live / 2018

Los Angelenos Resilient in the Face of Natural Disasters

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by Team Rubicon

At Team Rubicon, disasters are our business and veterans are our passion. We unite the skills and experience of our nation's military veterans to provide efficient, local, and rapid disaster relief.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

The frequency and cost of natural disasters has steadily increased the past 40 years. Los Angeles’ ability to react to the changing nature and magnitude of disasters will impact our community’s future. FEMA estimates every $1 invested in disaster preparedness saves an average of $4 in future losses, protecting at-risk populations and fostering resiliency. Team Rubicon’s Resilient Cities Initiative will build volunteer capacity, training and equipping Los Angelenos to respond to local disasters.

Which of the live metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard
  • Rates of mental illness
  • Resilient communities

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Digital organizing or activism
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to live?

Team Rubicon utilizes technology to effectively provide relief to the most vulnerable populations during a disaster. A recent review of studies on the relationship between poverty and disasters in the U.S. by Fothergill & Peek revealed that socio-economic status is a significant predictor of the physical and psychological impacts in the pre- and post- disaster stages. Using a platform developed by Palantir, Team Rubicon maps neighborhoods that are most vulnerable from a socio-economic standpoint by overlaying tax records, insurance information, and census data. In many cases these communities lack the tax-base to provide professional, community based disaster services, or are overshadowed by wealthier areas impacted by the same disaster. Within urban areas, Team Rubicon’s focus is often on communities of color and non-native English speakers. These communities are disproportionately impacted by disasters, lack the personal or community-based resources to fend for themselves, and cannot agitate for government support as effectively as their affluent neighbors.

Team Rubicon’s Resilient City Initiative will create greater volunteer density in Los Angeles, training local residents to provide disaster relief. Our initiative tackles three pressing issues: Los Angeles’ preparedness for and ability to respond to disasters; the challenges of veterans reintegrating into our communities; and the lack of civic engagement in local communities today. The recently released Veterans Civic Health Index reveals veterans consistently outperform civilians in volunteer hours contributed and are more apt to work with neighbors to fix community problems.

Leveraging the power of the military’s diversity can help our country and city heal and respond in new (yet proven) ways, bringing a new sense of social cohesion to Los Angeles. The military is one of the most diverse institutions on the planet today. However, most veterans return to their less-diverse origins upon discharge and the value of inclusion and understanding dissipates over time. Yet, if inspired to come together once again in service, engaging and empowering veterans builds bridges across the divides that are tearing at the fabric of our country.

Team Rubicon believes that Los Angeles County’s veterans can and should be a force of change to help those most vulnerable. According to the USC School of Social Work: Los Angeles County Veterans Study, California is home to over 1.8 million former service members, with approximately 12,000 military veterans settling in Los Angeles County every year, joining the 325,000 veterans who currently reside here. One in five veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress and over two-thirds report difficulties adjusting to civilian life. Team Rubicon seeks to merge veterans’ military identity with civilian life by establishing a community network of volunteers supporting communities affected by disaster in Southern California.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to live

Team Rubicon aims to increase civic engagement in Los Angeles.

Team Rubicon developed a training pipeline to guarantee professionalism, consistency, and safety on operations by training to nationally developed standards.

In order to maximize effectiveness in disaster response, Team Rubicon regularly engages and trains our volunteers in between disasters. Engagement is any activity planned and executed by Team Rubicon personnel that convenes volunteers for an activity. Team Rubicon has recovery and mitigation operations, as well as robust training initiatives to prepare our volunteers through continued engagement. In addition to trainings, Team Rubicon offers a variety of volunteer-led regional and local engagements that are specifically designed to increase the quality, quantity, and frequency of volunteer interactions.

Maintaining safety and providing quality training and engagement for our members is a top priority. Our Field Operations Team, which is comprised of Response, Membership, and Training, does a phenomenal job on the ground when disasters strike and in the time between deployments to train, engage, and coordinate interaction with volunteers from signing up to deploying.

Team Rubicon utilizes a number of cloud-based technologies to achieve our stated mission. The organization’s growth is based on the continual evolution of the needs of our volunteer base and the communities we serve.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

Team Rubicon understands the value of collecting both qualitative and quantitative data when conveying the impact of our programs on the community. We measure our impact two ways: impact we have on the communities experiencing a disaster and impact on the lives of our volunteer members. Metrics we regularly track include number of training competitions, training events, deployments, volunteers deployed, days deployed, hours logged, damage assessments conducted, and work orders completed.

Team Rubicon will measure Los Angeles’ community resiliency by number of trained volunteers in the area. To best measure resiliency in Los Angeles, Team Rubicon developed the concept of “Community Resilience Units” (CRUs). Community Resilience Units contribute to Team Rubicon’s goal to recruit, organize, equip, and train veteran-led relief teams who will respond, in coordination with emergency officials, to natural disasters that strike Southern California. Another goal of building volunteer capacity in the Los Angeles area is to better integrate returning military veterans with their families in Los Angeles, empowering them through their volunteerism.

In addition to saving lives and property, investing in resilience and readiness helps families, communities, and local economies recover faster in comparison to cities that are under-prepared.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

Team Rubicon strives to recruit and train thousands of new volunteers in Los Angeles and throughout the country. By focusing on localized preparedness, we hope to build more resilient communities that will be prepared for disasters whenever they strike. Team Rubicon’s ultimate goals are to empower volunteers to responsibly and cost-effectively respond to disasters, serve vulnerable communities affected by disasters, and create a more resilient Los Angeles.