Putting Down Roots
I’VE BEEN LIVING IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA FOR THE PAST SEVEN YEARS. But this autumn marks
the first time I feel like I’m finally establishing myself as a permanent member of my community.
Let me explain. After many years in New Haven, I bounced
around New York for a few years before making my way down
the Eastern Seaboard to the D.C. area. Arlington, Alexandria,
and now Springfield—these towns had their charms, to be sure,
but they didn’t feel like home to me. It took two small actions
to achieve that milestone.
The first was joining a choir, of all things. I sang extensively
in college, but the realities of a new career and then a busy family calendar forced me to give up this pastime. But now that my
youngest is 2 years old, my wife has graciously agreed to handle
home duties one night a week, affording me the opportunity
to sing jazz standards and Eastern Orthodox liturgical selections with like-minded singers. The chorale gives me a sense
of belonging, of harmony (if you’ll excuse the wordplay)—we’re
all in it together, working to make music and forge friendships
as a community.
The other recent action that has given me a sense of establishment was attending a fundraiser for my local public library
system. I’ve always appreciated the programs that public libraries have sponsored, but it took seeing firsthand the nascent
joy of reading in my eldest son to compel me to get involved
with supporting these programs. The nature of learning is
changing, and libraries can and must adapt to remain relevant
in a digital world. The fundraiser we attended will support
such programs, and I plan to remain active with this body to
help shape the programs and supports in the coming years.
The features in this issue of Contingencies discuss this sense
of community in various ways.
In “Resilient Communities: Standing Up to Mother Nature”
(page 36), Julie Rochman of the Insurance Institute of Busi-
ness and Home Safety explores the steps communities can
take to ensure stability amid natural disasters. From retrofit-
ting existing structures to strengthening building standards,
community and business leaders can take actions now that will
help individuals and businesses prepare for extreme weather
events—and to bounce back quickly if they are damaged when
Our cover story this issue, “Rising Tides” (page 28), also
discusses natural disasters and the steps we can take to mitigate the effects thereof. Sea levels are rising. This reality is
already having a profound effect on coastal communities, and
extreme weather events like hurricanes or tsunamis have the
potential to wreak havoc on these areas now and in the near
future. Author Rade Musulin explores how the casualty market
could respond to these growing threats, and lays out the steps
we can take now to lessen the impact of rising sea levels many
years in the future.
Health care professionals, communities, and families are all
vital stakeholders in “End-of-Life Care in a Changing World”
(page 42). This wide-ranging survey examines the many considerations involved in policy and personal discussions around
this important topic. By studying how various countries attempt to address care at the end of an individual’s life, these
stakeholders can make more compassionate, informed decisions as the health care environment undergoes changes in
response to shifting demographics and changing legislative
and regulatory environments.
Finally, “Communicating Longevity Risk: More Things to
Think About” (page 54), the second in a two-part series by
Liaw Huang and Tom Terry, lays a foundation for understanding the many types of longevity risk. Especially as individuals
live longer after retirement, policymakers and insurance companies alike need to use common language to discuss solutions
and products to address these needs.
From neighborhoods to nations, we are largely defined by
the communities we belong to. I hope the features in this issue of Contingencies offers you new insights about how those
communities engage the world.
Inside Track ERIC P. HARDING