Economic Resilience

Beyond Emergency Care

Once our “trauma center” is up and running, we can turn to Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles:

“Observe and interact.” We must learn how to observe, and what to observe. We must retrain our powers of observation for the new economy — our abilities to observe the right stuff so that the new structure won’t simply copy the old.

Some of the ideas brought out in this booklet may seem dramatically different and radical when posed as economic premises – ideas like the ongoing tie or emotional obligation of Eisenstein’s gift culture; the place centered consciousness of Norberg-Hodge or the Slow Food / Slow Money movements; The Great Redistribution and a socially-just economy. Our knee-jerk reaction that these are “out-there radical” underlines how far our current consciousness is from where we need to be. It’s going to take some time to figure out exactly what to design into our new local operating systems.

“Use slow and small solutions.” In true American style, we love BIG solutions. It’s very tempting to look to grand, sweeping fixes. It is tempting to expect government to solve it. But this case isn’t very likely to unfold that way. Slow and small solutions begin with setting up your community’s emergency center (Practical Tools #1 through #8), and starting to observe the right stuff.

“Design from patterns to details” is indeed another of Holmgren’s principles. Yet I suggest that right now we are so deeply immersed in the conventional economic paradigm that we lack the eyes to properly see the pattern. We aren’t yet ready to design.

In the dating world, “on the rebound” is a well-recognized phenomenon. When an individual is fresh out of a failed relationship, the likelihood of successfully finding the next long-term relationship isn’t high. There needs to be a cooling-off period – a time of mourning, a time of reflection, a time of learning from past experiences. Right now with respect to the economy, we are still in the failed relationship. We haven’t moved out or done the “rebound” phase. We haven’t internalized the lessons we need for a really successful subsequent design.

When we do start to think about design, the pattern won’t begin with utopian wishful thinking. It will begin with what we have right now. It will begin with one small planet, one global ecosystem, and 7 billion people, most of whom are located in cities. The pattern begins with peak everything and global climate change as a given. The pattern will embrace all of the petals of Holmgren’s Permaculture Flower.

The pattern that is emerging encompasses everything in human experience — money and power and government and businesses and housing and food and medicine and social interactions and the cultural messages all of us learned as youth. All of it is in the midst of massive, transformative change.

“The Great Turning” is an appropriate description for what is going on. In the midst of all that Turning, now is the moment for building local resilience, growing our ability to flex and adapt to whatever comes along.

Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy describes three types of action required to achieve The Great Turning:
• Holding action to slow down the destruction of life
• Creating new structures
• A shift in consciousness

Traditional environmentalism is in many cases a manifestation of Macy’s first dimension: Stopping Action, preventing further destruction, actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings.

The Transition approach as outlined by Rob Hopkins and now being experimented with and customized around the world, is primarily a movement growing up within Macy’s second dimension: Creating New Structures, the creation of the better world of the future.

The Transition movement also touches upon Macy’s third dimension, a Shift in Consciousness, a shift in our deeply ingrained values.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.