This study discusses the role of the socio-cognitive setting of the village in the development of effective DRR on the Island of Simeulue, Aceh, Indonesia. Simeulue was the first place struck by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but suffered less than 10 casualties. A wider program of qualitative research focusing on narrative interviews examined the cultural drivers of the island's DRR found that a traditional story related in and about local villages provided local people with intimate spatial knowledge and self-efficacy to take appropriate action at the sign of onset of a tsunami. A diverse literature relating to the influence of local places on individual and community identity indicates that the integration of social and place orientation can contribute to effective DRR. A review of the alignment of investment in integrating place, community empowerment and resilience is discussed. It is proposed that investment in ‘villaging’ is not only warranted, it has the potential to generate transformative change in resilience and DRR.