Community-led recovery after the Grenfell Tower fire. Flora Cornish
How can a community produce positive change as part of its post-disaster recovery? And can university-community collaborations contribute to empowering locally-owned recovery stories? The Grenfell Tower fire, in June 2017, devastated a West London community. It is widely accepted that community groups and individuals took leadership of the response to help their neighbours in the first hours, days, and months of uncertainty as the state assessed matters, apologised, set up processes, progressively lost local legitimacy, preserved core functions and insulated itself from damage. The ramifications of that situation are still unfolding.
Using a model of community-engaged research, Flora is currently researching community authority relations in the aftermath of the disaster through a 2-year ethnography and interview study, and an experiment in ‘public social history’, working collaboratively to produce locally-authored stories of recovery. Grounded in respect for the community’s role in producing its own recovery, the project aims to contribute to understandings of community resilience for future disaster responders, and to academic understandings of mechanisms of social change and stasis.
The project has begun as a knowledge-exchange project, marshalling materials with which to build accounts of the process of recovery from different points of view, collaborating with community members on their own stories of recovery, as a foundation for developing academic versions. The project also enables knowledge exchange with emergency management professionals and policy makers in the interest of improving the environment for community-led disaster response and recovery. It is funded by a grant from LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact.