Preserving Our Place: A Community Field Guide to Engagement, Resilience, and Resettlement

Created: 3/30/2021 -


Community is self-defined and complicated. This field guide does not define what a community is or is not, but it is intended for those communities whose lifeways are threatened by environmental change that has exceeded the carrying capacity of the community’s social and ecological infrastructure. The problem is more often defined as risks to infrastructure, but the loss of lifeways is not irrelevant. We suggest that social concerns must not be displaced in the face of risk, and that cultural continuation and survival is as important as infrastructure. In fact, supporting lifeways in communities with deep ecological connections could well have prevented the impacts now driving adaptation.

With these ideas in mind, we feel it is important to note that this field guide is based upon the principles that are deemed important to the people of Isle de Jean Charles. We recognize that each community may have their own principles and, as such, we feel it is necessary that the field guide be viewed as a support document for communities whose lifeways are tied to an ecosystem that is threatened, rather than viewed based upon its principles alone. Communities viewing this document may or may not be in geographic diaspora from long term environmental pressures as Isle de Jean Charles is. We demonstrate how the formation of a cross-boundary network was established to address these issues through a collaborative process designed to support the Tribal mission and vision. We hope that our work can be used as a resource for communities who feel that planning processes must account for the future preservation and regeneration of its culture and lifeways. In short, planning for the future need not come at the expense of a community’s culture and lifeways. As a result, we present our case study as critique, resistance, design, and a reimagining of social and environmental justice.

Published On


Adaptation Phase
Tribal / First Nation
Sector Addressed
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Increase organizational capacity
Coordinate planning and management
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Create/enhance resources and tools
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Managed retreat of built infrastructure, relocation of people/communities
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Culture / communities
Infrastructure damage
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Habitat/Biome Type
Sociopolitical Setting
United States