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2    I N T RO D U CT I O N:                                          A New Operating                                      ...
INTRODUCTION:A New Operating SystemWe live in a time of flux. The operating systems that         societies are more vulner...
A CULTURE OF RESILIENCEToday’s failures are not isolated, but                       Our guiding questions:                ...
Resilience in PracticeHuman resilience is the capacity to shape and adapt               While some of these principles and...
The Language of ResilienceThe Latin word resilire means to leap back or to            Resilience and vulnerabilityrebound ...
A Regional ApproachWatersheds, food systems, electric grids, and forest         To describe some of the ways in which regi...
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Resilience report spreads2

  2. 2. 2 I N T RO D U CT I O N: A New Operating System 4 A C U LT U R E O F RESILIENCE 12 REGIONAL V U L N E RA B I L I T I E S 28 S TO R I E S O F I N N OVAT I O N Human resilience is the capacityto effectively influence and adapt 38 S TA RT HERE to change. 40 E P I LO G U E: Learn by Going 42 Acknowledgments 43 Glossary 44 Notes 46 Bibliography
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION:A New Operating SystemWe live in a time of flux. The operating systems that societies are more vulnerable to shocks from naturalguided human development in the 20th century are disasters, resource scarcities, climate change, financialfailing. disruptions, disease, infrastructure failures, and social unrest. To counter these vulnerabilities, we look toToo many people still struggle for access to food or scales that better approximate the contours of theeducation. Few societies have been able to organize natural and cultural landscapes in which people live,for broadly shared benefits. Moreover, in our growing work, and organize — regional scales, in which societiesdemand for nature’s services, we weaken our ability to can more reliably steward nature’s services and provideprovide for human needs in years to come. for human wellbeing. Greater diversity and viability of local and regional economies is key to bolsteringIt’s time to examine how our current operating systems resilience.— the institutions of social, political, and economicrelations — leave us vulnerable. Then we can begin to In this publication, we explore a culture of resilience,draw a new map for navigating the territory ahead. examine current vulnerabilities in our home region along the West Coast of North America, and presentWhile individual maps may differ, a set of core principles stories of how individuals and organizations arefor developing 21st-century institutions is common changing the nature of social, political, and economicto us all. They are the principles of resilience. Stated interactions.simply, human resilience is the capacity to effectivelyinfluence and adapt to change. Through a culture Although our focus is on regional scales, our vision isof resilience, we cultivate the potential for novelty, hardly regionally bounded. National and international Resilience Regionsinstitutional innovation, and social transformation. regimes are stuck in maladaptive traps: entrenched The Resilience Regions map offers a fresh way of looking at the relationships between people ways of thinking, acting, and organizing. We believe that and place — a perspective that draws on theAs our maps should reflect, humans are dependent on the innovation that emerges at local and regional scales complexities of cultural and ecological factors.natural resources and services for food, water, energy, can lead to large-scale transformation. We start with Lines on the map are fixed by necessity, but a dynamic and more realistic view would revealand other basic needs. In the language of resilience, resilience at home in order to develop institutions that smaller, nested, and overlapping scales, from thewe exist within linked social-ecological systems — and better support personal, social, and natural wellbeing local and regional on up to the global.these relationships matter. for everyone.Within social-ecological relationships, the scaleof activities matters as well. Globalization fostersgreater connectivity and efficiencies, at the expense ofredundancy, diversity, and social capital. As a result, our “ Civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.” Paul Hawken University of Portland Commencement Address, 2009vi · I N T RO D U CT I O N I N T RO D U CT I O N · vii
  4. 4. A CULTURE OF RESILIENCEToday’s failures are not isolated, but Our guiding questions: Resilience Principlesinterconnected. We draw upon the scientific è How might public and private individualsliterature on social-ecological resilience and and organizations around the world cultivatebring a practitioner’s perspective in order resilience?to develop an understanding of systemic è What does transformation look like? Plan for changeresponses to systemic challenges: a culture of è In what ways are geographic scales significantresilience. to resilience and transformation?This culture begins at home, by nurturing thecapacities that build resilience and enabletransformation. It is a culture that manifestsat multiple scales, from the personal to the Expand opportunitiescommunity and region — on up to the speciesand planet.We emphasize a regional approach becausehuman needs for natural resources and serviceslargely rely on regional resilience — and also Develop rich relationshipsbecause, in many places, effective regionalinstitutions are missing or underdeveloped. Itis critical that we start a broader conversationabout the role of regions. Design for learning “ The problems that face us are linked. It’s not a set of problems. It’s a system of problems. Now it’s time to Consider multiple scales look for a system of solutions.” Janine Benyus Nobel Laureate Symposium, 2011viii · A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E · ix
