Technology, Community, and the Polar Vortex

By Briana Mitchel (’19)

The polar vortex that happened in the Midwest has been in our daily conversation. It was not something expected or want to experience again! A polar vortex is  “A low pressure area—a wide expanse of swirling cold air—that is parked in polar regions. During winter, the polar vortex at the North Pole expands, sending cold air southward. This happens fairly regularly and is often associated with outbreaks of cold temperatures in the United States.” This was interesting to me because even though it is frequent, it’s just the first time I remember it’s been talked about so frequently.  For me, the polar vortex emphasized the importance of community when it comes to unexpected environmental experiences. During this time across my social media people were communicating to others where to find shelter if needed, how to get to places, as well as offering supplies. This kind of community allows for people to be aware of the different organizations that they can go to if they need help. The bond and conversation that is in place when times like these happen would be even more effective year round and over various topics.

The use of technology plays a big part when it comes to storms that may occur because it allows for a larger sense of community, as well as an exchange of goods and materials. Resilience is fundamental to the sustainability of a city, and I saw this through Facebook during the polar vortex. Being a part of various pages on the social media, I saw people asking for towing services, heating services, or just sharing with others where to get these resources if needed. Resilience is also important to those who may be secluded or an elder in the community. These are the people who are more likely to be harmed by the storm because of their lack of communication with others. By allowing for different circuits of communication open, it’ll prevent tragedies from happening with these people showing social sustainability. Sustainability has different realms, can be hard to define, and may be seen as scary to face. It can be showcased in various ways and I’m confident that when another polar vortex or snow storms happens, the Minneapolis community will not hesitate to help the people within it.