Franklin James Cook

Gathering Shows Power of Community Resilience

In Prevention on May 14, 2009 at 7:54 am
Community members affected by the recession form a circle to begin a sharing session at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. (David Frey, Aspen Daily News)

Community members affected by the recession form a circle to begin a sharing session at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. (David Frey, Aspen Daily News)

In a May 13 story for the Aspen Daily News, correspondent David Frey reports on a notable example of a community’s resiliency in the face of hard economic times.

They were architects and accountants, construction workers, carpenters and computer repairers, natural gas workers and natural food sellers, reflexologists and real estate agents. But they had one thing in common: The recession has left them looking for ways to make ends meet … They gathered at the Glenwood Springs Community Center to meet with others in similar situations and brainstorm solutions in what was at turns a networking session and a group therapy session.

Tonja LaFrenz, owner of a temp agency in Rifle, partnered with two community members, Nick Isenberg of Glenwood Springs and Wewer Keohane of Carbondale, to make the meeting happen.

LaFrenz said she organized the gathering after clients for her agency dwindled. She was losing business herself, she said, and she had few jobs to offer people who called. When one person called contemplating suicide, followed by another offering his BMW in exchange for a job, she decided she needed to do something to help.

The gathering showed how a community coming together around a common problem–informally and with an open-ended agenda–can help address even the most stressful problems.

Many swapped business cards, but the meeting couldn’t promise jobs. Some participants said they hoped to see the gatherings become monthly. Others planned to set up a Web site to coordinate bartering services for people who couldn’t pay. Others left with something less tangible. “Hope,” one woman said. The woman beside her agreed. “Hope,” she said. So did the man beside her. “Hope,” he said.

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/GatheringResilience .]

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