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Mythbusters and Frequently Asked Questions

Sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. Sustainable resilience is the ability of communities to confront changing conditions, absorb disturbances with flexibility, and utilize existing resources and local partnerships to achieve community goals without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Start with a baseline assessment to see where your community stands and to identify opportunities for growth. We have curated a range of baseline assessments from simple to complex and in-depth for you and your community to choose from.  Your community may be surprised to find how much it can benefit from adopting even simple sustainable resilience strategies. See Picking Your Path for more information.

Partnerships can be a catalyst to a sustainably resilient community, but the key is finding the right partners. Start by looking for partners within your local communities, such as community leaders, mayors, city managers, solid waste directors, water/wastewater plant managers, economic development leaders, sustainability directors, recreational leaders, recycling coordinators, educators, environmental organizations, emergency management leaders, etc. Then look at external partners, such as state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, health focused groups, and recreational organizations, which can offer collaboration opportunities tailored to your community's assessment priorities. Much more can be accomplished through partnerships; don’t be afraid to reach out to others and share your ideas and plans. See Potential Partners and Funding for more information and examples.

False! Sustainability and resilience are closely connected.  Sustainability is about utilizing the resources you have taking innovative actions to achieve goals while minimizing detrimental environmental, economic, and social impacts. Sustainability considers long-term outcomes for your community to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same or greater prosperity and quality of life as existing generations. Resilience is about planning for potential future outcomes, such as disasters, population change, and economic market changes in order to prepare your community to successfully rebound from challenges and to flourish. Sustainable resilience combines both of these long-term goals and asks communities to engage in common sense efforts to prepare for the future while considering existing resource limitations and innovative approaches to solving community problems and growing community health and prosperity. Start with a baseline assessment of your community today to identify your areas for growth. See the 5 Steps to Sustainable Resilience for more information.

False! Sustainable resilience is about finding a balance; we know that it’s cheaper to prepare in advance for challenges like natural disaster than it is to pick up the pieces afterward. Tennessee’s resources are limited; now is the time to prepare for how to conserve and carefully utilize our resources so that our children get to enjoy prosperity, too. Many sustainable resilience efforts, such as waste audits, can be undertaken at little to no cost and result in community savings.  Too, sustainable resilience takes seriously working with community businesses and organizations to spread the costs and benefits. Our website helps to identify potential partnership opportunities and potential businesses and organizations that can support your community in achieving its sustainable resilience goals. Finally, we’ve worked to identify existing grants, loans, and funding resources that can support capital intensive projects.  See Potential Partners and Funding for more information.

False. Communities of all sizes, households, and individuals can participate to be more sustainable today while also better preparing for a resilient future. With any initiative, it’s important to know where you are before you can develop plans for where you want to go. Start with a baseline assessment to see where your community stands and to identify opportunities for growth. Start with the low-hanging fruit or simpler, faster successes, which can serve as a boost for community engagement and provide momentum for tackling the larger projects. See the 5 Steps to Sustainable Resilience for free resources to perform a baseline assessment.

Sustainable resilience promotes local economic health, development of jobs, workforce development, and overall quality of life. Sustainable resilience looks at the whole picture. In fact, many prospective employers are looking for resourceful and well-rounded communities with sound financial management, strong education systems, a healthy business environment, and access to features such as greenways, parks, and recreational options to locate their families and subsequently new jobs. Pursuing sustainable resilience can open up new jobs in fields like composting, recycling, consulting, reused materials, and resilience and sustainability management. We challenge you to perform a basic assessment of your community efforts and then ask your community members to tell you their priorities for cost-savings and low-to-no-cost efforts for sustainable resilience moving forward. See the 5 Steps to Sustainable Resilience for free resources to perform a baseline assessment and learn how your community can save money and support economic development through sustainable resilience.

If we haven’t addressed a tool or resource that your community is interested in, contact us. We evaluated many resources that aren’t on our website and we’re always happy to look at new ones.

Stream Clean



Jennifer Tribble


Caleb H_edited

Caleb Hawkins