SARAH TOY

What I am working on at the moment

In my role as Chief Resilience Officer for Bristol (part of the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities initiative) I have spent the past 18 months working with a wide range of council and city stakeholders to develop a Resilience Strategy.  I started by posing the question – how we will ensure Bristol is a flourishing and resilient city in 50 years’ time? 

I am currently working very closely with the Senior Leadership team in the council and Mayor Rees and his political adviser Kevin Slocombe to position the Resilience Strategy so that it will help deliver the Mayor’s vision for a more equitable city in which no one will be left behind.  Tackling the impacts of climate change and building social cohesion across all parts of the city are central to achieving this vision.

Why I wanted to join the Participatory City Global Advisory

On learning about Participatory City (via the Bristol CityMart social cohesion challenge) I was immediately struck by the potential to bring about real and lasting change at a city scale through the combined power of many small things happening at a micro level.  Participatory City has developed and tested a really exciting and scalable approach to convening the power of the individual to change their world for the better.  I believe that this approach – which replaces or bypasses much of the traditional local government structure for community engagement – can provide an agile, cost-effective way to fill the gap that is being creating by austerity measures in our cities.  From a resilience viewpoint, I love the fact that Participatory City can demonstrate a positive impact on such a wide range of neighbourhood metrics from wellbeing to social cohesion and carbon reduction and life-long learning.  Whilst I have not yet found a way to bring PC to Bristol, I am convinced that it has a role to play here. I hope by joining the Advisory Board that I can continue to learn from you and be inspired to find a way to implement this in Bristol.  I would also like to share learning from PC with many cities around the world via the 100 Resilience Cities network.

A little bit about Sarah's background

Sarah is a chartered civil engineer with 25 years’ experience working in the public, private, not-for-profit and academic sectors. 

Through her career Sarah has worked on a wide range of infrastructure projects from motorways to cycle lanes and flood defences to low cost water and sanitation systems in Africa, Asia and South America. Many of her roles have involved building multi-disciplinary teams with engineers, public health experts, community development specialists and economists to work across traditional boundaries and achieve common goals such as improved population health. She is very interested in how people’s daily lifestyle choices can be positively influenced through a combination of hard (physical) and soft (social marketing) measures.

Sarah has lived in the city of Bristol for 12 years. Before her appointment as Resilience Officer for Bristol City Council in February 2015 she was the Head of Smarter Choices for the UK sustainable transport charity Sustrans and prior to that she worked as a Sustainable Development specialist in the consultancy Arup.