The Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC) is a community of ”grasstops” leaders and organizations who work at the regional and translocal scale in the USA. The “grasstops” are influential network hubs for grassroots leaders and organizations in what is sometimes called the grassroots organizing sector (GRO). Our local work causes powerful impact within our regions, and then our regional impact shifts policy and resources at state levels and beyond.

Global resilience grows from local grassroots: healthy, just, and sustainable roots in local communities. The term grassroots is often used by political organizers who want power in numbers, in order to pass policies. However, rather than simply the means to a political end, the grassroots is really the community heart of human society. It is the organized power of local community members to determine their common values and address their common needs. The grassroots is the local community commons.

TRCC “grasstops” members have both grassroots influence in the streets and institutional access in local government, regional boards, state and national legislatures, and all the way to the UN. Several members organize across the whole scale spectrum from local actions to global events like COP21. We create global collective impact anchored in the local power of the people.

We consider regional-translocal grasstops resilience networks like TRCC to be the tipping point for reaching global resilience.

  • Regions are geographically small enough to support ongoing relationships among stewards of the local community commons (food, water, energy, etc), yet big enough to have the capacity to effect change at scale. Regional, translocal, and transregional networks build relationships, share best practices, and work together to leverage local resilience to reach large-scale impact (sometimes called scaling-across).  
  • Grasstops leaders are in a position to communicate to the layers “below” and “above” them in the social change ecosystem: the most effective intervention point according to systems-centered theory. Globally, regional and translocal networks are the middle system between the small-scale local (people, organizations, small towns/cities) and the large-scale infrastructures (nation, transnational, global).

What problems are we trying to fix?

To optimize global collective impact, we are trying to fix the silo syndrome, inclusion inequity, and the resource rut by focusing at the grasstops tipping point. The silo syndrome is when we leaders and organizations work so hard to address urgent eco-social issues that we are effectively isolated in silos, not able to partner with nor sometimes even aware of crucial allies. It takes the collective wisdom of multiple stakeholders at the table to recognize and act together on complex, interdependent issues that no one group can possibly have the perspective or resources to address alone.

Inclusion inequity addresses the lack of representation of diverse voices in institutions that make decisions impacting the commons. In deep democracy, people who live with the consequences of decisions make those decisions.

The resource rut refers to the chronic under-funding of eco-justice grassroots community resilience organizations. The resource rut is a symptom of the loss of health, equity, and vitality in our local communities due to economic and social inequities on a large scale. Today’s economic and political systems are out of balance. The deck is stacked against the local. Large-scale infrastructures tend to be run by business and civic institutions that often do not have effective public engagement across the social diversity spectrum.

Getting out of the resource rut by re-balancing the power relationship with large-scale institutions is essential to community resilience. Even the most remote communities are part of geo-political regions within nations and are affected by food, water, and mineral hunters, sea level rise, extreme storms, and other “outside” influences. One strategy is to work with large-scale institutions to partner with allies closer to the local roots to run programs. Institutions who want to partner can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of grassroots groups. Where do they start? Who do they trust?

The grasstops is a key bridge between the local grassroots and larger-scale institutions.