Resilience refers to the ability of a system, whether it be individuals, small groups, communities or whole economies, to hold together and maintain their ability to function in the face of shocks from the outside.
In the 21st Century we are increasingly dependent on large fragile systems to feed and sustain us. Yet we regularly hear about the numerous financial, geo-political and climatic instabilities that threaten the privileged Western way of life.
Cracks in these systems are becoming evident. Personal and national debt levels are higher than ever and still increasing. Our per capita consumption of oil products has never been so high, and still we need more to feed insatiable growth. The supply of oil has peaked, and although it may not be immediately apparent, signs that energy decent has started are beginning to show.
We are placated by authorities that there is no shortage of oil, while superpowers manoeuvre war ships in middle east. At the same time we are told to reduce our energy consumption for the good of the climate. Governments are too self-interested to make the required changes to enable benefits that deliver beyond the end of their term in office. And so we are faced with an inevitable climate crisis that will have unimaginable consequences for millions of people.
I might normally apologise for painting such a grim picture but these things are happening now on a global scale.
Resilience & Me
I take solace that the one positive difference that I can make is what I choose to do locally, here and now. So I have resolved to generate and promote resilience for my family and my community to prepare for the energy decent via this blog.
For me specially, resilience means:
- Having the ability to grow at least some of our food and medicine, and source some of our basic needs as locally as possible;
- Reducing our dependency on outside and non-renewable resources so that we can withstand impacts caused by disruption to food or energy supply chains;
- Becoming resilient in a way that is regenerative to the environment, and enhances rather than depletes fertility and fecundity;
- To be able to do this in a way that is beneficial to our local wildlife, our neighbours and our community.
No one person or family on their own can be completely self-sufficient, which is what makes the tapestry of human community so rich. We are social beings and even the most introverted of us need others in order to thrive. Community is essential in order to be resilient, so I am grateful that you have joined me on this journey.
David Holmgren, co-founder of the permaculture movement, paints the picture of Aussie Street in his book RetroSuburbia. Aussie Street is an imagined story of an urban community that starts in the golden age of suburban growth in the frugal fifties, through the extravagant eighties and nineties into the low energy future of the (currently fictional) ‘Second Great Depression’ of the 2020s. In his story there is a return to higher density living arrangements, a localisation of resources and less time spent away from home as food production and jobs are localised and people work together to get to grips with energy descent.
This is the kind of future I like to imagine for Berhampore. We live is such an amazing community. I’ve been blown away at how connected, engaged and friendly the Berhampore community is. Significant change is ahead of us whether we want it or not. I like to imagine David Holmgren’s future for Berhampore too.