Romer: Resiliency is my 2022 theme
I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions. While the start of a new year is a natural time to reflect and make commitments to the future, it strikes me that we’re better off making changes as needed when we identify opportunities.
That said, I do think a new year is an appropriate time to develop and embrace a theme. A theme is universal and different from a resolution (deciding to do or not do something). A theme is a central topic of focus, not an individual action.
My theme for 2022 is resiliency, defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that it is increasingly apparent that regional prosperity is linked to an area’s ability to prevent, withstand and quickly recover from major disruptions (like shocks) to its economic base.
The ability to bounce back from setbacks is important and admirable. However, it might be even more important to adapt and persist through changing circumstances to learn from our experiences and adapt moving forward. This is what resiliency means to me and why I’m embracing it in 2022.
In as much as it is possible to have consensus in a divided world, there is a widely held belief that we collectively want to ensure the economic health of Eagle County and to solidify an economic base that is strong, diverse, and resilient. Regardless of political leanings, we should agree that building sustainable communities that can thrive indefinitely is a good thing. This requires embracing resiliency.
Community resiliency is similar in many ways to the guiding principle of “community sustainability” in the pursuit of our community objectives. The principle of community sustainability states that the decisions, policies and programs that we pursue in the implementation of our goals should aim to create outcomes that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable.
The mindset of community resiliency adds to this a focus on building a foundation of resiliency. The six foundations, adapted from Post Carbon Institute’s book “The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval” are:
- People. The power to envision the future of the community and build its resilience resides with community members.
- Systems thinking. Systems thinking is essential for understanding the complex, interrelated crises now unfolding and what they mean for our similarly complex communities.
- Adaptability. A community that adapts to change is resilient. But because communities and the challenges we face are dynamic, adaptation is an ongoing process.
- Transformability. Some challenges are so big that it’s not possible for the community to simply adapt; fundamental, transformative changes may be necessary.
- Sustainability. Community resilience is not sustainable if it serves only us and only now; it needs to work for other communities, future generations and the ecosystems on which we all depend.
- Courage. As individuals and as a community, we need the courage to confront challenging issues and take responsibility for our collective future.
Community sustainability (economic, environmental and social) requires a solid foundation (people, systems thinking, adaptability, transformability, sustainability and courage). Together, sustainability and resiliency are more impactful than on their own. Economic vitality and community resilience are a team effort. Local businesses, governments and residents must all play an active and ongoing role in positively influencing change.
My theme in 2022, as we enter our third year of operating in a COVID-19 environment is not to achieve resilience as a fixed goal but rather to embrace resiliency as the ongoing toughness to bounce back from the inevitable challenge placed before us.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.