From Mandy Davis, LCSW, PhD, Director, Trauma Informed Oregon
Some of you have heard me talk about a conference I attended in D.C. last November titled International Conference on Building Personal and Psychosocial Resilience for Climate Change. During the two-day conference we learned about changes in our climate and how this impacts our biology, psychology and our social and spiritual self. I learned about carbon footprints and changes as a result of temperatures rising—all of which taxed my brain. On the second day we heard about programs, from around the globe, working to build human resilience. Examples included: inclusive disaster preparedness planning, faith based initiatives, community healing strategies, restorative justice, including indigenous wisdom, and more. With wide ranging topics from carbon footprint to human resilience, you can imagine why my brain was in overdrive.
Resilience and Trauma Informed Care
Since that conference, I have noticed resilience being more a part of conversations about Trauma Informed Care (TIC). I admit I was skeptical at first—nervous that we were jumping to resilience because trauma was uncomfortable (similar to jumping to TIC work because equity work can be uncomfortable). I was also wary about resilience because it is often talked about as an individual trait of perseverance—seen as the lone flower growing amidst the concrete. As though you have it or you don’t versus seeing it as something you can develop and what it looks like for families, organizations, and communities. I have been a part of conversations thinking about the differences of the word resilience and post-trauma growth, and what these words mean to different communities and across different service sectors.
A year later here is where I am today. I believe resilience is about building a foundation, a fabric (a green zone for you educators) of support so we can more quickly restore, heal, and thrive post an event. I pull from Cornell University’s work around Building Resilience. This work involves developing opportunities in organizations and communities to provide service, connection to others, mastery and self-efficacy, and self-reflection. I believe that the principles of equity and TIC are necessary to be successful in providing these opportunities especially in inclusive ways. And my big take away is the importance of doing this work before tragedies and disasters occur. This brings me to ponder how are TIC efforts supporting this work.
Similar to TIC, there are many activities that promote resilience that are not labeled as such. Those contributing to this newsletter have shared some of these activities. You will notice a theme around natural resources, disasters, and climate disruptions because I have been inspired by seeing the connections between these fields. Here are two quick examples.
Natural Resources and Houselessness
You will read in Kathleen Guillozet’s blog about a pilot project to bring together natural resource managers to talk about houselessness. You may guess that this is not a typical audience for Trauma Informed Oregon (TIO) but I am so excited these partnerships are happening. The folks in the audience are often charged with restoring habitat and/or managing our natural areas. It is not uncommon, especially with the housing crisis, that houseless persons are living in some of the spaces. Some amazing people came together to share information and wisdom across disciplines. We heard about the history of housing policies, impacts of stress and trauma, voices of people who have experienced houselessness, and more. There were examples of how communities were working across sectors to best support the natural areas and those who use them. I was inspired by the interest of these natural resources managers to listen and learn more. I would like to invite the providers into our community work and program planning.
Pacific Northwest and Climate Change
The second experience I want to share is the International Transformational Resilience Coalition’s Preparing People for Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest Conference. This conference was focused on building human resilience to respond to climate disruptions. There were amazing speakers from across the country talking to those who work with environmental issues, behavioral health, and public health. I met folks from waste management, emergency management, faith communities, and public health. Someone asked me “What does climate change have to do with TIC?” Here were my thoughts: 1) climate disruptions impact our health and wellness, 2) those working to restore the environment need support to stay well and do this hard and often unseen work, 3) behavioral and public health folks need to recognize this impact to offer effective services, and 4) it will take communities and all voices to thrive.
I recently read (well actually listened to during my commute) the book Scarcity written by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. The authors define scarcity as not having enough of what you think you need and how this impacts decision making and behaviors. This content mirrors TIC with examples about tunneling (seeing only what is right in front of you) and making decisions based on surviving versus thriving. I bring this up because scarcity seems to be a common theme across work sectors and communities. It could be a scarcity of time, money, water, houses, social support, or food. By connecting our work I do not think we will magically have all that we need but I do believe we can lessen the consequences of working from a place of scarcity, allowing us to more successfully build resiliency and sustainability.
TIC is about resiliency and I look forward to hearing how you are promoting resilience with individuals, families, communities, and organizations. I will keep you posted as I learn more and a big thank you to the newsletter contributors for sharing about community resilience and connection.
Helpful Blog Posts
Check out our latest blog posts to learn more about how TIC efforts promote resilience:
What’s Going on at TIO
We are so lucky to have Charlie McNeeley join the TIO team. Charlie will be focusing on community outreach with a focus on hearing the needs from communities often unheard. She will introduce herself soon.
We have a new section on the webpage dedicated to Community Response. Please let us know if you have resources you’d like to add.
TIO is represented on the board of CTIPP, the Coalition for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice. I am excited that this group will keep Oregon informed of federal legislation and policies related to TIC. I am also a steering committee member of the International Trauma Resilience Coalition (ITRC) and look forward to sharing resources from that work.
A highlight from the past two months is attending the Oregon Family Support Network’s 25th Anniversary celebration. I was so honored to accept, on TIO’s behalf, their System of Care award. It was an amazing night celebrating the work of the Oregon Family Support Network.
Where We’ve Been
Thanks to the benefit of technology, we have visited Ontario, OR and Ontario, Canada! We’ve also been invited to some other places including Roseburg, Seaside, Salem, Lane County and Bend. We’ve shared with systems ranging from reproductive health to Oregon Resource Association’s professional development in disability services. Thanks for inviting us, we love to hear about what you are doing and needing.
To Do List
- Do you, your organization, your community have a disaster plan?
- Holidays can be difficult times. Here are some resources that might be helpful.