The NorCal Community Resilience Network was founded in 2013 by Susan Silber, a longtime environmental educator and community organizer. Susan’s original intent was to support Transition groups from across Northern California after helping to organize the 2012 Transition Conference. In 2013, permaculture and Transition leaders combined conferences to produce the first Building Resilient Communities Convergence. In a desire to support grassroots efforts across the region beyond this annual event, the Network vision expanded to include permaculture and community resilience groups so as to strengthen connections and collaborations born out of the yearly gatherings. Since its inception, the organization has sought to integrate an ethos of social justice and radical inclusion in order to support transformation in the environmental movement as a whole.
Though we are just launching our Circle of Collaborators, the NorCal Network has organized some impressive events and projects since it first began. The stories below demonstrate some of the many ways that our people-powered, nature-inspired, community-based approach has made an impact in the movement to build resilient and regenerative communities.
Building Resilient Communities Convergence (2013, 2015 and 2016)
The Network was a major sponsor and lead organizer for the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Building Resilient Communities Convergence, held at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA. The 2016 Convergence – which combined with the North American Permaculture Convergence – brought together 700+ sustainability enthusiasts, permaculture designers, social entrepreneurs, community organizers, social justice activists and concerned citizens from around the continent for a dynamic, engaging, and celebratory gathering designed to build a powerful movement for community resilience. Our theme of Building Bridges highlighted courageous conversations between diverse communities, movements, projects, and concepts, from disaster preparedness to large-scale carbon farming. The program included 100+ presenters, 60+ workshops and panel discussions about a variety of topics, from personal leadership to aquaponics; as well as live music and more than 50 vendors. “The Convergence was a life-changing event for me,” said Convergence participant Katja Gengenbach. “It opened up my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.”
Network Advisor Brandi Mack demonstrated the power of collaboration in action by bringing together youth from the Butterfly Movement to sell coffee, who were trained as baristas by Red Bay Coffee. She also worked with youth from Phat Beets to sell fermented products and participated in a panel about the power of Building Bridges on Friday evening.
Community Resilience Challenge
Network advisor Trathen Heckman is the creator of the Community Resilience Challenge, an annual mobilization campaign that inspires thousands of citizens and groups to take action to save water, grow food, conserve energy, reduce waste pollution, and build community. The Network co-organized the 2015 and 2016 Challenges in the East Bay, with 34 organizations and 9,000 individuals to work on people-powered, low-cost, high-impact solutions that create healthier, localized, more resilient food systems, economies, and communities.
The NorCal Network has helped to spearhead a number of community resilience workshops, inspiring emerging leaders to take action in their communities to build resilience on a home and neighborhood scale. We collaborated with Daily Acts to co-host a community organizing workshop with more than 40 leaders from around Humboldt and with Bay Localize (now Rooted in Resilience) to organize a workshop in Oakland build solidarity with 70+ leaders from Orinda to Oakland and launch the 2016 Community Resilience Challenge.
East Oakland Work Party
The Network collaborated with community organizer Ingrid Severson to organize a work party in the garden of an elderly permaculturalist in East Oakland, during the 2014 Community Resilience Challenge. About 25 neighbors, friends and enthusiastic gardeners spent the day sheet mulching, digging compost and building a rain garden. It was truly a community effort; Berkeley local business Truitt & White donated $300, while Ingrid helped to secure food donations from local grocery stores. “I had a fantastic time and learned all about rain barrels,” said Mayor Steinberg, Berkeley resident. “I work for a software company and usually spend my time working in front of computers, so it was great getting my hands dirty and creating a rain garden, ” said another participant.