Photograph of man with backpack walking away from the camera down a narrow dirt path in the hills.

Building resilience: A call to action

Resilience is a concept that is at the core of our work at Transition Kamloops. As we face the climate challenges headed our way, resilience—in all its forms—is going to become increasingly important.

I’m not an expert. I’m just a person who has been working for about 15 years to engage Kamloopsians and our leaders on the need to take big action on climate change. This post is a reflection what I’ve learned over that time, and a call to action. I encourage you to share your own insights as comments, down below.

I’ve come to think of resilience, both on a personal level and on a systems level, as the ability to just keep going. When you aren’t sure your efforts are going to be successful, just know that you’re doing the right thing—and keep going. When you’ve had a setback and something you tried didn’t work out, learn from that—and keep going. When you’re feeling small and hopeless, find a supportive network to lift you back onto your feet—and just keep going. That’s personal resilience. When you look back, you will see the progress you’ve made.

Similarly, when part of a strong system fails, another part picks up the slack, and the system as a whole keeps working. We see incredible resilience in nature all the time: the parts wobble a bit now and then, but the system eventually finds a new balance, and it just keeps on going. Brittle systems, on the other hand, fall apart.

Climate change offers one of the most daunting resilience challenges, not necessarily for nature—there will be huge losses, but nature will undoubtedly keep on going—but for us humans. How can we as individuals make a dent in a problem that is so mind-bogglingly huge? How can we motivate a critical mass of our peers to take immediate action when the worst impacts of the climate crisis will not be felt for years, and when there are so many more acute problems that also need to be dealt with? How can we ignore the uncertainty we feel on so many levels and take action anyway?

When I first struggled with these questions, I stumbled across the work of Joanna Macy. Her simple wisdom, summed up in the book Active Hope (co-written with Chris Johnstone, and newly revised in 2022 with the subtitle How to Face the Mess We’re In with Unexpected Resilience and Creative Power) became a guidepost for me:

Active Hope is a practice. Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have. It is a process we can apply to any situation, and it involves three key steps. First, we start from where we are by taking a clear view of reality, acknowledging what we see and how we feel. Second, we identify what we hope for in terms of the direction we’d like to see things move in or the values we’d like to see expressed. And third, we take steps to move ourselves or our thinking in that direction.

Over the years, we’ve developed a strong core team at Transition Kamloops, for which I’m incredibly grateful. Our December 2022 newsletter boasts an impressive list of accomplishments (thanks to you!) But as a group, we’ve now arrived at a place where we feel the need to take our organization to the next level.

We invite you to make 2023 the year that you step a bit outside your comfort zone and take a bigger role in climate action: for Kamloops and for our planet.

We’ve received funding to run an ambitious community resilience-building program which largely mirrors the three-step process of Active Hope:

  • Learn about the challenges around climate change and related issues
  • Identify opportunities for building local resilience, based on our learnings
  • Take action! Develop and implement our “made-in-Kamloops” plan.

We’ve set ourselves a very ambitious goal: we want to sign up 100 people to this program. Putting that number out publicly terrifies me, because I know it’s an incredibly big ask of our community. But that’s the size of the climate action team we think is needed to move the needle in Kamloops.

Our Transition Kamloops core group members, as well as our partners at the Kamloops Food Policy Council and the Kamloops Naturalist club are doing all we can, knowing that each of us can only play a small role. But we know that many of you share our concerns and our hopes for the health of our community in the future. Together, with everyone pitching in, we can make a difference locally.

So now it’s over to you. Will you put aside a couple of hours a week for the next few months to join our team of climate champions, and help us to build our resilience here in Kamloops?

I hope so. I can’t wait to get going.

2 thoughts on “Building resilience: A call to action

  1. Thanks, Bala — we look forward to working with you to build the resilience in our community. Your work sounds very interesting — I’m sure we can learn a lot from you!

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