Community Resilience – Fun, Diversity and Connection #28 #cong19


This paper explores the concept of community resilience as it has developed a number of knowledge areas as diverse as psychology and permaculture. Common factors that build both individual and community resilience include diversity, vulnerability and creativity.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Focusing on resilience directs attention towards what assets exist within communities, and how these can be augmented and used to deal with change.
  2. A resilient community takes intentional action to enhance individual and collective capacity
  3. A resilient community proactively responds to, and influences the course of social and economic change.
  4. Diversity, vulnerability and creativity are essential elements of resilience at individual and community level.

About Celia Keenaghan:

I’m a sociologist committed to inspiring people to work better together so that together we develop resilient children, adults and communities who can create a society that is fun fair and fantastic!

In 2011 I set up Keenaghan Collaborative now providing services in Facilitation, Mentoring and Training. I am also working with IT Sligo in setting up a community Education Mentoring programme.

I have worked in business, public health, community development, education and social innovation. I have been a driver of many local and national initiatives including the pioneering youth charity I write, sing, dance, play the accordion and the early Irish harp and enjoy supporting purpose drive enterprise.

Contacting Celia Keenaghan:

You can contact Celia by email.

By Celia Keenaghan

Community resilience is looked at from ecological, economic, social, healthcare and psychological perspectives with subtle differences in definition. I was recently surprised by a community workers definition – something along the lines of ‘they expect us to keep taking a kicking and then they kick us some more’. My interpretation is one that involves agency, power and purpose. I believe community resilience “shifts the focus away from a purely deficit model of deprived communities – the things that they do not have – and directs attention towards what assets do exist within communities, and how these can be amplified and used to cope with change and even thrive” .

An Asset Way of Thinking :

  •  Start with the assets
  • Identify opportunities/ strengths
  • Invest in people, civil society, communities and the common good
  • Help people take control of their lives and see them as co-producers with something to offer
  • Support to develop potential in people

An analysis of definitions of community resilience found that definitions which are most valuable in terms of improving the ability of communities to recover after disasters explicitly or implicitly contain the following five core concepts:

Attribute: resilience is an attribute of the community.
Continuing: a community’s resilience is an inherent and dynamic part of the community.
Adaptation: the community can adapt to adversity.
Trajectory: adaptation leads to a positive outcome for the community relative to its state after the crisis, especially in terms of its functionality.
Comparability: the attribute allows communities to be compared in terms of their ability to positively adapt to adversity.

Looking at personal wellbeing, The New Economics Foundation has set out five things that we can all do to improve our wellbeing.

1. Connect…With the people around you.
2. Take notice…Be curious.
3. Be active.. get out for a walk in nature.
4. Give… Smile. Volunteer your time.
5. Keep learning…Try something new. Rediscover an old interest.

All of these are central to community wellbeing.

Much research has been done to see what makes the difference in how a community ‘bounces back’ from a traumatic event. A University of Queensland Stanhorpe Study
identifies factors most commonly reported to enhance community and individual resilience (psychological wellness). These include
• Social Networks and Support
• Positive Outlook
• Early Experiences
• Infrastructure and Support Services
• Diverse and Innovative Economy
• Sense of belonging, meaning and purpose

So what can we do to enhance community resilience. There are so many doing so much in this area for all walks of life, some I’ve had interaction with include GrowRemote, Men’s Shed,  Havin A Laugh, Geniusu

Does your community promote a sense of determination and an optimistic outlook for the future? Think about sharing stories of success, or what was learned from things not working out. Don’t underestimate the value of fun activities for community gatherings. Learn from nature – value diversity. The core values of permaculture are:
1. Take care of the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
2. Take care of the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
3. Share the surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.

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