Building Community Resilience
The interconnected environmental, energy, economic, and equity crises of the 21st century are posing complex and often-unpredictable challenges to communities around the world. But conventional forms of urban planning, design, and governance—often centralized, hierarchical, and inflexible—are ill-suited to these new realities. It’s time to go beyond piecemeal urban sustainability efforts and meaningfully equip our communities for the the challenges. It’s time to build our communities’ resilience.
For more than a decade, Post Carbon Institute has developed ideas and projects to help modern industrial society transition towards a new normal of long-term sustainability within our planet’s biophysical limits. This page summarizes our major work focused on building community resilience in the face of our global sustainability crises.
|Think Resilience online course
Hosted by Richard Heinberg
We live in a time of tremendous political, environmental, and economic upheaval. What can we do? Think Resilience is an online course to help you start doing something about climate change and our other sustainability challenges—starting in your own community. It consists of twenty-two short videos (about four hours in total) that explore the interrelated crises of the twenty-first century, and what we as citizens, students, and community leaders can do to respond to them. FREE ONLINE.
|Six Foundations for Building Community Resilience
By Daniel Lerch • November 2015
Efforts to build community resilience often focus on growing the capacity to “bounce back” from disruptions, like those caused by climate change. But climate change is not the only crisis we face, nor is preparing for disruption the only way to build resilience. Truly robust community resilience should do more. It should engage and benefit all community members, and consider all the challenges the community faces—from rising sea levels to a lack of living wage jobs. And it should be grounded in resilience science, which tells us how complex systems—like human communities—can adapt and persist through changing circumstances. Six Foundations for Building Community Resilience describes how communities can approach the full scope of the 21st century’s challenges equitably and sustainably.
|Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement
By Marissa Mommaerts, Ken White, and Ben Roberts • September 2014
A movement is emerging to replace the default economy of excess, control, and exploitation with a new economy based on respecting biophysical constraints, preferring decentralization, and supporting mutuality. This movement is a sign of the growing recognition that what often are seen as separate movements—environment, social justice, labor, democracy, indigenous rights—are all deeply interconnected, particularly in the way that the current economic system is a root cause of much that they seek to change…
|Building Thriving, Resilient Communities
Compiled by Marissa Mommaerts; edited by Leslie Meehan & Ken White. Sponsored by Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory. • February 2014
Building Thriving, Resilient Communities explores many exciting resilient systems being created in communities across the nation (and planet) that demonstrate how we can live more sustainably, and in community, while respecting Nature’s limits. More than just inspiring stories, this collection contains tools—practical, tested, hands-on ways you can begin making your community more resilient…
VIEW THE GUIDE
|Resilient Against What?
By Jim Thayer, Morgan Rider, and Daniel Lerch • October 16, 2013
This survey of leading U.S. municipalities reveals an understanding of “resilience” that goes beyond the usual concerns about disaster preparedness and climate change. “[W]e found that many of these communities were doing far more than even the most ardent urban sustainability watchers seem to realize. Among other things, the survey led us to some conclusions that are either contrary to conventional wisdom or simply not yet on the radar of most policymakers and sustainability observers…”
|The Community Resilience Reader
Edited by Daniel Lerch • Published 2017 by Island Press
National and global efforts have failed to stop climate change, transition from fossil fuels, and reduce inequality. We must now confront these and other increasingly complex problems by building resilience at the community level. The Community Resilience Reader combines a fresh look at the challenges humanity faces in the 21st century, the essential tools of resilience science, and the wisdom of activists, scholars, and analysts working with community issues on the ground.
FREE ONLINE PREVIEW
|Rebuilding the Foodshed
By Philip Ackerman-Leist • Foreword by Deborah Madison • Published 2013 by Chelsea Green
How can individuals and local organizations and institutions build the food security of their communities?
BUY NOW | WATCH THE WEBINAR with author Philip Ackerman-Leist
|Power From the People
By Greg Pahl • Foreword by Van Jones • Published 2012 by Chelsea Green
How can we move away from centralized, highly polluting, wasteful and non-renewable sources of energy and empower local communities with their own energy sources?
BUY NOW | WATCH THE WEBINAR with Lyle Estile, Piedmont Biofuels,
and Lynn Benander, Co-op Power
|Local Dollars, Local Sense
By Michael Shuman • Foreword by Peter Buffett • Published 2012 by Chelsea Green
How can we shift trillions of dollars of regular Americans’ investments away from the Wall Street casino and into local economies?
BUY NOW | WATCH THE WEBINAR with Jenny Kassan, Cutting Edge Capital,
and Dan Rosenberg, Real Pickles
Chapters from The Post Carbon Reader
|EDUCATION: Community Colleges: A Vital Resource in the Post-Carbon Era
By Nancy Lee Wood • May 4, 2011
The key question is, “Where in our current educational system is it possible to develop and institutionalize the kinds of education needed to prepare people for work in the post-carbon economy-and to do so relatively quickly?” Read more
|CITIES, TOWNS, AND SUBURBS: Local Government in a Time of Peak Oil and Climate Change
By John Kaufmann • April 4, 2011
If government is not responding as we would like it to, we cannot tear it down or abandon it. We must make it work. Government, after all, is us. Read more
|CITIES, TOWNS, AND SUBURBS: Toward Zero-Carbon Buildings
By Hillary Brown • November 22, 2010
In many ways, the green building movement represents a broad urge among builders, designers, and citizens alike to proactively respond to climate change and other environmental issues without waiting for governmental action. Read more
|ECONOMY: The Competitiveness of Local Living Economies
By Michael Shuman • November 3, 2010
The only thing standing in the way of localization is policy-makers committed to propping up noncompetitive global corporations. Read more
|BUILDING RESILIENCE: What Can Communities Do?
By Rob Hopkins • September 13, 2010
Community matters when we are looking for responses to peak oil and climate change because of the power that emerges from working together and creating meaningful change through shared action. Read more
|FOOD: Growing Community Food Systems
By Erika Allen • September 1, 2010
The idea of a community food system is much larger than just urban farming. It deals with everything, all the components that are needed to establish, maintain, and perpetually sustain a civilization. Read more
|CITIES: Smart Decline
By Deborah and Frank Popper • July 19, 2010
In 2002, after decades of trying to restart economic development like most other Rust Belt cities, Youngstown made a radical change in approach. The city began devising a transformative plan to encourage some neighborhoods to keep emptying and their vegetation to return. The plan, still early in its implementation as we write, would raze…Read more
|CITIES: The Death of Sprawl
By Warren Karlenzig • June 23, 2010
In April 2009—just when people thought things couldn’t get worse in San Bernardino County, California—bulldozers demolished four perfectly good new houses and a dozen others still under construction in Victorville, 100 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles… Read more
Conversations with Practitioners & Thought Leaders (2015)
What is community resilience? How can you know if your community is resilient? Is there a relationship between resilience and justice? What resources have proven particularly useful in actually building resilience? These are just a few of the questions we’re bringing to conversations with leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds, organizations, and communities. Read more