What is Resilience?

Resilience is a powerful remedy for our uncertain times. It helps us learn to live with the fundamental complexity of modern life.

When the inevitable disruptions do hit the system, resilient investors will have the best possible shock absorbers to minimize being rattled and will be positioned to bounce back even better than before. Our favorite one-liner comes from Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who wrote, “When surprises are the new normal, resilience is the new skill.”

The goal of resilient investing is to provide a strong-yet-flexible foundation for short, medium, and long-term decision-making; in the face of an uncertain future, we want to make things better, for ourselves and for the world. We are using resiliency in its most flexible and optimistic form, still loyal to the goals of sustainability (providing for the needs of the present without harming the future) and with eyes staying sharp for emerging prospects. Here is our definition:

Resilience helps us to thrive by:

  • anticipating and preparing for disturbance,
  • improving the capacity to withstand shocks,
  • rebuilding as necessary, and
  • adapting and evolving when possible. 

The rest of this site fleshes out our approach to applying resiliency principles to investing and life planning; here are our favorite resources for getting up to speed on the ideas behind “resilience” and the ways that the concept is being implemented in communities around the world:

The Stockholm Resilience Center

This key organization has produced some of the best educational materials for introducing the concept of resilience—we especially like the videos and two introductory PDFs you’ll find on this page. Explore their rich site, which ranges both wide and deep, from research papers to arts projects.


A global network of local/regional groups working to build resiliency, Transition began from the framework of preparing for a post-peak-oil world; the evolution of the movement has led to a wide range of local initiatives that foster local economies, social justice, increased renewable energy, and other projects that, like much in the Close to Home strategy, offer powerful contributions to any possible future scenario.

Transition United States compiles news and resources; also includes a map of the over 150 active Transition Town initiatives in the US.
Transition Network is the global Transition resource center.

Other great resources

Resilient Communities is a project from the UK that shares some roots with the Transition Network. Its resources aim to help resilient communities produce the food, energy, water, things, and incomes they need locally.

PostCarbon Institute’s Resilience.org
An information clearinghouse and a network of action-oriented groups; features a lively exchange of ideas.

Resilience Alliance
A research organization comprised of scientists and practitioners from many disciplines who collaborate to explore the dynamics of social-ecological systems. Here you’ll find more of the academic soil from which creative community-building solutions are growing.

YES Magazine special issue on community resilience
Includes a range of articles, most relatively brief, highlighting specific resiliency-building initiatives.