What is Community Resilience?

For more than thirty years, the world community has tried to resolve the combined challenges of environmental degradation, fossil fuel dependence, economic inequality, and persistent social injustice, largely under the banner of internationally brokered “sustainable development.” It is clear today that the pace of these global trends has not been slowed, let alone stopped or … Read more

Six Foundations for Community Resilience

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 … Read more

The Roots of Our Crises

Homo sapiens is not primarily a rational species. We humans are driven by the universal tendency of living organisms to occupy all accessible habitats and use up all available resources with little heed for the future. Uncontrolled, this instinct alone is a recipe for resource depletion and conflict.

The Environmental Crisis

In the 2016 documentary film Before the Flood, Anote Tong, the former president of Kiribati, declared, “Crisis is not when whole islands are underwater, it is what happens before.” This profound statement is a call to all humanity to heed the signs of debilitating change awaiting Tong’s people and acknowledge that the world is in … Read more

The Equity Crisis

With the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century came a new set of economic systems that served to benefit those with wealth, and extract from those without. Among these was modern capitalism, the system adopted by most of the western world. In the United States in particular, capitalism was combined with a political system that … Read more

The Energy Crisis

The challenges now facing the world’s energy systems are arguably far greater than those of the 1970s energy crisis, and most available evidence suggests that they are about to get more daunting still. The vulnerabilities of our current energy system stem mostly from its reliance primarily on fossil fuels: nonrenewable, depleting resources that, when burned, … Read more

At the Water’s Edge

Serious water problems confront American communities daily. Some are the result of an extreme event like a storm or an industrial accident. Others are slow moving and insidious, like contaminated drinking water or a long-lasting drought. No matter what kind of water crisis looms, it nearly always hits poor and disenfranchised communities hardest.

Food System Lessons

The signs of resource depletion, ecosystem degradation, and anthropogenic climate change are widespread in the 21st century. Food system activities are both a major driver of these changes and are particularly vulnerable to them. The ability of food systems to prepare, mitigate, and adapt will be a major challenge for all societies.

Beyond Waste to Sustainable Consumption

Our current global system of production and consumption of goods and services is not working for the planet, nor for its people and communities. Economic growth demands ever greater levels of consumption of newer, better, and cheaper products. Such consumption, however, undermines environmental quality, compounds inequity, and burdens communities with mounting waste management costs. It … Read more

Pulling It All Together

In the 1990s, Jungian psychiatrist and naturalist Sterling Bunnell observed, “We’re in for some pretty rough bumping over the next century. The important thing is that we don’t totally lose our bearings and become degraded by it.”