‘Resilience’ has become a buzzword in Australia over the past few years, as communities across the country struggle to cope with fire, floods, and a pandemic.
Defined as the ability to recover from, or adjust to misfortune or change, our collective resilience will determine how we emerge from the adversity of the past 16 months and deal with future challenges.
But how do we foster community resilience? And how do we add the element of regeneration, so that rather than just surviving, our communities can thrive? Working collaboratively with the many organisations already active in this field, Resilient Byron seeks to achieve these goals through information dissemination, strengthening links between existing organisations, and activating local communities.
One of their latest initiatives is the Resilient Communities Training, which was successfully piloted from September 2020 to April 2021 in Bangalow. Designed by Bellingen-based environmental organisation OzGreen, the training allows communities to generate their own solutions to local and global concerns, focusing on seven key areas, which include climate change, fire, water, food, and health resilience.
Strategic questioning and deep listening
Before commencing the content, participants are trained in facilitation based on a process of strategic questioning and deep listening. In pairs or groups of three, they then deliver one workshop a month on each of the focus areas to their local communities.
The outcomes of the program so far have been impressive. In Bangalow, participants’ actions ranged from switching energy providers to installing solar panels and buying local, to community initiatives.
At the end of the series, participants reported that the workshops had given them the time, information, and motivation to act.
Local Bangalow vet Megan Kearney said she valued, ‘The community connections and conversations on important topics, which have made me more aware of the resources and the wealth of expertise in the community’.
Resilient Byron facilitator, Melanie Bloor, says that productive conversations like these are crucial to building resilience, as every local community will have different needs, strengths and weaknesses.
The workshop series, she says, ‘Allows us to drill down on collective solutions, to identify what we don’t know, to link in with the many service providers already working in this area, and to generate a bank of local-specific ideas for the future’.
Thanks to the Northern Rivers Community Foundation, training is now rolling out across the Byron Shire.
Residents interested in facilitating the program in their own community can apply at www.events.humanitix.com/resilient.
May 23 training
Participants will receive free training in the engagement process, as well as topic-specific training on each module. The first training day is scheduled for Sunday May 23.
Subsequent module training will take place online.
Claire McLisky is from Resilient Byron: www.resilientbyron.org.