Resilience, Community Action and Societal Transformation
People, Place, Practice, Power, Politics and Possibility in Transition
I have long been a fan of the Resilience Alliance, and when invited by the organisers of the Resilience 2014 Conference in Montpellier, France to convene a workshop session, it felt like a great opportunity to build bridges between their work and grassroots action for community resilience taking place in the Transition movement. Several of us connected with the Transition Research Network and the then-incipient ECOLISE Network of Transition, Permaculture, Ecovillages and other community-led initiatives joined forces and came up with a very nice session that combined three very different papers with an open space discussion on community resilience in practice.
My expenses had been paid by Lisbon University in connection with the BASE Research Project, on the understanding that I would produce some sort of short report. However, things soon took on a life of their own. We ran into other people who had presented on related topics elsewhere in the conference, sweet-talked a few keynote speakers who had spoken well of what we were doing into sharing their thoughts, added a few bits and pieces we had lying around waiting for a home, and all of a sudden an entire book had dreamed itself into being.
And what a book it was – for an apparent product of random assembly, it is a remarkably coherent collection, whose separate chapters complement and speak to each other well. As a whole it is, in my own entirely impartial view, among the most important contributions to resilience theory of the decade, and worthy successor to the Resilience Alliance’s own books Linking Social and Ecological Systems, Panarchy, and Navigating Social and Ecological Systems, and the STEP’s centre’s Dynamic Sustainabilities book.
Dedicated commoners that we are, we’ve put all the chapters out free of charge on the Transition Research Network website, along with a series of interviews with contributors. However, the book itself is a thing of great beauty lavishly illustrated with photographs by co-editor Gesa Maschkowski, and well worth picking up from the publishers Permanent Publications or their partners elsewhere in the world.
After the conference, by the way, I got straight on the train to Brussels to take part in the legal ceremony that marked the formal establishment of ECOLISE, opening up a whole further chapter. The book became the second release in ECOLISE’s own Communities for Future Book Series (following Permaculture and Climate Change Adaptation), co -released with Transition Network, the Schumacher Institute and Lisbon University Science Faculty as partners.