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Keith Shaw - Resilience as Ordinary Magic Keith Shaw - Resilience as Ordinary Magic Presentation Transcript

  • Resilience as ‘Ordinary Magic’: A Transformational Approach to Community Resilience Professor Keith Shaw Northumbria University Newcastle UK
  • My Background • Political scientist relatively new to research on resilience • Research for UK Government on regenerating poor communities and on the importance of empowerment • Published on: Local resilience and climate change: Resilient organizations: A strategic approach to local resilience (in a UK context) • As resilience is debated within social sciences, a critical literature is emerging
  • Community Resilience • Allows for an integrated focus across disciplines and policy sectors • It is well-suited to many of the challenges facing poorer communities • On the ground, it is a more meaningful and less problematic term than sustainability • Allows for a focus on a more radical agenda: one that adresses issues of social and environmental justice View slide
  • Three Reflections on Community Resilience • Reframing Resilience as a Transformational Agenda • Re-emphasising human agency: identifying the importance of individuals, their social capital and wider community assets • Devolving power and encouraging local diversity: allowing creativity and innovation to flow from the bottom-up View slide
  • 1. Reframing Resilience as Transformation • Bouncing forward not back, transformation not a return to the status quo • Transformation for what ? values of fairness, social justice, equity • Its about innovation, creativity, intuition, risk- taking e.g. Transition Towns Movement
  • The Transition Towns Movement: Totnes UK • Housing (co-housing; eco-homes; community-land-trust) • Community ownership of economic resources • Renewable Energy (Community Wind Farm) • Garden Share/Incredible Edibles • Skill-shares • Local Currency (The Totnes Pound) • Learning across the UK and Europe Resilience is not collapsing at the first sight of oil or food shortages’ and adapting to disturbances by ‘rebuilding local agriculture and food production, localising energy production, rethinking healthcare, rediscovering local building materials in the context of zero energy building, and rethinking how waste is managed. To build the town's resilience, that is, its ability to withstand shocks from the outside, through being more self reliant in areas such as food, energy, health care, jobs and economics.
  • 2. Human Agency Matters: Understanding Communities • Systems, Structures and Strategies can reduce individuals to aggregates, variables or a statistic • Need to capture voices, narratives, stories : how do we do that ? • Community assets and social capital integral to resilience • Generic category of `The community` downplays both diversity and the distinctiveness of place which are crucial for developing resilience • Avoiding the `heroic`: we all have the ability to be resilient
  • Resilience as Ordinary Magic ‘What began as a quest to understand the extraordinary has revealed the power of the ordinary. Resiliency does not come from rare and special qualities, but from the everyday magic of ordinary … minds, brains, and bodies of children, in their families and relationships, and in their communities. (Masten (2001)
  • 3. Community Resilience cannot be imposed from outside - it must start from within • ‘Creating resilience is up to you. No one is going to do it for you. No experts can say exactly how it should be done in your community. You are the experts on what you think will work in the places and with the people you know best. It will take courage to ask big, difficult questions. It will take creativity to use our assets in new ways. It will take compassion and time to build communication, trust, and solidarity between all members of our communities, some of whom may come from very different backgrounds and traditions. Hopefully, it also will be inspiring and often fun’ (Bay Localize) • Too centralised and too managerial • Cluttered Governance • Restriction of local innovation • State can undermine social capital But… • No community can, or should try, to ‘go it alone’: there is a key enabling role for public bodies or other agencies • Facilitating not commanding: encouraged to take risks/not afraid to fail • Scaling-up not down
  • The Big Green Challenge (NESTA) • One of the Winners (£300,000) was Green Valleys, a community interest company based in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. The Green Valleys hope to reduce carbon emissions, mitigate the risks of flooding and provide local residents with cheap, renewable energy. Through hydro, wind and thermal power (some of which is community-owned), Green Valleys is hoping to make the 520sq mile area ‘energy independent’. Excess energy will be sold back to the National Grid, generating a steady income stream for the company. - Mass Localism: a way to help small communities solve big problems - Instead of assuming that the best- Instead of assuming that the best solutions need to be determined,solutions need to be determined, prescribed, driven or ‘authorised’ fromprescribed, driven or ‘authorised’ from the centre, policymakers should createthe centre, policymakers should create more opportunities for communitiesmore opportunities for communities to develop and deliver their ownto develop and deliver their own solutions and to learn from eachsolutions and to learn from each other’other’ - £1 million challenge prize designed to stimulate and support community-led responses to climate change. - Prizes and public challenges can be an effective means of distributing funds and incentivising innovation
  • Summary • To be resilient a number of factors need to come together: ‘the right systems and structures, the right technologies and information, the right kind of community empowerment, and the right values and habits of mind’. (Zolli and Healey, 2012)
  • Last Word (s) • ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’. (Margaret Mead)