The Karuna Center - Do No Harm

Community Resilience and Engagement

Multi-Sector Collective Impact

Community Resilience and Engagement (CRE) is a culturally informed, community-centric model, using the principles of reflective and transformational dialogue, harm reduction, and qualitative research. CRE supports co-creating strategies that enhance social equity, collective action, and builds capacity for resilience in response to the effects of negative social and environmental impacts.

Community resilience is the capability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent changes. (CARRI 2013)


  • Supports community members and stakeholders to discover, assess, and evaluate existing strengths, challenges, and vulnerabilities related to issues that impact their ability to address social and environmental change.
  • Opens space for communication and collaboration to ensure the needs and interests of the community are heard and respected.
  • Provides an opportunity for individual representation in a safe and inclusive environment.
  • Builds upon existing strengths to create responsive, equitable, and just strategies.
  • Strengthens and mobilizes community participation in designing and implementing projects, local systems, and other strategic actions.


  • Identifies current and future issues of concern related to social and environmental change.
  • Builds a foundation for culturally relevant and strategic problem solving, collaboration, communication, and exchange of resources. 
  • Develops and implements safeguards that are equitable, community-centric, and reduce harm.
  • Mobilizes, organizes, and supports communities in addressing adaptation and mitigation efforts.
  • Creates and enhances respectful and equitable spaces that allow for further community engagement.



CRE is a participatory process using principles and practices of reflective and transformational dialogue. Community members and stakeholders convene to discover, assess, and evaluate existing strengths, challenges, and vulnerabilities that impact their ability to understand and respond to  challenging social and environmental issues.The process is typically designed and facilitated by dialogue facilitators and local community members (cultural liaisons). CRE focuses on emerging opportunities for multi-sector engagement in decision-making and strategic implementation of community-based strategies.

  • Addresses barriers, challenges, needs, interests, and opportunities.
  • Generates suggestions and strategies for future exploration.
  • Explores ways to work together in community to support engagement and collective action.
  • Addresses historical and current effects of individual and community trauma that negatively impact the capacity  to be resilient.
  • Determines actions, ways of responding, and changes for greater overall impact.


Qualitative and ethnographic research is a process of naturalistic inquiry through direct observation, individual in-depth interviews, and/or group dialogue to gain an understanding of social phenomena within the participants’ natural environment. Using dynamic processes, this research method focuses on the “why” rather than the “what” of social phenomena and the direct experiences of participants as meaning-making agents inside the context of their views and lived experiences. Skillful use of qualitative research enables researchers to get a sense of how individuals and communities view their quality of life, safety, and sense of belonging and place.

  • Uses semi-structured data collection methods conducted in naturalistic settings to obtain a greater depth of understanding of individual and/or community experiences.
  • Gathers useful information about the point of views, goals, and knowledge of issues in specific cultures and contexts. 
  • Identifies which responses to focus on and which changes might lead to far greater overall impact. 
  • Helps communities understand the intersection of adaptation, mitigation, and building community resilience.
  • Provides a comprehensive analysis of collected qualitative data which helps guide the process of making critical decisions and strategic plans.