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The Role of the Cultural Arts in Post-Disaster Recovery

            Live Oak, Florida is a rural town in northern Florida that was first established in the 1870s as a railroad hub. But over the past several decades, the town had been experiencing a dramatic economic decline. To make matters worse, in 2010, tropical storm Debby struck and left a majority of the town flooded. Some areas were covered in up to 7 feet of water and sinkholes had developed throughout the downtown area. The aftermath of the storm left Live Oak with over $5 million in damages. Many of these repairs were covered by state and federal funds, but citizens wondered if this misfortune was an opportunity to renew their town beyond technical and construction fixes. This resource tells the story of the renewal of Live Oak, Florida, one that placed the community as the catalyst for change and used arts and culture as a tool for growth.

            In the wake of the flood, Live Oak decided to adopt an asset-based community development (ABCD) approach to spur redevelopment and bring life back to their community. With the help of a variety of partners and tools, including a CIRD workshop in 2013, Live Oak, as a collective community, was able to make genuine progress cultural and quality of life developments. This was done by increasing cooperation between business and government, providing for a variety of outlets for the public to engage in local politics, and creating a designated park for festivals and celebrations, among many other initiatives. Inclusive community planning and design is a path to making places that people care about, one that is reflected in the commitment to progress that people begin to see. In Live Oak, by giving the community a voice, they gave the citizens a reason to love the place they live in after a disaster.

            This document, entitled The Role of the Cultural Arts in Post-Disaster Recovery, was written by Michael Spranger, Randall Contrell, and Katherine Allen, all of whom are associarted with the University of Florida- Gainesville. It was presented in May 2016 at the 36th Annual Conference for the International Association for Impact Assessment.

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