re•sil•ience, noun.

The capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

In 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation launched The 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge (100RC). The challenge was designed to support a network of 100 cities with financial and logistical guidance for developing a resilience strategy, appointing a Chief Resilience Officer, and accessing solutions and partners. We’ve partnered with 100RC over the past four years to evolve their digital strategy, and today, the organization has staff and offices in New York, London, Singapore, and Mexico City to support work in cities across regions.

Last week, nearly 500 urban resilience leaders from cities around the world gathered in New York City for the 2017 Urban Resilience Summit, the largest convening of urban resilience experts in history. Nearly all of the cities in the network (plus a ton of other resilience thought leaders and partners) came together to share ideas and innovations from their cities, and collaborate on new solutions to challenges like earthquakes, floods, chronic food and water shortages, endemic violence, high unemployment, and more.

This summit represented the beginning of a movement to create a more resilient future for all cities, everywhere — not just the 100 in the room. This was a closed, invite-only event with limited opportunities for outside participation, but it was also a huge moment for the organization. It was the first time they had brought together their entire network and convened supporters in the urban resilience space.

To drive awareness of the summit, we aligned on the concept of “Resilient Cities for Every City,” making the event relevant to people outside of the room and giving them a lens for participation. Using the format of a digital postcard, we kept the ask relatively easy to complete, and kept their responses concise. We chose bright, hopeful, clean photography for the postcards, and messaged this as the beginning of a conversation with resilience leaders at the summit.

Our goal was to receive 100 submissions — but after one email, we received 2,670 personalized postcards from 143 countries. People from as far as Tehran, Kampala, Nagpur, Dhaka, Guadalajara, Kolkata, and Berlin wrote in with complex, nuanced, and positive solutions. The ideas ranged from esoteric (“Human connection and connectivity”) to practical (“a dengue-free city”), representing the broad scope of the field of resilience and the passion of practitioners worldwide.


Sometimes it’s worth it to ask people to complete higher-barrier actions. When you have an audience as engaged and passionate as 100RC’s — and a moment as perfect as the Summit — increasing the barriers to action can actually help a campaign feel more powerful and authentic.

Check out our Storify recap of the 100RC Summit here.

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