The only constant in life is change. This expression is credited to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who lived approximately 2500 years ago, but it still rings true today. Looking back over the last century, and even throughout more recent years, it is evident that change truly is a continual part of life.
The history of the Oil Region shows peaks and valleys, a never-ending ride on the ebbs and flows of industry, energy, and technology. To survive–to be resilient–our communities have needed to adapt. Without the ability or the willingness to adapt, a town is likely to fade away, leaving behind only the broken remains of a past time. So, how can we ensure that our communities can adapt in the face of inevitable change?
Simply put, we must embrace it. I don’t mean that we should love or even accept every change that happens–sometimes there are shifts toward the negative–but resilient communities are those that acknowledge and prepare for change. Resilient communities have the ability to respond and adapt to changing circumstances in order to survive and thrive. Change will come. We can approach change with trepidation or pretend it isn’t happening, or we can embrace it, assess possible outcomes, and better manage and steer these changes to bring about positive change, often bringing with it new and exciting opportunities.
It is also important to recognize that not every attempt may work out as planned. But, if or when it doesn’t, a resilient community is prepared to adapt again and try again. Ultimately, the key is to remain flexible and open-minded and to view change as an opportunity rather than a threat.
A willingness to learn and innovate is also an important factor in creating an adaptive community. Being open to new ideas and technologies, as well as being willing to invest in education for community members and skilled workers are both necessary to an adaptive and resilient community.
Another key to adaptive communities is a commitment to working together to overcome challenges. This means strong leadership that can provide guidance and foster collaboration between social networks and community organizations, rallying the whole community around common goals. It also means businesses, organizations, and individuals who are willing to work together to make positive change successful.
We already have many leaders and organizations in our region who are doing just that. They are working to build bridges within the community as well as making connections with outside organizations that have the potential to bring change in a positive way. We also have many businesses and organizations that are adapting within themselves to stay relevant and continue to serve the community in the best way. Next week we’ll look at an institution that has been around for centuries and continues to be an asset today. Any guesses what it is?
If you have any thoughts or ideas about what we, as community members, can do to adapt and thrive, I’d love to hear from you! Stop by Divani Chocolatier in Foxburg on Fridays from 1-3. And starting soon we’ll be spending some more time at River Roots Community Farm at A-C Valley School District, and you can check our Facebook page (facebook.com/RiverRoots Redevelopment) for updates on that as well.
Rachel Brosnahan is the Community Engagement Coordinator for River Roots Redevelopment. She can be reached by email at email@example.com