Build a More Resilient, Connected Community
A few years ago, Macalester College, the City of St. Paul, the Science Museum and the Jefferson Center undertook a joint project to educate ordinary people in several St. Paul communities about the realities of climate change. After people really understood the issues, they were asked what they considered to be the most important things their communities could do to prepare for what lies ahead. Several communities said: “Know our neighbors.”
They were on to something. Researchers have found that communities with strong social ties do better after a disaster. They allocate recovery resources better and they are more able to bounce back. Socially connected communities are more resilient.
We don’t have to hope people will pull together when we need to. There are things we can do today to build stronger, closer social connections. If a weather emergency never comes; those relationships will still yield positive benefits every day in terms of longer, healthier and happier lives.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is a personal and a community quality that helps people withstand adversity and move forward in the face of uncertainty and challenges. Everyone has a level of resilience; but it’s also something we can develop.
Resilience brings together hard work, skill, creative thinking, adaptability and commitment. What does resilience look like? We can look to our grandparents and great-grandparents to see examples:
- Victory Gardens – some 15 million of them – produced 40% of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. during WWII.
- Black communities developed collective, cooperative financial systems outside of the exclusionary white systems.
- Immigrant communities (like the Sons of Norway) created hardship funds to help families after an illness or death.
Resilience can be building redundant systems to meet critical needs, like community gleaning projects and farmers markets, solar panels and microgrids, cooperatives, time banks, sharing circles and seed banks.
How Do We Build Resilience Today?
Many of the activities of Transition groups listed on this website are examples of building resilience. It’s at the heart of the Transition movement. See the list of activities. It’s rather impressive. And take a look at what Transition Town groups are doing around the country at Transition US – and around the world with the Transition Network. The website Resilience.org, from the Post-Carbon Institute, is another excellent place to look for actionable ideas. They are the creators of The Resilience Reader, shown above.
And check out Resilience resources for personal action steps and organizations working in Minnesota and nationally that can help you.
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