Resilience– a term becoming more prominent in discussions of well-being and health – is the ability to adapt to and accommodate stressors and challenging situations. Also called the “bounce back factor”, resilience can be examined across different scales, such as the individual, community, and the environment.
The term resilience subverts typical ways of thinking about tragedy and stress as negative and destructive by flipping the language – instead of asking what went wrong, resilience asks what went right? How did the individual, community, or ecosystem adapt to, reintegrate, and grow? How can we utilize personal and community resilience for bigger social change, such as environmental activisim? Indeed, resiliency and its corollaries and synonyms of abundance, regeneration, replenishment, adaptation, relationship, collaboration, and community are the intent of permaculture*, the model on which The Resiliency Institute is based.
“Resilience is perhaps our most beautiful, miraculous trait” (AM Brown, Emergent Strategy)
What makes us, individuals and communities, resilient? Research has identified individual indicators of resilience, such as genetics and other biological markers that are, one their own, weak. However, one key concept when considering resiliency is relationship or community support, and not just breadth of relationships, but depth. Close, supportive, loving relationships allow for security and adaptive capacity. “When we are engaged in acts of love, we humans are at our best and most resilient” (AM Brown, Emergent Strategy) Resilient individuals make resilient communities and vice versa – bidirectionality and mirroring of parts to the whole, individuals to community.
To create resilience, we need self-care, earth-care, and community-care (see permaculture* definition). At The Resiliency Institute, we engage individuals and communities in these care concepts – resilient self-care and community care through our women’s circles and yoga classes, nature connection and earth-tending care through herbalism, edible wild plants, permaculture, and forest-bathing classes (people remembering their connection to nature and desiring to care for the earth is, itself, revolutionary), and collaborative efforts with similar organizations to bolster and support and nourish community abundance, such as Sustain Dupage, and the Theosophical Society.
We are approaching our 7 year anniversary at The Resiliency Institute. Anniversaries demarcate effort and encourage self-reflection. What has our organization done in 7 years? How have we changed and adapted? How can we regenerate and progress our vision, mission, and community offerings? How have we contributed to individual and collective resilience? – All self-reflection and organizational care at the workplace level to allow for resilience. And we are proud of our record. Classes, nature connection, community collaboration and abundance. Tiny revolutions** with a big reach. Thank you to those that have supported us – together, we can craft the resilient individuals and communities that will sustain us in the future.
*Permaculture is beyond the frequently used pseudonym of “permanent agriculture”. It is a holistic design approach for creating resilient systems for daily living practices (people care), land care, and community care. Permaculture involves working with nature rather than against, with the goal of creating abundance so that individuals and communities become producers rather than consumers. Permaculture has been described as “revolution disguised as gardening”
**‘Tiny revolutions’ was the theme of our Wild Woman Project Circles for 2019 . The idea was to create and foster tiny, individual acts of self-care, sustaining, whole ways of living that ripple out from individual to greater community. Harnessing our individual and collective resilience for well-being, health, and holistic ways of being is an abundant mode of existence that contrasts strikingly with the typical fixation on illness, dysfunction, and scarcity. In this way, resiliency is revolution – a circumventing of negative framing of disturbance, stress, and even tragedy into empowerment and the positive identification of flexibility and growth. Tiny acts that are actually big.
Brown, AM. Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. AK Press, 2017.
Southwick SM et al. Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: interdisciplinary perspectives. European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014, 5: 25338 – http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v5.25338
The Hive Podcast: Permaculture, Sustainability, and the Art of Frugal Hedonism with David Holmgren https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nathalie-nahai-2/the-hive-podcast
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Photo by Jana Blue Photography