If you’re a lazy pessimist, times are good. After all, you don’t have to look far to see evidence that things are tough and poised to get tougher.
There’s a growing wealth chasm between the rich and, well, everyone else. Significant changes to our climate are already underway and are now largely unavoidable. Our industrial food system is having a malignant influence on people’s health and our politicians. And we are going to increasingly desperate lengths to feed our fossil fuel energy addiction. The list goes on.
And while national and international leadership are key to navigating the bumpy road ahead, thus far, that leadership is sadly wanting.
I’ll be honest—in the face of all this, I’d probably count myself among the lazy pessimists. But having kids ruined both the laziness and the pessimism. I’m sure many of you can relate.
But that doesn’t mean that we can ignore the painful reality that’s just outside the window. And if you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what can be done. One approach is to build resilient communities:
- Resilient – because the complex economic, energy, and environmental challenges we face not only require solutions to make problems go away, but responses that recognize our vulnerabilities, build our capacities, and enable us to adapt to an increasingly unpredictable future.
- Communities – because the future is grounded in local relationships—relationships with the ecological resources that feed and sustain us, among families and neighbors, and through the institutions we use to govern ourselves.
Thankfully, a small but growing movement of engaged citizens, community groups, businesses, and local elected officials is leading the way. These early actors have worked to reduce unbridled consumption, produce local food and energy, invest in local economies, and preserve local ecosystems. While diverse, the essence of these efforts is the same: a recognition that the world is changing and the old way of doing things no longer works.
A few months ago, my organization, Post Carbon Institute, launched a new website called ‘resilience.org’ to provide connections for concerned folks just like you and me: connections to timely information and thought-provoking essays; connections to like-minded grassroots groups and nonprofit organizations that are working to build robust, thriving communities; and connections to innovative resources and models that help us individually and collectively face these challenges head on.
Here are just few recent examples of articles and resources you can find at resilience.org:
- All placemaking is creative: How a shared focus on place builds vibrant destinations.
- The year of fruit: On neighbors coming together to share the bounty.
- Energising Money: A report by New Economics Foundation on developing energy-related monetary systems.
• A conversation with Mark Lakeman of City Repair: On the development of sustainable public places.
As part of this task we’re also publishing a series of Community Resilience Guides to capture some of the most promising and replicable of these efforts: investing in the local economy, producing community-owned renewable energy, and growing local food security.
These are uncertain, challenging times. But they are also full of opportunity. And so if you’re like me (and the thousands of other folks who visit resilience.org regularly) and feel compelled to take action, I hope you’ll get engaged in the necessary, daunting, and rewarding task of building resilience at home and in your community. It’s all-hands-on-deck!
Asher Miller is the Executive Director of Post Carbon Institute and on the board of Transition US. Visit <resilience.org> to find a resilience group near you. Source: Center for a New American Dream, March 7, 2013. <http://www.newdream.org/blog/a-new-dream-built-on-resilience>