How to Build Thriving, Resilient Communities

Top image photo credit: Oak Terrace Preserve Block Party, North Charleston, SC

Even if someone wants to start moving toward a more resilient community, it's easy to get bogged down in the muck and mire of "Where do we start?" That's when it's good to turn to the Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC). Their five-part Building Thriving, Resilient Communities was put together from a multitude of sources who walked the walk before they talked the talk, so they know of what they speak. From initial research to actual lifestyle changes, here are some of TRCC's collected pearls of wisdom:

PART ONE - GETTING STARTED

  1. Online Resources. The Internet is a giant repository of information with answers to just about any question. Some of TRCC's recommended sites include Bioneers Media Center, Great Transition Stories, ShareableThe Oil Journey, The Shift Network, and Visualizing a Plenitude Economy.
  2. Publications & Films. Oftentimes seeing the possibility of a transition in words or images really helps bring it to life. Some of TRCC's go-to inspirations include The Abundant Community, Climate After Growth, In Transition 2.0, Pedagogy of the Poor, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, Sustainable World Sourcebook, and The Transition Handbook
  3. Trainings & Events. Nothing can replace actually talking one-on-one with people who have taken steps in their own communities. The four recommendations in this area are Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, National Bioneers Conference, Transition Launch Training, and Generation Waking Up’s workshops and trainings.


Photo credit: epSos.de

PART TWO - LIFESTYLE CHANGES

  1. Build community. Because relationships are a community's bedrock, plan a potluck or a block party and get to know your neighbors.
  2. Grow some of your own food. Whether you plant your own herb bed or break dirt on a community garden, growing your own food is rewarding in myriad ways.  
  3. Share and repair. You can go all the way and set up a tool library and a repair café, if your community needs those resources. Or you can just borrow, loan, and fix stuff in a more casual arrangement with your neighbors. To quote Rachel Botsman, "You don't need a drill, you need a hole."
  4. Minimize waste. 'Reduce, reuse, recycle' continues to be a worthy mantra. Add 'compost' to it and you're off to the waste reduction races. 
  5. Help keep wealth in your community. Spending your money locally keeps that cash flowing within your community, as does utilizing a local bank or credit union.
  6. Reduce home energy use. Insulation, clotheslines, energy efficient appliances and fixtures... all these things add up and contribute to your resilience.
  7. Conserve water. This is another area where reducing and reusing comes into play. Make sure you don't have water leaks anywhere; set up a greywater or rainwater harvesting system; and shorten your showers to achieve your conservation goals.
  8. Green your ride. Most people drive because of habit and convenience. But a little planning can go a long way in this area. Walking, biking, carpooling, and taking public transit may mean rethinking your commute, but they are huge factors in a resilient community.
  9. Build inner resilience. Don't forget to forge meaningful relationships with the people and the world around you.
  10. Join a Transition town or community resilience initiative near you, and start transforming your community!


Photo credit: Mosman Council

PART THREE - PRACTICAL PROJECTS

  1. Economy. TRCC has pulled together a number of practical guides and webinars to meet your objectives, including Guide to Going Local, Guide to SharingHow to Start a TimebankHow to Start a Tool LibraryReconomy, and Think Outside the Boss Manual.
  2. Energy. Because a community's energy resilience gets into public policy, TRCC looks to these three sources for the best information: Community Renewable Energy Webinar from Sustainable Economies Law Center, How to Start a Solar Co-op webinar from Center for a New American Dream, and Power from the People webinar from Post Carbon Institute, Transition US, and Chelsea Green.
  3. Food. Rethinking our food systems is integral to building resilient communities. Here are TRCC's top five recommendations: How to Host a PermablitzHow to Start a Seed LibraryRebuilding the FoodshedStart Your Own Food Rescue, and Your Community Garden: Tips for Success.
  4. Community & Society. In the end, it always comes back to the people, and the children, in particular. TRCC offers these thoughts: Compassion Games, a designated week of service; How to Start a Babysitting Co-op, a webinar from Center for a New American Dream; Summer of Solutions, a summer-long program for young people to develop projects that address social justice, economic instability, and environmental sustainability; and Transition Streets, a program for small, social groups to take effective steps toward sustainability. (And there's always the How to Share guide on Shareable for advice on just about everything else.)

PART FOUR - BUILDING A MOVEMENT: TOOLS FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION

Working together is, perhaps, the number one priority for the building of a resilient community, especially if you want it to thrive. Therefore, developing skills to effectively communicate and collaborate is imperative to success. To that end, TRCC suggests checking out Art of Hosting Trainings, Asset Mapping Toolkit, Community At Work, Community Resilience Toolkit, Community Strategic Visioning Workshops, Designing a Resilient Community, Effective Groups, Loomio, Open Space, and World Café.

PART FIVE - SHIFTING THE SYSTEM

  1. Best Practices & Policy/Legal Resources. When shifting toward a new paradigm, it's important to know about things like zoning laws and business models. TRCC recommends checking out sites and publications like CommunityCurrenciesLaw.orgCommunity-Wealth.orgDig, Eat, & Be Healthy: Guide to Growing Food on Public LandsInstitute for Local Self-RelianceOn the CommonsPracticing Law in the Sharing Economy: Helping People Build Cooperatives, Social Enterprise, and Local Sustainable EconomiesPolicies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders; and Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment
  2. Campaigns & Organizing. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, community organizing is as community organizing does. So, to help get all the ducks in a row, TRCC has gathered up a bunch of resources, including 350 Workshops Toolkit by 350.org; Democracy School by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund; the Most Amazing Online Organizing Guide by Green Memes; and Thrive Hub Organizing Guide from Generation Waking Up. 
  3. Mapping. Knowing what you have and what you want to do with it is yet another important part of the planning process. Here are some TRCC suggestions on that front: Community CommonsDreaming New MexicoGetting Your Green-Collar JobGuide to Developing an Energy Descent Action Plan, and Regional Calculators for Local Investment and Job Creation.
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