Catalyzing a Resilient Communities Network

This Catalyzing a Resilient Communities Network Pre-Bioneers Conference Event, October 18th, San Rafael, CA, was a landmark gathering featured leading models, strategies and tools for building resilience at the community, local and regional levels, highlighting the opportunity for a Resilient Communities Network nationally and globally.

The event, co-Sponsored by the Thriving Resilient Communities Co-laboratory (of which Transition US is a team member) and the Threshold Foundation, was attended by over 200 community leaders from various parts of the U.S. and beyond.

The event was framed in this way:

The science says we have physically entered a period of great change, a synchronized, related crash of the economy and ecosystem. This crisis presents what may be a ‘once in a civilization’ opportunity for a step change in human evolution, but one driven consciously rather than biologically. The Great Disruption will ultimately take human society to a higher evolutionary state. We are the people we’ve been waiting for.

– Paul Gilding, The Great Disruption

In the face of the Great Disruption, the key is building resilience, both ecological and social, while making the successful transformation to a sustainable civilization. Key principles of resilience thinking include systems thinking, fostering the system’s capacity to adapt to dramatic change, and diversity of stakeholders and responses. It requires greater decentralization, localization and redundancies, while relinquishing command-and-control approaches. Other keys are to build community and social capital, and empower local communities to solve their own problems. Above all – learn, experiment and innovate.

From this framing the morning was illuminated by a series of thought leaders:  Steve Waddell, The Power of Global Action Networks, Ruth Rominger, Operationalizing Action Network, David Orr (Oberlin Project), Mary Gonzalez (Gamaliel Foundation), Rick Reed (Garfield Foundation/RE-AMPP), Andy Lipkis (TreePeople), Peter Warshall (Dreaming New Mexico), Jim Sheehan (Envision Spokane) and  Mateo Nube (Movement Generation).  

Central to the day was an initial systems mapping “sketch” of Resilient Communities drawn from the “mental models” of these diverse thought leaders (and others), designed and synthesized by Scott Spann of Innate Strategies.

Co-laboratory discussion circles followed and invited participants into small group dialogue in the following domains: Resilience Building Tools, Social Resilience, Governance, Ecological Resilience, Financial Resilience and Networks. Participants located themselves in relevant action-domain nodes on the map and connected with others in that domain. A structured networking lunch offered further opportunity for focused connection.

This full day was concluded by: Gar Alperovitz, The Green Economy and Democratization of Community Wealth and Mark “Puck” Mykleby, New National Security Sustainability Grand Strategy.  Kenny Ausubel and Scott Spann summarized and discussed next steps. 

A Resilient Communities Network holds great promise to respond effectively to the complex paradoxes and dilemmas of our times.  Stay tuned for a follow-up strategies and actions, further mapping of the field of resilience and the launch of a Resilient Communities Network.


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