Introductory Session Power-Point Presentation, by Resilience Circles and Transition Albany CA

Posted March 7, 2012 in East Bay, Publicity, Resource

This presentation was used by people in the East Bay area of California, in conjunction with Transition Albany. It includes important information and statistics about economic insecurity, national debt, and more.

Activity 2: Mini-Presentation: Why a Resilience Circle? (20)

This presentation gives participants more context for why you might form a Resilience Circle and an overview of its three purposes: learning, mutual aid, and social action. You might use the PowerPoint presentation included in the Organizing Kit to add visuals to this presentation, or you could talk through the notes below in your own words without showing the slides. Either is fine.

Notes on Slides – To Use with the PowerPoint or Summarize in Your Own Words


Introductory comments: General comments on current status of the issues on the intro slide

  • Jobs are coming back—what kind of jobs are these, anyway? Wages? Benefits? Stability?
  • Stock Market gains?- who owns all that stock? The DJIA is only 30 industrials, anyway.
  • Foreclosures?- Have we seen the worst? One in 10 homeowners are still under water.
  • Banking and Regulation: has anything changed?
  • The Social Contract: what about pensions, savings, Social Security, Medicare?
  • Accountability: Has anyone gone to jail for the fraud?
  • Who has recovered?: 93% of recent gains have gone to the 1%.


Poverty in America

  1. Food insecurity is growing: Nearly one out of five Americans (18.6%) reported in a recent survey by the Food Research and Action Center that they had some difficulty feeding themselves or their families in 2011.  That’s 55 million people.
  2. The number of people on food stamps is about 16%. 50 million people.
  3. Poverty is growing: the official poverty level for a family of four is about $22,000.  A record 49 million people lived below the poverty line in 2010.
  4. 8.1 million children under age 18 are without health insurance (2007).
  5. #1 reason for bankruptcy is medical expenses.
  6. According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, 43% of Americans-140 million people-would fall into poverty within 3 months if they had a financial shock of some kind
  7. The safety net is under attack.


Slide 1 – Got Resilience? – This word “Resilience” is everywhere now. There are books, websites, community action plans, etc. We are arriving at the appropriate response to the conditions of life—economically, politically and environmentally. That is resilience. While we may begin to see some positive economic changes, millions of jobs have been lost to outsourcing and the recession and they are not coming back.  We are undergoing a broad shift toward a different kind of economy that is now under continuous and growing pressure.


Slide 2 – Facing Economic Change –What is happening in the economy is a result of policy decisions, corporate and banking practices going back 30-40 years.  All of us are now being affected in some way by these changes, by rising costs and dropping incomes, loss of benefits, savings, loss of property values, credit status, whatever it may be. Some of us are affected much more than others.  As a nation, we are facing economic insecurity to a degree that we have not faced for 80 years. (If possible, refer directly here to the examples that participants came up with in the Signs of the Times brainstorm.)


Slide 3- The Challenges of Our Time – We are also facing the challenges of climate change, limited resources, pollution and the end of cheap fossil fuel. All of these issues are completely inter-related and, as I said, their influence is growing.


Resilience is our response to all that.  These challenges boil down to two things:


No more debt-fueled economic growth.  Our economy has depended on huge levels of debt-fueled consumption in the form of our trade imbalance, our budget deficits and the increasing levels of consumer debt that have built up for decades. Increasing debt is the way that many people have financed their piece of the “American Dream.”


Slide 4—4a National Debt: Individuals, companies, banks, and even nations have borrowed more than they can ever pay back, either on the assumption that their houses would increase in value indefinitely or that their markets would expand forever. And the way that we are supposedly going to overcome all this is to “grow our way out,” which requires that even more debt be issued. We are now at the end of that rope. And we are seeing the most extreme example of what happens at the end of that rope in Greece right now—at least under the draconian policies of the neoliberal agenda that is now throwing all Greeks back into Third World status—except for the 1%, the bankers and the politicians.


Our economic model is damaging the life-support system of the planet. We have been stealing from the future for quite some time. Our throwaway culture that treats the atmosphere and the planet as an open sewer, imports so much of what we use from thousands of miles away, exploiting foreign workers, is now using one and a half times what the earth can naturally restore per year. Our future economic security requires us to live within the earth’s capacity to regenerate itself.



Slide 5- Now What?


Slide 6- Transition— We are living in a time of transition. We can either do what is necessary in a proactive and restorative way or we can allow circumstances to overwhelm us until they are beyond our control. The positive feedback loop of methane release is already underway in the Arctic and Siberia. The smallest ocean life at the bottom of the food chain is already under threat from acidification. The formula for change requires that we 1) localize our economies, 2) break out of our interpersonal isolation and separation, 3) learn how to support each other and 4) learn how we each can become producers—as opposed to mere consumers. Becoming a producer means looking at our personal talents, our skills and gifts to determine what it is we each can and want to contribute to a local sustainable economy. It might mean solarizing a home and selling energy back to the grid. It might mean taking responsibility for some of the administrative tasks of a local exchange trading system….or teaching others how to garden organically.


