The New Green: Communities Resilient to Change
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 00:09
In the coming years, it is quite possible that climate change will cause the systems that we normally rely upon for everyday life to become severely disrupted, or to fail altogether. This might be the result of tremendous natural disasters or due to social, political, and economic tumult (for example, a naturally or politically induced gasoline shortage.) The means does not really matter. The essential question is: are we ready? Could our communities withstand the challenge of being “cut off” from our normal consumption pathways?
Resiliency is a term that is used to describe how well a community can adapt to change. Building resiliency might mean developing alternative food sources that are not dependent on external factors (for example, buying from local farms rather than shipping it all in on gas-fueled trucks), encouraging the growth of local jobs and skills or putting alternative transportation infrastructure into place. The goal is to make your community self-sufficient, so that it could continue to function even without support from the outside world. This is not to promote the idea that the outside world is evil or somehow corrupt, but rather to ensure that the community’s basic needs can be met no matter what happens because all of the necessities are sourced locally. The problem is that many communities are currently dependent upon entities that are not necessarily accountable to them. For example, relying on corporations like Wal-Mart, CITGO or Bank of America is not a resilient strategy because at the end of the day these companies have bottom-lines that are not based on the welfare of the communities that they “serve.” Again, it’s not that resilient communities are anti-business (in fact, stimulating the local economy is an essential aspect of building self-sufficiency.) It is simply not strategically intelligent for a citizen to stake their livelihood in an entity that doesn’t know their name and probably won’t be there to help them when they need it most.
Building resiliency in your community will address several serious problems all at once, but it does not need to be based on a “doom-and-gloom” mentality. In fact, that is probably the surest way to make your venture fail. Instead, build community strength through applied positivity, creativity and most importantly, fun. Exciting projects could include creating a time bank, local currencies, edible landscapes, busways and bikeways or local cooperatives for banking, food, electricity and housing. The ideas are endless and should be unique to your community. The Internet is a great resource to network and learn what could work in your hometown or city.