The second session focused on how to organize and operate Resilience Coordinating Coalitions (RCCs) — community-based coalitions that strengthen the capacity for wellness and resilience.
Bob began the session by describing how the widespread elevation of stress and “spiritual distress”— a sense of hopelessness and spiritual loss— results from bio-psycho-social-economic-built-environmental forces. These stressors, the rise in ecologic disruptions, and the climate emergency require us to redefine mental health and psychosocial problems and how we prevent and respond to them. Traditionally, clinical treatment and direct human service programs are limited in terms of the population being served, do not expand social connections, and consist of reactive strategies that fail to address the above resilience challenges. Two actions will make the most impact: 1) Expand and change mental models and enduring beliefs, and perceptions, 2) System changes towards a multi-systemic approach.
Bob then described and invited participants to practice “resourcing”, a resilience pause skill that helps connect individuals to a personal resource (e.g., person, thing, place, memory, experience) that helps them to feel calm, peaceful, or strong. It can be a real, imagined, internal, or external experience. Evoking a resource that is already associated with pleasant sensations like peace or stability can help us override negative sensations like fear or activated trauma. Adding more details to this memory or experience can help us better ground it. Bob offered a few suggested questions we can ask ourselves to add this detail:
What was I feeling at the moment?
Who was involved?
What led up to that moment?
After this exercise, Bob introduced Teri Barila and Tina Pearson, who shared how they began, organized, and secured funding for their initiatives.
Teri Barila, Community Resilience Initiative in Walla Walla WA
After learning about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, Teri wanted her community to learn and collaboratively prevent ACE on families and communities. Teri had preexisting relationships with community partners due to her work in youth development. She met with multiple agencies to help them develop a common language around resilience and ACE, recognize how this framework impacts them regardless of role or sector, and how the framework could be integrated in their current work. After slowly bringing multiple agencies in her community to the same table, they expanded through training, conferences, and products to educate organizations on how to build resilience skills. Though Teri’s initial relationship-building efforts were done independently, the initiative was initially funded through local foundations such as the Sherwood Trust, eventually attracting the Gates Foundation for a planning grant to connect with organizations, community partners, and neighborhoods. The structure began through a grassroots approach with a loosely defined steering committee. This committee was inclusive and adaptive to everyone’s input. Presently, the initiative has a more formal structure, a non-profit model, for the sustainability of the initiative.
Teri provided tips for developing an RCC:
Relationships are the foundation of these initiatives. Persistence is key. Consider what organizations, networks, and non-profits you already know and can talk to.
Developing a common language around the issue before people convene assures that people are already on the same page and have a shared vision to address the issue.
Grants can accept process and outcome measures. Teri’s measures included parents (e.g., education), schools (e.g., engagement), and neighborhoods.
“It’s a journey, not a sprint. Just keep at it.”
Tina Pearson, New Hanover County Resiliency Task Force
This task force, which consists of 8 subcommittees from different sectors, was developed in 2016 as an effort to improve 3rd grade reading outcomes. However, when its founder was exposed to the film Resilience: Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope, they realized that their efforts should move beyond reading outcomes and expand to developing resilience skills. The task force started with a planning grant funded by The Duke Endowment with schools as their primary fiscal agent. Presently, their mission is to build their community’s resiliency by reducing and preventing ACE and trauma with knowledge, empathy, and compassion and by creating opportunities for meaningful connection. Their current model is education, advocacy, and connection. They have a resiliency task force that targets multiple sectors and populations, including arts and gathering data. Their strategic plan, developed in 2019, offers a roadmap to resilience and trauma informed systems, believing that if providers are trauma informed and resilience-focused, they will be able to better serve their communities. However, Tina notes that they plan to revise their strategic plan to be less linear and able to target multiple tasks at the same time. At this time, the task force tracks process measures such as the number of people engaged and trained in the work. (They have trained approximately 5,000 people on the resiliency model).
Some recent accomplishments and projects of this task force include:
52 organizations signed their belief statement (See their website for a copy of this statement.)
Developing a racial equity through a trauma informed lens training (a three-part series to help communities organize for racial equity)
Raising the age for being tried as an adult from 14 to 17 years old After the presentations, Bob initiated a second resilience pause for participants to reflect and practice resourcing
The rest of the session consisted of Q&A, discussion, and participant reflections
The Six-Step Process.
Bob concluded the presentation by presenting a six-step process for forming and operating an RCC for climate emergencies. See the recording for all the steps. These steps should include basic education to get everyone on the same page, constantly practice good communications and conflict resolution skills, and foster natural leaders whom others respect and respond to.
Some recommendations included:
Your mission statement should answer basic questions and highlight your top priorities for local residents.
Your vision statement should be an ideal, vivid picture of why the work is important. Clear values will help attract participation.
Operating principles and goals will guide decision-making and put values into practice.
There are multiple structures to consider though a more formal one is more sustainable.
Consider multiple funding sources like donations, grants, and part of existing grants.