Putting on a Resilience Lens: BoCo Strong Resilience Assessment for Boulder County

BoCo Strong uses this county-wide assessment to develop a shared vision of resilience and to better understand the steps that Boulder County, Colorado should take to build resilience. The report defines resilience, outlines a framework to assess if something is resilient, and reviews the challenges and opportunities to build resilience within six sectors: Community, Economy, Health and Social, Housing, Infrastructure, and Natural Environment. The report concludes with cross-sector and sector-specific recommendations to inform work, build partnerships, fill gaps, and increase capacity in the region.

The report presents resilience as a lens through which readers can view the world. The resilience lens consists of eight characteristics of people, institutions and systems: Able To Learn, Diverse, Flexible, Inclusive, Integrated, Redundant, Resourceful and Connected, and Robust yet Able to Fail Safely. Taken together, these characteristics help determine whether sectors and communities are more or less resilient.

This report argues that resilience does not imply equity. Instead, equity needs to be explicitly considered. When looking at policy, decision-makers should continually ask, “resilient for whom?”

A number of the opportunities identified in this assessment focus on better reaching frontline communities. For example, the plan identifies that emergency warnings are currently only available in English and more work needs to be done to reach Spanish speakers. It also stresses the importance of building social cohesion, fostering trust in government, increasing the diversity of county representatives, improving services for homeless people, supporting undocumented people, and more.


The sector-focused assessment is based on 60 in-person interviews with stakeholders across the county. These interviews were coded to better understand what were existing sources of resilience, and what more needed to be accomplished. Examples of recommendations from the Resilience Assessment according to sector include:

  • Community: Increase integration of building codes and land use policy across jurisdictions
  • Economy: Develop improved emergency assistance for small businesses
  • Health and Social: Increase access to mental health services locally and advocate for increased mental health action at the state and national levels
  • Housing: Increase mixed-use development tailored to local values and design standards
  • Infrastructure: Support and expand efforts to develop multiple power generation options and island-able power facilities
  • Natural Environment: Support local farmer livelihoods to preserve land in agricultural production and provide healthy local food


Publication Date: December 2016

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Karen MacClune

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


Go To Resource