  5. 5. Resilience in PracticeHuman resilience is the capacity to shape and adapt While some of these principles and practices may beto change. We share with many others the definition of culturally specific, we have attempted to universalizeresilience as a capacity — and extend the definition to our understandings and to describe resilience as aencompass bundles of personal and social capacities. necessary capacity for communities and societiesPublic and private individuals and organizations can around the world.cultivate these capacities through the application ofresilience in practice. Plan for change Expand opportunities Develop rich relationships Design for learning Consider multiple scales Develop capacities for: Develop capacities for: Develop capacities for: Develop capacities for: Develop capacities for: • Flexibility • Human potential • Social capital • Integration of knowledge and • Systems thinking • Local and regional self-reliance practice • Foresight • Awareness of uncertainties • Leadership, creativity, and entrepreneurship • Rich feedbacks • Social memory and learning • Compassion • Functional redundancy • Diversity • Continuous institutional Start by asking: Start by asking: innovation Start by asking: • When the unexpected happens, Start by asking: • How might we support the • How do our current lifestyles viability of local and regional Start by asking: affect our individual health and will system failures be • Are the capacities to meet basic disastrous or graceful? needs accessible to all? economies? • In light of failures and wellbeing? • What types of information might uncertainties, how might • How do our current lifestyles • If prices rise or supplies are • Are ownership and employment current knowledge be shared, disrupted, how readily available opportunities diverse and be more openly or broadly affect the environment, other available? reevaluated, and recreated? peoples, and future generations? are alternatives? accessible? • How might institutions, • How might we foster personal • How might prices and incentives • Whose voices are critical to the • How might effective local and better support social and natural problems being diagnosed and regional innovations be scaled infrastructures, and lifestyles be and social wellbeing: senses of decisions being made? more flexible and adaptive to autonomy, trust, and purpose? wellbeing? up or replicated elsewhere? change? • How might we abandon ineffective rules and practices, improve others, and actively experiment with new ones?x · A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E · xi
  6. 6. The Language of ResilienceThe Latin word resilire means to leap back or to Resilience and vulnerabilityrebound from a disturbance. We commonly understand A loss of resilience translates into a vulnerability. In By definition, business as usual is the dominantresilience as the endurance and fortitude that carry ecosystem management, for example, a focus on narrow regime, but others are possible. The local food, foodus through challenges. “Think of resilience in terms of objectives can undermine resilience and increase sovereignty, and seed-saving movements have eachthe old Timex commercial,” an expert on earthquakes vulnerability to environmental stresses. Attempts to created alternatives to the industrial food regime. Theexplained in a 2011 Washington Post article: “it can take optimize fish harvest have led to population crashes, clean energy and climate stabilization movementsa licking and keep on ticking.” and efforts to optimize production from forest, present alternatives to the fossil fuel energy regime. agricultural, and grazing lands can yield similar results. Alternatives to business as usual are all around us, butThis commonsense approach to resilience is part of our they have to surmount numerous formidable obstacles.understanding as well. But it is incomplete. Here are The same can happen in supply chains as well. Effortsadditional ways to think about resilience. to optimize food distribution leave many big cities with It is easy for social-ecological systems, settling in to limited food on hand at any time. They are vulnerable ruts in a vast landscape of possibilities, to becomeResilience of what? to supply shocks, as evidenced in the aftermaths of stuck. We develop psychological and social attachmentsCockroaches, kudzu, and jellyfish are known for their Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Tōhoku earthquake to dominant ways of thinking and living. The reigningresilience. They can endure environmental stresses and in 2011. Greater functional diversity and redundancy power structures tend to reinforce the institutionalreturn to repopulate their ecosystems. But humans differ — many types of distribution channels, supplying food rules, practices, and norms that shape and constrainin important respects from other life on earth. With from many types of sources — would increase food our activities. Existing infrastructures and technologiesadvanced capacities for foresight and self-reflection, system resilience. further reinforce these patterns. Poverty, disease, andwe not only respond to change, we intentionally seek conflict limit possibilities in afflicted influence it. And so the resilience of individuals and Resilience and transformationsocieties relies not only on the capacity for endurance, As social and environmental threats to human These are just some of the examples of rigidities thatbut also on capacities for intentional adaptation and wellbeing mount, it is becoming more evident that can inhibit social change. Resilience in the 21st centurytransformation. business as usual