Many people think of a community’s resilience as its ability to “bounce back” from disruption, and efforts to build resilience often focus on the impacts of climate change. Climate change is indeed an urgent and existential threat, with untold potential to destroy and disrupt countless lives. But it is not the only crisis we face, nor is preparing for disruption the only way to build resilience. Truly robust community resilience should do more. It should engage and benefit all community members, and consider all the challenges the community faces—from rising sea levels to a lack of living wage jobs. And it should be grounded in resilience science, which tells us how complex systems—like human communities—can adapt and persist through changing circumstances.
Resilience is, in a way, the original aspiration of human communities. Since the dawn of civilization we have banded together for long-term mutual well-being and betterment in the face of future stresses and shocks. History is full of communities—even highly complex ones—that persisted for thousands of years: they found ways to be resilient despite natural disaster and internal discord, embedding their wisdom and practices in place-based cultures. Of course, history is also full of communities and civilizations that succumbed to external or internal crises, often far larger than they had any possibility of anticipating. While we should heed the warnings of that history, we can also consider ourselves fortunate in the modern era to have a broader view of what crises we might face, and access to countless examples of community resilience both ancient and contemporary. Six Foundations for Building Community Resilience aims to help us better understand what made those examples successful, and help existing and future resilience-building efforts across the country be more effective.
Read the full report HERE.