Rob Hopkins, founder of the British Transition movement, reflects on the key concept of resilience:
“The concept of resilience was, for me, a ‘eureka moment’ while I was sitting in on David Fleming’s teaching on the Life After Oil course at Schumacher College.
“For ecologists, resilience refers to the ability of an ecosystem to withstand shock. Ecosystems with increased complexity are, it has been observed, more able to withstand shocks”.
Inset are three paragraphs from David’s dictionary ‘Lean Logic’:
The first is that a resilient system – a complex system as distinct from a merely chaotic one – is usually capable of dealing with disturbances and maintaining its stability, its homeostasis, for a long time. (40)
(A) key property of resilience is diversity and all that it implies in terms of different solutions to the problems and opportunities faced by people and communities in different places. (187)
“Think rainforest and wheatfield. In a stunning book I am reading at the moment called The Wheelwright’s Shop by George Sturt (published in 1923), the reader is given a unique insight into a resilient rural economy at work. It is a study of cart makers in a rural English village and what it took to make a traditional horse-drawn cart. It is a rivetting and compelling look at the interconnection between the local woodlands, those who managed them, those who felled and transported the trees, the highly skilled wheelwrights, and the whole complex infrastructure that supported this local scale industry. These craftsmen, apprenticed into the trade at a young age, were skilled at a level hard to imagine today, making wheels from oak, ash and beech that have lasted over 100 years.
“Whereas our pre-industrial society was built on the foundations of such complexity and webs of interconnections, cheap oil has allowed us to pitch this whole concept into the skip and replace it with linear models and monocultures”. Fleming’s warning:
Concentration into just a few giant food-production centres removes all defences against the spread of trouble, which will ripple through into the wider industry, giving our security against famine the resilience of a house of cards. (202)
Rob Hopkins reflects: “Now we are coming to realise that quite possibly our very survival depends on our ability to rebuild this complexity and interconnectedness”.
“Happy Relocalisers, Doomers, Wheelwrights and the concept of Resilience” by Rob Hopkins, published by Transition Culture