Slide 7 – Resilience Circles – A Resilience Circle is a process of sharing our understanding of these realities and preparing for a thriving future together. Besides getting to know each other and having fun, there are three purposes: learning, mutual aid, and social action. Another way of saying this is that we are working to Change the Story, Create Community, and Change the Rules.


Slides 8 – 11 – Learning: Changing the Story – One of the things we do in a Resilience Circle, through homework and group learning is look at the economy as a whole and come to a common understanding of how we got here. We also look at the messages of the culture that have we absorbed about the economy, specifically the money-based system of exchange.


Slide 8–  messages about economic success


Slide 9–   or failure?


Slide 10– You Are on Your Own


Slide 11–   or that everything is going to be fine if we can just be patient.


Slide 12-  or that the masters of money and the policy makers have everything under control and they will make sure it doesn’t all come crashing down.


Slide 13– The taboo against sharing how we are personally affected by the economy is one of the main reasons we remain isolated from each other.


Slide 14—Mainly, we continue to be told that the way out of this mess is to grow, for the economy to expand.


Slide 15— By being in a Resilience Circle, we are building Social Capital and Cultural Capital. We are choosing a different message about what it means to be successful and how we want to relate to other people about our financial lives.  After looking at the Old Story, we will spend our time looking at the New Story, the tools of a new economy that works for all –messages such as protecting our Natural Capital, realizing that more for me is also more for you and of course, acknowledging that civilization depends on realizing our place in the community of life on the planet.


Slide 16—  A very wise man named Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  He also said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re liable to end up someplace else.”


We are at a choice point, deciding between scarcity and fear; between isolation and self-blame; between scape-goating (it’s all the immigrants fault), a frontier mentality, a fortress mentality……


Slide 17–  or,… living for the common good, mutual aid, cooperation, co-creation of the future.


Slide 18– Resilience Circles take concrete steps toward enhancing personal security through “Mutual Aid,” by exploring the tools of a new economy. That means learning how we can personally contribute to a more self-reliant community. It also means we have an opportunity to identify our own needs and express them. These following slides show some examples of mutual aid activities.


Slide 19—A Weatherization Party – This is simply an example of a common community support venture. In winter or fall, circle members help button-up each others’ homes.  Each “host” buys materials to caulk windows, seal doors, and put up plastic around leaky windows. With a team working a couple of hours on a weekend, each household saves potentially hundreds of dollars on heating costs.


Slide 20– Time Banking – Circles might swap tips and ideas for saving money. Many also join “Time Banks” or start small ones in their groups to exchange their own time for services they need. The Bay Area Community Exchange in San Francisco now has 1200 members.


Slide 21 – Personal Debt Management – One of the first Common Security Clubs met to deal with their rising personal debts. They strategized together about reducing and eliminating debt, and make pacts to take debt-reduction steps together. At a circle in Boston, one member volunteered to share copies of her budget including income, major expenses, and debts. The group brainstormed ideas on how she could save money.  At the end of the session, others in the circle asked if they too could have “budget makeovers.”


Slide 22—Gift Circles – Resilient Circles also introduce the Gift Circle process, which allows us each to connect with our neighbors and offer our services as well as to receive assistance.


Slide 23 –Re-skilling— As you go through the curriculum, you will likely discover that people in your group know how to can food, or to sew, or garden, or repair leaky faucets.  Circles can meet to learn these skills from one another. There were re-skilling workshops appearing in the east bay very recently at the Albany Community Center and in Berkeley.


Slide 24 – Rent or Mortgage Parties – A rent or mortgage party is a way to say, hey, we’re all in this together. Those who can spare some cash–or goods or services that can free cash—contribute for those who are having a difficult time making ends meet.  Eviction vigils and blockages are another way of saying we have the power to stop banks and lawyers from putting our friends or neighbors out on the street.


Slide 25 – Social Action: Change the Rules – Many people believe that it’s not enough to change our lifestyles toward sustainability. There is still the dominant political and economic order that only benefits a few, that is plundering the planet and is driving us toward catastrophe.  And it must be slowed down. As Joanna Macy likes to say, we all have to become spiritual warriors, willing to go directly into the halls of power to dismantle the machine. Resilience Circles are taking part in social action campaigns such as Move Your Money, Move to Amend, US UNCUT, and other local initiatives as well.


Slide 26–   Once Circles actually get going, there are a few ground rules for what occurs there. So we thought we would include a quick review here….

Circles can also meet beyond the initial seven sessions.

Community Forum

Block Party

Emergency Preparedness

Time Banking

Transition 101

Your Money or Your Life—Vicky Robin

Book Club

Enhancing Personal Safety Nets and Networks

Community Garden

Up-cycling and Swaps