How Resilient Are You?
Compare your score:
70 or higher = Leading the way to more resilient communities!
46–69 = Off to a good start...
45 or lower = You have many opportunities to become more resilient.
Cheat Sheet for Resilience
Now that you’ve taken the YES! resilience test, here are some ways you can improve your score.
1. Build a support network
Research shows that individualism rarely works for surviving change and calamity. According to author Rebecca Solnit and disaster scholars Lee Clarke and Karen Chess, people who thrive during times of upheaval do so with the help of community. And knowing your neighbors, volunteering, and sharing with others substantially improves your health and happiness. In a survey by United Healthcare, nearly three-fourths of Americans who volunteer report that their volunteer work lowers their stress level; 70 percent say it makes them feel physically healthier.
It’s easy to build informal community networks by getting involved in neighborhood and community activities and organizations. Personal Safety Nets (Safety Nets Unlimited 2007) by John Gibson and Judy Piggott also provides strategies for deliberately building a support network that can help you through life changes and unexpected circumstances. The authors’ website (personalsafetynets.com) provides resources and toolkits for organizing a team of people who can help one other both through crisis and during life’s more minor bumps in the road.
2. Become locally reliant
A growing number of experts believe it’s inevitable that our society needs to move away from businesses and institutions that are “too big to fail” and toward small, more diverse, local economies and organizations. And as we reach the end of cheap oil and try to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, we’ll need to produce more goods locally, rather than shipping them across vast distances.
If oil becomes scarce and food prices spike, the cost of every imported good is likely to go up as well. That’s why it’s important to have means for procuring the basics (food, energy, heating, water) locally.
Chris Martenson, a former Fortune 500 company vice president and a leading expert on resilience, offers a series of steps and ideas for becoming self-reliant and resilient—they include everything from learning to store your food to investing in alternative energy and water filtration systems. You can find his report, “Personal Preparation,” through the Post Carbon Institute.
Bay Localize, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization devoted to sustainability, also offers tips for strengthening your personal and community resilience and becoming less reliant on fossil fuels, such as:
- Get a home energy audit.
- Form a city peak oil task force.
- Ride your bike.
- Start a carpool.
- Plant a community garden.
For many more tips and a wealth of information, read their guidebook, available here.
Want to improve your water self-reliance? Try one of these six ways to “Bring the Water Revolution Home.”
And explore these tips for joining the local food movement.
3. Develop sources of personal strength, and take care of yourself
Change is stressful for most people. Responding to change and crisis requires that we develop deeper wells of personal, emotional resilience, in order to cope, thrive, and support others around us.
Dennis Charney and Charles Nemeroff, leading experts on stress and trauma, note that “Recent studies have shown that resilience can be improved with intentional effort. People can learn to build their psychological reserves, toughen their physical response to stress, and become less vulnerable to anxiety or depression.”
They identify key strategies for strengthening your personal resilience. The first is physical health—eat well, exercise, sleep well, take care of yourself.
A second is called positive “appraisal.” Learn to view change as an opportunity. Develop a hopeful vision of what your community can look like, even without cheap oil, even in the face of an unimaginable climate future.
Lastly, invest in the activities and practices that bring meaning to your life. Staci Haines, an expert on healing after trauma, says these practices and activities include: “spirituality, a strong relationship with animals and or nature, creativity and art including music, movement and visual arts. Other more relationship-based resilience strategies include: being able to help others both during and after the trauma … and being positively connected to at least one other person.”
This article was written by YES! Magazine staff for the Fall 2010 issue, A Resilient Community.
- Why Build Resilience? Get the facts from our Fall 2010 issue.
- Pam Chang blogs about the Transition Town movement
- L.A. Eco-Village: How one urban community is taking action in the city
- Multimedia on resilience from our Fall 2010 issue
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