What kinds shared assets, skills, and capabilities enable some communities to adapt resiliently to disasters and others not?
(click above title to go to Laughing Heart website Move)
There is a considerable body of writing on community resilience, most of it focused on the capacity of communities to recover from disasters of all kinds. Most of these studies highlight the importance of adaptive infrastructure. One such report commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states:
- “The turning point occurred when their theory of change shifted from solely adding or enhancing direct service programs to incorporating layers of strategy that supported parents as agents of culture change. They began working to “improve parent skills so they can give sound advice and be good mentors to their children, and, in turn [parents] will gain skills and relationships to give sound advice to the community—and that advice will make a better system of help for them and for other families” (Cowlitz Network Report, 2007). They held education events to learn about the science of adversity, hosted networking cafés, organized neighborhood residents and linked service strengths across disciplines; for example, court-appointed special advocates were deployed in schools to ensure that children served by the child welfare system had appropriate education plans that supported their academic progress. The work was strategic, personal and trauma-informed. Cowlitz County’s story demonstrates what is possible when a community turns from a culture of illness, conflict and despair to a culture of self-healing.”
Other studies focus on the general behaviors that support resilient adaption after traumatic events. The goals of one Community Resilience Model are:
- To learn simple biologically based skills, based upon current neuroscience, to help individuals get back into balance in body, mind and spirit.
- To educate about common reactions resulting from individual or communal traumas/stresses such as poverty, racism and family violence.
- To reduce common human reactions related to stressful/traumatic experiences.
- To shift perceptions that reactions are biological rather than mental weakness in order to reduce shame and increase hope.
- To encourage individuals to integrate wellness skills into their daily life.
A number of studies of indigenous peoples point out how deep rootedness to a specific place (with traditional lands, communities, and transactions with the environment) and culture held the key to resilience and also the source of its impairment as these elements were swept away by colonization and subsequent loss of autonomy, political oppression, and bureaucratic control.
The concept of Big Heart Community Advantage amplifies these findings with the following insights:
- It recognizes that love and qi are powerful forms of free energy that are infinitely available.
- It understands that the Heart plays a unique role in connecting, transforming, and transmitting these forms of subtle energy.
- It highlights the role of love, compassion, and paying forward as powerful processes of engagement. Love has three interesting economic dimensions not widely noted in the economic literature on community resilience. First, even the smallest tincture of love in the form of a small act of kindness can transform a life as Victor Hugo, Dickens and others writers describe. Second, love is not diminished by giving but rather enhanced. Third, the velocity of love in communities increases, as its effects are experienced and the greater the number of participants engaged. In other words, love and its close relations, kindness and generosity, have the potential to multiply and to reach a tipping point that can transform communities.
- It recognizes that all dimensions of resilience embodied as Integral Resilience are essential, especially in restoring and revitalizing overtaxed and overburdened caregivers.
- It understands that technology as embodied in a Community Health Multiplier Exchange (CHME) (described below) has an important role to play in encouraging and rewarding heart-centric collaborative engagement.