Community Resilience Organizations – lovingly called CROs – was born from the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. As we watched the response to Irene, we recognized that those most impacted by climate disasters and climate change should be supported by a justice-oriented grassroots organizing hub. So, we built one. We work with individuals, organizations, and coalitions to build networks of care and repair that center the frontline communities most impacted by climate change. We know that we cannot build climate refuge without the leadership of Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), trans, queer, disabled, neurodivergent, low-income, survivors, and undocumented people.
Our work of building climate refuge is centered on five pillars, all in service of building a social fabric of alternative systems and networks of care and repair. These pillars are: managing a Grassroots Organizing Hub for aligned, anti-oppression, climate justice projects; Community Wellness Program; coalition building and convening; creation of community networks; and stewardship of the Community Resilience Assessment. You can learn more about each of these pillars here.
In 2023, with funding from VTCHEP, we expanded our Community Wellness Program offering. These wellness gifts were created to make a diversity of healing modalities available to the community caregivers and organizers from marginalized identities. We want to ensure that the people doing work on the frontlines of the climate crisis response in Vermont have access to whole-person care including acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage, herbalism, sound healing, and other modalities. We have seen time and time again the impact of taking care of frontline responders through affirming, flexible health services. CROs takes an expansive approach to defining “resilience” and we feel this offering is central to building a sustainable movement for our people, and for the planet.
In a time of acute stress following this summer’s flooding, the Community Wellness Program connected a Black community organizer with free Black hair services in preparation for a professional opportunity. This organizer felt confident and had a functional hair style for the coming weeks.
We also offered vouchers to a regional BIPOC affinity group that was able to share the gifts with the members and volunteers in their multiracial organizing efforts.
Finally, during this busy and disruptive summer, one of our networks’ Eastern Medicine practitioners was able to offer free and sliding scale appointments to patients who were otherwise unable to pay for follow-up treatments.
Our organization was founded during a crisis to better prepare our communities for future crises. Since we first came together, we have watched the needs of our community grow and change, and we strive to be a flexible, reliable, climate-justice organization that can meet those growing and changing needs. We have been a thought and action partner through a pandemic, political unrest, continued systemic violence against communities, and climate catastrophes. We are here to ensure the leaders, doers, and dreamers of grassroots projects are able to focus their energy on direct services, training programs, and community building while we handle the financial, legal, and administrative operations.