, joint purchasing programs, financial management service agreements, facility management efforts, sharing best practices in planning, working with our school district partners, or forging partnerships with community organizations, collaboration remains the order of the day. These shared victories may often evade the spotlight, yet they’ve laid the foundation for the robust community we inhabit today. And let me tell you, when our local governments put their heads together, the results are nothing short of transformative.

But let’s not stop there. Because here’s the thing about resilience: it’s not just about bouncing back after a crisis hits. It’s about building stronger communities that can withstand whatever the future throws our way. And that means investing in resilience today, so that we’re prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.

That means investing in resilient infrastructure, from green spaces to sewer systems, that can stand the test of time. It means investing in buildings, parks and roads knowing that our investments will determine the quality of our communities for the next 100+ years. And perhaps most importantly, it means investing in our people—empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to weather the storms and come out stronger on the other side.

So where do we go from here? Well, for starters, we need to recognize that building resilient communities is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires patience, persistence, and a whole lot of collaboration. But if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that when communities come together to tackle common challenges, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

So let’s keep rolling up our sleeves, doing the hard work to build the resilient and vibrant communities of tomorrow—together.