It’s been a whirlwind the past few weeks here at the Island Institute! First off, we want to send out our deep thanks and gratitude to everyone who participated in and helped contribute to the Roundtable on Resilient Communities that took place July 18-20. The gathering of over 40 people worked to weave the many threads of resilience together and we hope it served as an important place of inquiry, visioning, and celebration.
So where do we go from here? We’re still in the process of compiling notes and documentation from the Roundtable, while also practicing personal resilience with some vacations over here at the Island Institute. We hope to continue and expand the conversation around resilience here on the blog through posts and comments, and are opening up contribution possibilities to Roundtable Participants and beyond. Eventually, written and video documentation from the event will be posted here. A Resilience Facebook page has been started to share shorter thoughts and comments.
Many key ideas came out of the Roundtable; one that we are focusing on going forward is that “Everything we need is right here.” In creating resilience in Sitka and in other towns, we want to explore how we can we look within our communities to find the tools we need, and to ask the difficult questions of what we love enough to work to preserve. Ideas for action and areas of focus came out of the Roundtable, and we hope to develop a series of ongoing resilience programs and gatherings in Sitka over the next year. (To do that we need your help! Consider supporting the Island Institute to contribute to this work) Again, stay tuned here and on our website for tools and documentation from the Roundtable and action plans for Sitka. For now, here are some highlighted themes from the Roundtable–these foci were used during our Friday evening public event to expand the discussion to the Sitka community.
*The need for words, images, and visions
Storytelling, narratives, and arts served as important tools during the Roundtable to provide examples and inspirations. The need for this form of creative support and expression as part of resilience, and as a way to share resilience, was felt by all.
The issue of local investment and reinvestment came up in addressing a variety of issues. How can capital stay in and benefit a community? How can investment help address issues of crippling student loans and community philanthropic needs? (Action plan on this issue to come!)
*Grieving and Celebration
The need for space to celebrate the joys and gifts that sustain us and to grieve losses–whether of a young person, an elder, a language, an economic base, a river, an animal, or a dream–was a common thread throughout our discussions in terms of maintaining personal resilience. How can we incorporate formal and informal space and rituals for grieving and celebration in our resilience work?
How do the themes of resilience and resistance tie together? What are creative ways to resist the threats to human and natural resilience and thriving?
Resilience is as much about identifying what you want to protect as it is imagining–or reimagining–ourselves and our communities. How can we envision a future that fosters deep communication between all aspects of a community?
*Leadership and Education
Community resiliency requires strong community leaders who themselves demonstrate resilience. What does it take to be a resilient leader, and how can we work in education to “transmit” those skills to our young people.
Especially in remote areas like Sitka, the issue of food security is essential in conversations of resilience. Many discussions touched on the need for more local food available to more locals in a variety of ways.
Community resilience relies first on knowing how a community ties together, a map of inventory and richness in some ways. By noting both intersections and who’s not at the table, we can make the “community” that’s part of resilience more solid and complete.