Psychologists define “resilience” as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.” Using this definition as a foundation, Community “Resilience” or “Resiliency” includes the ability of a group of individuals to recover or bounce-back from one or more crises to return to the sense of normalcy that they experienced before the catastrophic event. In a community context, a catastrophic event includes such things as a natural disaster (floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes), a financial disaster (recessions, depressions, closings of major employers), or public health disaster (drug addiction, mental health crises, COVID-19, AIDS). In addition, chronic stressors related to poverty, racism (and other isms), and domestic, workplace, and environmental harassment or violence can also lead individuals and communities to the same sense of hopelessness and loss of balance that sudden events emote.
Not surprisingly, the same tools that build resilience at an individual level can make a community stronger as well. By focusing on building connections, supporting individual citizen wellness, setting community-led goals that nurture individual aspirations, and planning for change, communities can re-emerge from tragedy stronger and more connected, thus strengthening their resilience to the next crisis that will surely come.