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Beyond Resilience: Jamestown Flood Bowls

Authors: Michelle F. Fox, Melissa Chua, & the Resilience Narratives team

Jamestown, Colorado is a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains with a population of only ~200 people. In September of 2013, Jamestown was devastated by the "Boulder Flood of 2013", which destroyed much of their town and took one of their community member's life.

In response, Joy Boston, a ceramic artist, had an idea to use art as a way of bringing the community together and healing from this terrible disaster. This project is not only a means of coping and healing as a community, but also in building social cohesion—an element that is critical to a community and individual's capacity to recover from a disaster.

Initially, the flood bowls were gifted to flood recovery volunteers. Months later, Joy and her neighbors continue to make and sell the bowls as a means of raising funds for the town's continued recovery process.

In addition to the Jamestown Flood Bowls, the Resilience Narratives team has produced a portfolio of communications products which includes:

  • A series of short 3–4-minute documentaries on resilience which draws from experiences out of South and Southeast Asia and the United States. Stories are told through the voice of experts and community members who are engaged in community resilience building activities.
  • Prayer wheels commissioned by Chris Moench. The work is titled "A tale of two contrasting realities" and tells the story of threat and hope in our world. 
  • Shadow puppet theater, developed in collaboration with the Firefly Shadow Theater, which tells the tale of resilience and vulnerability through the use of shadows and light.   
  • Multi-media exhibitions, focused group discussions, and workshops, which use simple hands on games to open concepts of resilience and the complexity of urban systems to a broad range of audiences and actors.
  • All of the above creative communication products are informed by rigorous research and writing which takes form in working papers, publications, and peer-review journal articles.

These products are meant to contribute substantively to the understanding of what resilience is and what it is not. Pursuing this creative communications project has opened the opportunity to explore new methods of communicating science, while honoring the nuances and complexity of the subject matter. The Resilience Narratives has allowed us to enhance the quality of communications with our intercultural and inter-disciplinary audience. 

To see more from the Resilience Narratives Team, please see: www.i-s-e-t.org/beyondresilience


Citation: Fox, M. F., Chua, M., & the Resilience Narratives team (2015). Jamestown Flood Bowls [Video]. Boulder, Colorado: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International.

Funded by: The Rockefeller Foundation