Resilient Embodied Action Davis-Yolo (READ-Y) is our newest Cool Davis working group and they are committed to a big task. Formed through the energy of its two principal organizers, Gail Kennedy and Jan Beange, READ-Y will work to improve the social and emotional resilience we will need as individuals and communities to respond positively to climate change induced stress and disruption.

Jan and Gail have both had training and professional experience working with children, families, and communities experiencing traumatic events. They are both California steering committee members of the International Transformational Resilience Coalition (ITRC) and have both been active with Resilient Yolo, an initiative through the Yolo County Board of Education to improve resiliency in children and families in the County.

Gail also works with ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) specifically with children and families experiencing trauma. Other working group members include a professional resilience trainer, a UC Davis researcher, and a retired nurse, as well as other community members interested in resilience training.

Developing resilient communities in the face of climate change

READ-Y working group members recognize that the realities of climate change create stress for individuals, families, and communities. If it hasn’t already, it certainly will in the future. Climate enhanced weather events such as drought, hurricanes, tornados, and sea-level rise have increased dramatically. Wildfires, also exacerbated by climate change, are becoming a year-round reality for all Californians.

The psycho-social impacts of climate change have not traditionally been recognized as a separate issue that must be addressed beyond the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the direct environmental effects. But they are very real and can negatively impact the smart and effective responses individuals, communities, and societies must make.

When faced with a threat, human beings naturally respond with a “flight or fight” response. Denial of climate change, even though demonstrably real, is quite probably one manifestation of this or perhaps a “freeze” response. An irrational and nonproductive over-reaction may be another.

READY-Y will work to give individuals and organizations the tools they need to regulate emotional responses, to respond rationally rather than just react. The goal of our newest working group is to give people the tools they need to develop and embrace new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and respond to climate change.

Recognizing our own reactions to stress is one of the first steps in building resilience in ourselves, our workplaces, and in our community. Read this background article on developing resilient communities.

Managing stress around COVID-19 and our shelter in place directive

The current COVID-19 pandemic currently upturning our communities and individual lives is an unprecedented event in the lives of anyone under 102 years old, the length of time since the influenza pandemic. While there’s no evidence COVID-19 is directly related to climate change, READ-Y members recognize it is an opportunity to teach resilience skills that are transferrable to climate change induced stressors and to meet an immediate need at the same time.

Gail and Jan are working to develop and host a series of community one-hour Zoom events that will bring people together to educate and facilitate discussion about: community resources,  practical personal resilience skills, responding in a healthy way to stress and major life disruption, and community/organization level response to disruption and trauma. In one-hour virtual workshops, designed for Davis and Yolo County community members, participants will learn about the different types of stress, how the brain and body respond to it, and practical tools to help manage it.

These early community trainings were not part of READ-Y’s original goals. But one of the hallmarks of resilience is flexibility, and in that spirit, the group is developing these trainings. Stay tuned to Cool Davis announcements for specific dates and times. See below for proposed topis:

READY plans to host a series of webinars beginning in mid April.
1. Practical Resilience: where to get and offer help in Davis – Yolo
2. Community discussion about general practical: physical resilience in our community
3. Personal Resilience: the science of stress and trauma and the practical skills for healthy response
4. Community discussion (continues)
5 Resilient Organizations: how a trauma informed organization reduces ongoing stress and community trauma
6 Community discussion (continues)
We hope to start the journey towards a common language for personal Resilience in Davis -Yolo and a common and widely practiced set of personal skills/tools (possibly including organizational policy and procedures that support trauma informed operations).

Dedicated to a community resilience train-the-trainer model

The original and still primary goal of READ-Y is to host a Community Resilience Model teacher training for 10 to 25 community members. These trained individuals, in turn, will be able to conduct trainings for community members, organizations, and businesses in the methods needed to develop resilience in Davis and Yolo County in the face of impending climate change. READ-Y members will also work collaboratively with other Cool Davis working groups and coalition members to share their knowledge and expertise in how to develop resilience in community members and institutions.

We heartily welcome READ-Y as the newest member of the Cool Davis clan.


Gail Kennedy and Jan Beange, two principal organizers of the new working group READ-Y, presenting to the Cool Davis Coalition February 2020. Photo courtesy Johan Verink.

Cool Davis currently has six working groups including READ-Y. Working groups form to promote a specific project or to work towards a set of identified goals. Some accomplish their purpose and disband. Others are ongoing.