cannot continue. But what is business requires a fresh approach — new ways of thinking, as usual — and why is it so difficult to change? acting, and organizing in the world. How will theseResilience to what? innovations be recognized, supported, and financed?A 2011 World Economic Forum survey of global power In the language of resilience, business as usual And how might traditional knowledge — memories ofbrokers ranked energy price volatility and climate represents a type of regime — a mutually reinforcing set older worldviews, institutions, and experiences — informchange among the top global risks. Resilience to of factors that create regularities in social-ecological our understanding of what might work better today?these types of environmental stresses is critical for interactions. These factors include value systemshuman wellbeing in the 21st century, and social and (worldviews, ideologies), institutions (social, political, Decades ago, Will Rogers set out the cardinal precept ofenvironmental stresses are tightly linked. In this economic), and material artifacts (infrastructures, social transformation: “When you find yourself in a hole,publication, we examine resilience in systems that technologies). stop digging.” To stop digging means to stop supportingprovide for essential needs: systems involving food, — or even to oppose — regimes that underminewater, forests, energy, and finance, among others. A more Just as political regimes can become entrenched and wellbeing. And, even more important, to develop viablecomprehensive look would also examine resilience resistant to change, dominant regimes that regulate alternatives.and wellbeing in systems that provide other vital our relationships to people and places — our economiccomponents of human wellbeing, such as education and systems, our energy systems, our food systems —health care. develop a kind of inertia that makes them difficult to transform.xii · A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E · xiii
  7. 7. A Regional ApproachWatersheds, food systems, electric grids, and forest To describe some of the ways in which regional Terrestrial Ecoregions Map Resilience Regions Map Food Traditions Regional Map The World Wildlife Fund, 1987 Ecotrust, 2011 Renewing Americas Food Traditions, 2004biomes — each occupy a specific geography, and economies can bolster resilience, we posit thetheir geographies matter more than our institutions following:and economies give them credit for. We live in • Diversity within and among regions reducesneighborhoods and regions, but we interact through vulnerability to stresses and shocks from climatevarious jurisdictions and supply chains. change, disease, shortages, transmission or transport failures, and so on.To address these mismatches, we adopt a regionalapproach. At the same time we recognize that regional • A greater diversity of production systems withinboundaries are themselves hard to pin down. A region and among regions offers greater opportunitiesacquires a discrete character and form only with respect for ownership, community investment, and socialto a given watershed, foodshed, or energyshed. To capital formation.further complicate matters, the watershed boundary • Regional trade networks offer opportunities foraboveground may not correspond to that of the aquifer more immediate and transparent feedback aboutbelow. These “problemsheds,” as geographer Tony Allan the true costs of production and consumption.calls them, demand an “ad hoc regionalism.” Precise • Regional trade networks offer opportunities forand fixed boundaries are less important than adaptive shared responsibility, stewardship, and community.collaboration among the people and organizationsrelevant to the geographic context. • Especially when national and international institutions prove rigid and inflexible, theWhen disaster strikes, we are vulnerable where we live. emergence of novelty and innovation at local and Based on expert opinion Based on spatial analysis Based on expert opinion of ecological factors of both ecological and cultural factors of cultural traditionsGeography, financial resources, political access, and regional scales can be critical to leadership onsocial capital are all factors that can turn environmental global problems such as climate change.stresses into vulnerabilities. Residents of the Ganges,Pearl, Mekong, Mississippi, and Rhine Deltas each faceflood and displacement risks, but they are not equallyvulnerable. As environmental stresses multiply, the Comparing Regionsability to organize and act at local and regional scales We compare three maps of North Americanbecomes more critical. regions. Unlike the World Wildlife Fund and Renewing America’s Food Traditions maps, the Resilience Regions map (center) is based onDespite the many benefits of international trade and spatial analysis of both ecological and culturalcommunication, globally interconnected economies factors.also leave societies more vulnerable. Shocks and We use a “cost-distance analysis” to determine regional boundaries. Starting with populationdisturbances can transmit more readily from one region centers, we examine variations between adjoiningof the world to the next. Moreover, the homogenizing map cells. Greater variation entails a greater “cost” of inclusion in a region, until the point whereforces of globalization endanger the local knowledge, cumulative costs between adjoining regionsrelationships, and regionally diverse cultures that once are equivalent, indicating a boundary. Costs areconnected people and place. assigned based on variations in biophysical characteristics such as temperature, elevation, vegetation, and precipitation, as well as variations in language groups.xiv · A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E A C U LT U R E O F R E S I L I E N C E · xv