COMMUNITY RESILIENCE refers to a community’s capacity to recover from severe disruption - whether from natural or historical causes - by mobilizing its own resources and enlisting the support of external allies. As a model for wellness and recovery, a community resilience approach provides communities with a tool to address seemingly intractable and overwhelming problems such as additions, domestic violence and suicides.

A community resilience approach is based on the premise that people are able to provide answers to questions such as:

  • What are the main problems or issues facing our community?    

  • What are the barriers (internal and external) to resolving these problems?

  • What strengths and resources does our community possess that can be drawn on to address these challenges?

  • What can we do to overcome the barriers and address the problems?  

  • Who are the  allies that we can call on to help us overcome the external barriers and provide us with additional resources to help implement our plans?


The answers to these questions form the basis of a COMMUNITY RESILIENCE PLAN, which consists of activities that people can organize locally and that make a difference and a contribution to peoples’ recovery, health and well-being.

The Planning Process for community resilience is community-driven. As facilitators of the planning process we tailor the approach to each individual community. The following guiding principles are based on the successes of indigenous communities around the world.

An effective community resilience strategy:


  • Is community-driven: the ideas come from the community, and the community is in charge when it comes to implementing the plan;


  • Engages as many people as possible, meeting in large and small groups, in creating and carrying out the community’s plan;

  • Takes time; creating an initial plan typically takes place over 6 months to a year;

  • Is strength-based; it is built on a community's strengths, skills, knowledge and experience, not on its problems;

  • Unites the community behind shared goals and engaging in activities together;

  • May call on external allies to help address external barriers and provide resources to help implement the community’s plan.

Healthy Community Planning Workshop

As a preliminary step, Community Works offers a 2-day workshop called Building Community Resilience: Working Together for Wellness and Recovery.  This workshop can be delivered in a location that your community chooses.