November 27, 2017

From Bob Doppelt, International Transformational Resilience Coalition Coordinator

A sold out conference was held November 15–16 at Portland State University to launch a movement to make the Pacific Northwest the first trauma-informed human resilience-enhancing region in the US for climate change-enhanced—and other—traumas and toxic stresses. Preparing People for Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest, organized by the International Transformational Resilience Coalition (ITRC), drew people from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia, and from as far away as Louisiana and Massachusetts.

Conference Focus

The conference emphasized the importance of launching prevention initiatives region wide to help individuals and groups cope constructively with the more frequent extreme disasters and overwhelming stresses generated by climate change without harming themselves, others, or the natural environment. It also emphasized how building regional capacity for Transformational Resilience—also called post-traumatic and stress-based growth—can help people use climate and other adversities as catalysts to learn, grow, and increase well-being above precrisis levels.

Through keynote talks by well-known leaders such as Dr. Sandra Bloom, founder of the Sanctuary Model, and presentations by regional experts including Dr. Mandy Davis, Director of Trauma Informed Oregon, and local practitioners, the conference shared different methods for building resilience within individuals, families, organizations, and communities.

What Are People Saying?

Feedback after the conference was outstanding. A sampling of comments received include:

  • “Thank you for an incredible conference experience. I now realize that when it comes to mental health and climate change we all are vulnerable. My mind has truly been blown!”
  • “Thank you for a great conference…I came away with new resilience building knowledge and skills that I will share with my colleagues and begin to implement in my organization.”
  • “This was my first foray into applying our mental health perspective to the climate change conversation and I am now a ‘true believer’ in its clear relationship…”
  • “…Thanks much for the GREAT conference…and for your commitment to this important endeavor!”
  • “The psychological impacts of climate change have long been ignored yet are so very important. It was an eye opening learning experience for me…”
  • “The focus on social justice and equity as a central element of resilience was so important…really appreciated that emphasis…”
  • “What an awesome conference! THANK YOU!”
  • “I left tired and filled to the brim…but also with the realization that I must address the psychological dimensions of the climate crisis, not just renewable energy.”
  • “I learned lots…Yes, we are now advocates for the cause. I am deeply impressed with the presenters and attendees. All had so much to share.  Thank you!”

The next ITRC conference will be Preparing People for Climate Change in California on January 24-25 in Oakland.