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Getting Started

Building of community resilience is an ongoing and cyclical process that incorporates development of a common vision, assessment of current status, priority setting, and taking action. COPEWELL provides tools and resources for each part of this process which can be chosen by communities depending on their needs, resources, and desired approach. These tools are flexible and can be used together or in part. Users should feel empowered to alter tools, concepts, and components of COPEWELL to best fit their needs.


Where to Begin?

First, determine what you are trying to accomplish in terms of assessing and advancing your community’s resilience. Are you trying to compare your progress with your neighbors? Are you trying to get the right people in the room for discussion? Are you trying to design and mobilize cross sector efforts to strengthen resilience? COPEWELL’s suite of tools are not an all-or-none approach; you can choose which tools work best for your circumstances and goals for your community.

We suggest that all users of COPEWELL tools familiarize themselves with the COPEWELL framework in order to orient themselves within COPEWELL’s model for community resilience.

  • Resilience is the ability of a community to withstand the impact of and recover from an event. (Resilience = Resistance + Recovery).
  • What we really care about is community functioning and how fast the community can get back to at least it’s pre-event level, if not better.
  • The model recognizes that pre-event functioning affects post event functioning.
  • Several “Domains” (both resistance related and recovery related) impact the shape of the resilience curve.
  • Work on these domains and/or on pre-event functioning itself can make a difference in how fast and how well a community recovers.
  • This framework is meant to engage people across sectors and allow them to “see themselves” in this work.

The flowchart below provides examples of questions that you might be interested in exploring, as well as the associated COPEWELL tool to begin answering the question. Please note that these questions are meant to be examples and are not at all comprehensive of the questions that you could ask while using COPEWELL.

COPEWELL, How to get started flowchart


COPEWELL framework Computational model & data Self-assessment tool Resources for Change


A Process Made by You, For You

Although we suggest that you begin by reviewing the COPEWELL framework and instructional guides, your next steps with COPEWELL are up to you.

Rather than prescribe a step-by-step process, the COPEWELL suite of tools can be used by communities at any stage of their resilience strengthening efforts. Some communities may be further along in the self-assessment process and simply want resources for implementation. Some communities could benefit from creating a self-assessment workshop(s) among key stakeholders to more fully assess their status in specific domains and target efforts moving forward. Wherever you are in your process, there is an associated tool to be used.

The diagram illustrates the cyclical nature of the COPEWELL model and associated tools at different points in the resilience strengthening process.

COPEWELL cyclical process diagram

What Tools You Will Find Here



Component Pieces

COPEWELL Framework

Develop a common vision for community resilience to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page

Visual diagram and detailed description of the interplay of societal factors impacting community resilience

Computational Model

“Top-down” comparison of oneself to others – motivate through spirit of competition

Map / table / graph output of county-level resilience according to 43 validated metrics

Self-Assessment Rubrics

“Bottom-up” comparison oneself to oneself over time— motivate by tracking own progress over time

Worksheets: systematic scoring guide to evaluate current progress

Workshop guides: detailed implementation guides to gather diverse stakeholders to complete worksheets and create action plans

Resources for Change

Inspire actionable steps with resources and interventions implementation in the community

Curated menu of resources directly mapped to each component of the COPEWELL framework