The Need for Community Resilience

So… what is community resilience?  Community resilience is a community’s ability to withstand and recover from hard times – to tolerate and adapt to significant shocks from the outside.  Even in the case of widespread emergency, all individuals in a resilient community can meet their basic needs – food, water, energy, transportation, housing, and economic and social services.

The key here is that resilience cannot be given or granted to a community by any outside power.  After all, a resilient community is one that mobilizes its local resources sustainably and equitably – and who knows the unique resources, assets, and strengths of a community better than its residents?  Resilience must arise within the community, from the bottom-up: the product of the collaborative energies of the residents of a community.  Transition recognizes the truth of this in a cheerful mantra:

  1. If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late.
  2. If we act as individuals, it’ll be too little,
  3. But if we act as communities, it might be just enough, just in time.

So establishing resilience rests in the hands of a community’s residents.  But how do we measure resilience?  The answer will vary from community to community, but some indicators of resilience in Charlottesville might include the following:

  • Percentage of food grown and consumed locally
  • Percentage of individuals and families earning a living wage
  • Availability of affordable housing
  • Average commuting distances for workers in town
  • Percentage of energy produced locally
  • Quantity of renewable building materials
  • Proportion of essential goods being manufactured within the community or within a given distance
  • Ratio of car parking space to productive land use

How can we build more resilience into our community?  People all over the world are asking this very question and stepping up to the plate.  To read more, check out The Global Transition Movement.