What is community resilience? How can you know if your community is resilient? Is there a relationship between resilience and justice? What resources have proven particularly useful in actually building resilience?

These are just a few of the questions we’re bringing to conversations with leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, organizations, and communities. Already, we’ve gotten some surprising answers and rich insights.

Please read, comment, and share. We’d love hear how the interviews inspire you.


There Is No Other Worthwhile Endeavor: Talking Resilience with Taj James

“It’s an interesting argument because whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic, there’s nothing really else to do right now. Whether you think we will succeed or fail in that endeavor, there is no other worthwhile endeavor. If you actually see the problem for what it is, it doesn’t matter whether you think we’re going to make it or not. If you have children, if you have any concern for human well-being, then we better get going here, and we better start moving a lot faster… ”

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Community is Created by Filling the Cup: Talking Resilience with Lynn Benander

“I think that if you haven’t built connections with other people when good things are happening, they probably won’t be there when bad things are happening. Community is created by filling the cup that you share with other people with good things, and so it’s celebrating accomplishments and joys, building things together, helping to raise each other’s kids…”

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Living Within a Limit is OK: Talking Resilience with Doria Robinson

“Limits are OK. Living within a limit is OK. Most artists will say that giving yourself limits actually stimulates creativity…. The culture we’re in now really encourages the idea that the optimum state is to have no limits. Like there is no such thing as carrying capacity, like, ‘”Come on! We can just invent our way out of a problem!” We could actually have more creativity, more ingenious real solutions with limits, within a carrying capacity. With, “I will impact someone else with my actions, and maybe I will decide not to do something, just because of the impact it may have. Or, do it in a different way.” ”

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Justice isn’t Inevitable: Talking Resilience with Ellen Choy

“Resilience is about putting those decisions about things that impact our daily lives and our basic needs, back in the hands of the people, so that they can figure it out themselves. It’s not just about this idea of bouncing back and surviving. It’s communities that have a relationship to the place they live in—to be able to build that relationship and to thrive in that. It’s really about relationships; it’s not about just individuals and the ecology that they live in. It’s the relationships we have to each other. ”

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Welcome to the Future: Talking Resilience with Chuck Collins

“Starting in the middle of January, we had four snowstorms where a total of over 80-90 inches of snow fell. So if you think about weird weather, strained infrastructure, fights over austerity and the role of government, neighbors helping neighbors but also a certain amount of stress and anger and scapegoating that also happened, well,…welcome to the future…. If this was the emergency resilience test, we’re not ready. ”

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We Have Enough Together: Talking Resilience with Vicki Robin

“The more you connect with other people the more their resources are in your problem-solving process. We have enough. We have enough together, but nobody has enough by themselves. ”

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Experiencing Traditional Community Resilience: Talking Resilience with Helena Norberg-Hodge

“There is definitely a sense of trying to repay a debt and I’m very, very, keen that that should happen. In terms of energy, that would mean rapidly helping to build up a renewable energy infrastructure, one that allows more human-scale cities and villages to flourish, rather than smart, green mega-cities. That’s the “corporate green” that we have to avoid. A decentralized model would be much, much, less expensive, and in a multitude of ways much more beneficial.”

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Powering Community: Talking Resilience with Timothy DenHerder-Thomas

“I think that there are some—both culturally rooted and I would ultimately say evolutionary and core—parts of human nature that are within us all the time, that are all about relationship and connection and community and building meaning and innovation and ultimately survival through interrelationship. I think people feel that and even though we have this cultural story that the individual and taking care of oneself is what it’s all about, most of the times that I see that people feel most happy and fulfilled are when they are in those social and communitarian situations, and we are doing things and building meaning—in communion with a broader network. ”

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What to Tell the Neighbors: Talking Resilience with Marissa Mommaerts

“We can’t have resilient communities if we don’t have justice. We’re only as resilient as those around us, whether that be our family, our neighbors, the neighboring community, or even the neighboring country. Right now there are many communities that are much more vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change and ecological and economic instability. As long as they’re vulnerable, no one else is secure…. ”

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Figuring Out Your Role: Talking Resilience with Sarah Byrnes

“It’s a broken system, that’s based on a broken form energy, and these are just some of the manifestations of it…. [And] also…there’s a million ways to intervene in this system. So that’s positive. You can fix this broken thing in a thousand different ways, and we need people working on all of those thousand different ways. The challenge is always what’s the particular role of an individual person or of an individual organization. The discernment process is something that everyone is working on, figuring out my role in this systems change. ”

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Building Resilience Through Daily Actions: Talking Resilience with Trathen Heckman

“People say, “We need systemic change,” and I definitely agree with that. Our thing is that right here—your self—is the most accessible whole system that you have. That’s the best way to effect change. It’s not just about changing light bulbs or doing your individual garden. It’s finding your voice and building power through the integrity of your daily actions, and then supporting others to do the same. ”

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Economy, Ecology, Equity: Talking Resilience with Nikki Silvestri

“I like looking at a community objectively, and just saying Economy, Ecology, Equity. Are all three of these pieces thriving? I actually feel like the Equity piece is where everybody fails. Everyone in America is failing the Equity piece. We’re unhappy. We turn on ourselves. We turn all of that animosity inward, and we divorce, and don’t like our kids, and we’re just screwed. ”

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