When I think about Resilience and resilient communities, I keep thinking back to my time in Lyttelton, New Zealand. I suppose that is my situated context, and it’s what I’ll be linking back to in my connective thoughts. If we’re doing concentration-style situated contexts, I would say this project is situated in geophysical disaster prone areas since Lyttelton was affected by a devastating earthquake. Hopefully Resilience can be applied not only to geophysical disasters, but all disasters, physical and societal.
Social and ecological vulnerability to disasters and outcomes of any particular extreme event are influenced by buildup or erosion of resilience both before and after disasters occur. Resilient social-ecological systems incorporate diverse mechanisms for living with, and learning from, change and unexpected shocks. Disaster management requires multilevel governance systems that can enhance the capacity to cope with uncertainty and surprise by mobilizing diverse sources of resilience. (Adger et. al 2005)
Disaster management is an area in which social resilience can be situated because the ways that people respond to these disasters can be informed by resilience frameworks. Increasing social capital, cross-scalar communication, and providing platforms for human agency are among some of the most important aspects of the resilience framework.
The resilience (or conversely, the vulnerability) of coastal societies is more tightly linked to larger-scale processes today than in the past. For example, economic linkages and the globalization of trade in commodities and ecological goods and services tie regions much more closely together than before. (Adger et. al 2005)
Natural disasters are a part of human history, but the way we respond to them has evolved over time (Adger et. al 2015). This is one of the main assets of resilience in contrast with sustainability. Resilience acknowledges the social and ecological change that has occurred throughout the years, and embraces it instead of trying to equalize it.
Resilience thinking has the potential to be more helpful than sustainability … because it requires a more transparent examination of social justice and other human development concerns through an assessment of not only which elements of an SES we value but also the extent to which those values are reflected in our policies and approaches. (Benson and Craig 2014)
Although ecological resilience has certain ecosystem functions and qualities needed to sustain itself, socioecological systems are still figuring out what to value within a society. This aspect of resilience is rooted deeply in ethics and values, and it relates to utopias and dystopias.
Many of the ideas I’ve come across while learning about Resilience have matched up with David Pepper’s ideals for transgressive utopias. He stresses the need for networks, the importance of social capital, the need for novel ideas and innovation, and viewing communities as nodes in a network of connected communities, somewhat related to Holling’s panarchies. One idea stressed in Resilience theory and not as highlighted in Pepper’s transgressive utopias is a dystopian call for distress to mix things up. In one of Holling’s papers, he discussed the need for some kind of disturbance to create diversity within ecosystems, which I think is a very important part of Resilience as well. Resilience can be seen as both utopian and dystopian because of this. It contains utopian ideals of building networks and increasing social capital, but it is dystopian in that it acknowledges that there will be an eventual demise of the current state, and this demise might actually be a good thing in the long run. This almost creates a kind of seeking Utopia.
such research would seek to locate historical tipping points that might provide insight into future regime change and help to identify critical ecological thresholds. (Benson and Craig 2014)
We have the knowledge of the tipping points of past societies and ecosystems, which we can examine and use to our advantage. One of the biggest strengths we have as humans is the ability to adapt. Instead of blindly creating solutions, we can learn from past patterns and suggestions of others.
Adaptations included changes in the rules and governance of hurricane risk, change in organizations, establishment of early warning systems, and promotion of self-mobilization in civil society and private corporations. Social learning, the diversity of adaptations, and the promotion of strong local social cohesion and mechanisms for collective action have all enhanced resilience and continue to guide planning for future climate change. (Adger et. al 2005)
Multilevel social networks are crucial for developing social capital and for supporting the legal, political, and financial frameworks that enhance sources of social and ecological resilience. (Adger et. al 2005)
Political change is a big part of resilience. This kind of change would need to happen on many different levels, just like Holling’s panarchy. One of the main goals for political action would be creating platforms and opportunities for cross-communication between these levels. The idea of Resilience is almost instrumental in itsself — it’s a framework for us as a society to use moving forward.