Community Resilience

Large or small, urban or rural, communities today face many challenges. How does a community sort out all at once the impacts of economic volatility, land scarcity, an aging population, growing poverty, rising energy costs, and climate change? How do we decide what is most important given our community’s assets and challenges? How do we mobilize ourselves to respond as a group, as well as individually?

Resilience - the ability to respond and adapt to change creatively and collaboratively - may be the most important quality a community needs to deal with today’s uncertainty. Unless a community develops a capacity to assess, learn, adapt, and innovate all the time, it won't do well in the future that is coming at us. It won’t thrive (or perhaps even survive) unless it is resilient.

But what are the signs of a resilient community? A resilient community is …

  • A “can-do” community. The people are open to new ideas, to learning and to diversity. They co-operate with each other to make things happen.
  • A learning community. The people have assessed the threats and opportunities ahead of them, created a vision, and identified priorities and plans to get there. The vision considers social, economic and environmental health. Organizations and local governments co-operate with each other to take action and to assess and learn from their progress.
  • A caring community. Part of the planning and action ensures that those most in need continue to get access to essential services such as food, housing, water, and energy.
  • A self-reliant community. The community is strategic in how it works to diversify land use, food production, community services, business, and labour market skills. Local ownership of land, investment capital, and business – is a priority.

“If we want to thrive, we need to move from a growth imperative to a resilience imperative”
(Thomas Homer-Dixon)

CCCR’s Approach

Resilience is not something you fix. It can be learned or developed. Communities can strengthen the attitudes and behaviours characteristic of resilience.

  • One way CCCR does this is through the Transition Town model. It is useful for communities that want to animate grassroots organizing and action to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and respond creatively to climate change. CCCR is seeding this international movement in Canada and helping it grow through an accredited staff member who delivers a 2-day Transition Town Workshop.
  • A second way is through training and coaching people in the application of the Community Resilience Manual. The first part of this publication, The Guide, explains the 23 characteristics of resilient communities and the steps to take if you want to assess and strengthen your resilience. The second part, The Workbook, provides data collection forms, survey tools, sample invitations, and other resources to support your resilience process. This resource has been used by several communities and regions in several countries over the past ten years to assess their resilience and organize for community-wide action. Find out more.

Resources We Recommend

What's the venue for your use of indicators? A social enterprise? A development corporation? A community-wide revitalization strategy? As two outstanding U.S. projects demonstrate (one from the neighbourhood level up - the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership - and the other from the state level down - the Oregon Benchmarks), at whatever scale you intend to apply indicators, five tasks... Continue reading: Indicators At Work ...
The economic history of Tillamook County is not much different from that of other areas heavily dependent on resource industry. Development pressures, declining natural resources, a shift to a lower wage service economy based on high income in-migrants and general economic uncertainty and instability have converged to present citizens of the county with challenging decisions. Their response has... Continue reading: Tillamook County, Oregon ...
The Tamarack Institute is an organization dedicated to developing and supporting collaborative strategies through which citizens and institutions take on major community challenges, especially poverty reduction. Tamarack also hosts an ongoing process through which these Vibrant Communities can share and learn from one another’s experience. Continue reading: Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement ...
The Resilience Alliance is a research organization that explores the dynamics of social-ecological systems in order to learn more about resilience, adaptability, and transformability. Its results provide a foundation for sustainable development policy and practice. Continue reading: Resilience Alliance ...