By Jeroen Robbe
Resilience Trees are a visual exercise to deepen our understanding of the practices that increase our resilience and strengthen our movements.
‘Resilience Trees’ is a visual illustration activity in which participants have the opportunity to identify the “roots, branches and fruits” of resilience. The activity directs the focus of the group towards the “roots and ground” of a more resilient life/work/activist practice (and the benefits gained from generating one).
A resilience tree consists of three parts: roots, a trunk (with branches) and fruits. Each of those are populated by answering some prompts:
- What do we need to be ‘drawing upon’ to feel more resourced and resilient.
- What supports our resilience?
- How we feel when we attend to these things?
- What grows out of those roots?
- What wider impact does that have?
- What capacity and benefits for our movements and activities flow from our greater resourcing and enhanced resilience?
How does this tool support leaderful movements?
We think of resilience not only as the ability to endure in the face of marginalization and oppression. We do need to develop our ability to weather the stresses involved in our varied struggles for social change. But we also need to find ways of doing that which will strengthen our collective efforts towards deeper social transformation and the creation of worlds in which we can all thrive, rather than merely endure.
Sustainable leaderful movements and organizations necessitate individual and collective practices that support resilience. Understanding and exploring key resilience factors will increase our awareness to build organizational cultures and structures that will nourish rather than deplete us.
The resilience trees exercise will support you to map these resilient practices and is therefore an ideal exercise for groups seeking to build capacity in the resilience and regeneration competence area.
This activity can be done as an individual reflective exercise or as a small group activity, creating space for people to link resilience to meeting important needs, e.g connection, belonging, meaning, safety, integrity, autonomy etc.
In the roots, all which supports our resilience is being collected. The picture ideally should include roots AND sub-roots… An important part of the activity is analyzing the causes or supports and then getting beneath those too, exploring deeper levels of a solid support base for our resilience tree.
Some people choose to illustrate the benefits – the core features/expressions of feeling more resourced, e.g greater energy, more capacity, more mental clarity, more harmony – as the trunk and branches of the tree. This is a longer way to do it, and if you are short of time it is fine to focus on roots and fruits more as the key learning aims relate to those areas.
The fruit of the tree is the capacity and effectiveness that is generated by greater resourcing and resilience in ourselves and in our movements. What becomes possible? What energy is freed up? What space opens up?
The most important aspect of framing the session is to give people a sense of the symbolic meaning of the different dimensions of the tree illustration.
Psychosocial Resilience and Regenerative Activism Training Manual – pg 114 – 166. This session plan is intended to support you facilitate the activity for a group.
- Leaderful Organizing Tool: Body Scanning and Cultivating Somatic Awareness
- Resilience based organizing
- Building a Resiliency Network: A Toolkit for Building Community Resilience during a Contentious Election Cycle
- 12 Habits of Successful Changemakers
- More Leaderful Organizing Tools
- Wellbeing Resources in the Commons Library