Building Community Resilience (BCR) is a national collaborative that seeks to improve the health and life outcomes of children, families, and communities.  Over the past three years, BCR teams have helped build and strengthen the buffers that can prevent negative outcomes associated with adverse childhood experiences (ACES), particularly in the context of adverse community environments (ACEs)- the “Pair of Aces.”

Teams from five cities across the country come together twice per year for a three-day Building Community Resilience conference to share stories of success, learn from challenges, discuss current events and policy implications and engage with tools that help our communities not just to ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity, but to bounce forward.  Our Portland team at Trillium Group, Trillium Family Services, the Trillium Family Foundation, and Keep Oregon Well had the honor of co-hosting the Fall 2017 meeting in partnership with the BCR team from George Washington University and Concordia University.

Please read on to see photos, videos and descriptions of what we learned!

On Day 1 participants had the choice of attending one of two conversational gatherings (or “salon’s”) to share experiences in trauma-informed practices and policies. The first salon highlighted Trillium Family Services’ journey in implementing the Sanctuary Model of trauma-informed care. Trillium’s own Mary Buzzell, Kim Scott, Jamie Vandergon, and Caitlin Young shared philosophical and tangible experiences of organizational transformation.

The second ‘salon’ addressed trauma-informed transformations in education and featured Sophie Goff (Trillium Family Services), Logan Lynn (Trillium Group), Ann Riddle (Centennial School District), Bob Stewart (Gladstone School District), and Karmin Williams (Faubion School).  This conversation explored the dynamic process of implementing trauma-informed practices in educational settings.

Day 2:

Our second day kicked-off with a panel titled ‘Trauma-Informed Transformations in Education.’ This panel engaged community voices, educators and health partners about Trillium’s 3toPhD partnership at Faubion school in Portland, OR.  Moderated by Wendy Ellis of the Building Community Resilience collaborative, the panel included Kimberley Dixon (active community member and member of the school board), Chuck Eggert (basics), Dr. Susan Dierauf (Kaiser Permanente), Jennifer McCalley (Faubion School), Sheryl Reinisch (Concordia University), Jamie Vandergon (Trillium Family Services) and Gary Withers (Concordia University).  The panel discussed the benefits of our cross-system collaboration and the value of creativity to sustain forward momentum.

Our second panel of the day took a deep dive into the topic of housing and gentrification.

This panel explored the impacts of gentrification and displacement, and how place-based initiatives that empower communities and better align resources can make for more resilient and healthy neighborhoods.  This panel was moderated by Ian Galloway of the Federal Reserve Bank and included Jenny Glass (Rosewood Initiative) and Sarah Schubert (Housing Solutions).

The Trauma-Informed Approaches to Justice-Involved Youth panel explored how trauma-informed policies and practices throughout the criminal justice system, from police and attorneys to judges, can lead to better outcomes for justice-involved youth and their communities. Panelists also discussed how best to partner with the criminal justice system. This panel was moderated by the Honorable Amy Holmes Hehn (Multnomah County Circuit Court) and included Alex Bassos (Metropolitan Public Defender’s Services, Multnomah County), Officer Jason Jones (Portland Police Bureau) and Judith Swanson (Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office).

Principal Jennifer McCalley guided the group on an afternoon tour of the Faubion School.  Participants had a chance to see firsthand the trailblazing educational model that is 3toPhD.  3toPhD is a collective impact partnership between Trillium, Concordia University, Portland Public Schools, Kaiser Permanente and basics which aims to create safer, healthier and more educated communities from early learning through Pursuing one’s Highest Dreams (PhD).

The morning of our 3rd day kicked-off with an inspiring reflection by William Dietz (Redstone School of Public Health at George Washington University).  Bill reminded us that “change moves at the speed of trust and trust moves at the speed of relationships.”  The focus of this collaborative is relationship-based, and we cannot do this work in isolation if we wish to succeed in making lasting, sustainable change for the communities we love and serve.

Next, our friends at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) facilitated a discussion and exercise for sustaining motivation in a changing context that provided insight into building partnerships with public health systems.  Barbara Laymon (NACCHO) encouraged the virtue of patience and meeting people where they are through the adage; “You can’t make a bean grow by pulling on it!”- NACCHO

Our first panel of the morning entitled ‘Connecting Trauma-Informed Practice in Response to America’s Opioid Crisis’ was moderated by Mandy Davis of Trauma-Informed Oregon and included participation from Lydia Bartholow (City Central Concern), Tom Lottman (Children, Inc.) and Jackie Contreras (Casey Family Programs).  Panelists shared their experiences responding to the opioid crisis, using trauma-informed principles and practices. Examples included services and response efforts to individuals, families, and communities throughout the nation.

After lunch, the group transitioned into a panel moderated by Cyreena Boston-Ashby of Oregon Public Health Institute.  This panel, entitled ‘Addressing Inequity Across Sectors: Community-based and Jurisdictional Solutions to Systemic Oppression’ supported panelists in sharing their organization’s approach to addressing health equity, specifically addressing the trauma caused by racism and other forms of oppression, and the data and best practices shaping their respective work.  This moderated Q&A discussion included panelists Theresa O’Donnell (Resilient Dallas), Jasmin Williams (Resilient KC), Dan Ryan (All Hands Raised and a Trillium Family Services Board Member) and Rachael Banks (Multnomah County Health Department).

Our fall 2017 convening concluded with a fascinating policy workshop moderated by former Obama staffer Jeff Hild of George Washington University, with insight from Laura Bernsten (Senate Finance Committee of Senator Ron Wyden), Kim Meinert (National Governors Association) and Theresa O’Donnell (Resilient Dallas).  This panel explored both substantive policy developments and opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels related to ACEs, trauma, and cross-system collaboration, as well as tips and tools on how to effectively and strategically engage in public policy development, education, and advocacy.

The radical community engagement work of Building Community Resilience is centered in cross-sector collaborations that lead to community-driven impact.  In her closing remarks, Wendy Ellis, Founder and Project Director of the BCR collaborative at George Washington University invited us all to hold the wisdom in curiosity as an agent for progress in the simple phrase “You’ve seen one community- you’ve seen one community.”  Remain curious, celebrate strengths and practice presence with the people around you!

Watch the latest in the BCR Video Series: “This is Building Community Resilience in Action” here:

Check out more photos from the week here:



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