Posts Tagged ‘resilience’

Climate resilience can enhance social cohesion, reduce inequity

At a conference this summer, Building Climate Resilience for Equitable Communities, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and the Budget, announced a slew of new White House climate resilience initiatives that are targeted to helping communities at risk and reduce the inequity that has become a major source of social instability.  He asked:

“Why are some children less likely to go to college, find good-paying jobs, and stay out of the criminal justice system? Why do those who have the least stand to lose the most when the storm comes through?”

Donovan went on to outline several programs that address these questions, through the lens of federal efforts to increase resilience in the face of climate challenges, including

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Mindfulness tied to higher personal resilience

A new research paper has added resilience to the qualities that are enhanced in those who practice mindfulness—that is, maintaining a non-judgemental awareness of the present moment.  The concept has roots in Buddhism and meditation, though simpler forms of “mindfulness training,” stripped of most of Buddhism’s conceptual framework, have spread widely in recent years, aiming to harness the benefits of in-the-moment awareness in the workplace and in daily life.

In the study, recently summarized in Pacific Standard, participants’ personal resilience was measured via ten self-descriptive statements, including “able to adapt to change,” “can stay focused under pressure,” and are “not easily discouraged by failure.” The researchers concluded:

Mindful people can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down.

Consider this yet another nudge in the direction we encouraged in the “Qualities of the Resilient Investor” section of our book: maintaining some sort of centering practice is, for many, a key foundation for cultivating personal resilience. From Chapter 6, Be Ready for Anything:

Over the course of a life, some combination of counseling, spiritual practice, participation in men’s or women’s groups, membership in a church community, professional development programs that include an emotional/reflective element, and extended immersions in the natural world with like-minded friends will serve to deepen your self-awareness and help clarify all the choices that present themselves to you.

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Resiliency networks for smaller cities

In recent weeks, we’ve featured the work of several networks of cities and of mayors that are working together to tackle climate challenges locally.  But if you live in a smaller city (or aren’t a mayor), you may be interested in a couple of other organizations we just came across. Resilient Communities for America includes over 200 city and county councilmembers (and mayors) and offers free resources to help your community track emissions, plan for solar and resiliency, and more.  The larger ICLEI (launched in 1991 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives; now rebranded as Local Governments for Sustainability) has hundreds of members in 42 states, and over a thousand from around the world; dues for cities under 50,000 are just $600/year. Either or both of these networks could really help you jump-start local initiatives or take the next steps.

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New “LEED for resilience” certification proposed

With resiliency continuing to gain momentum as a framework for personal, community, and national planning, it’s not surprising to hear that a new building standard has been proposed that will encourage architects to design projects in ways that can “better withstand shocks such as super storms, sea-level rise, drought, heat waves or even longer-simmering social unrest.”

“Resiliency is the next step in the entire green ecological design framework,” says Doug Pierce, who developed the RELi Green + Resilient Property Underwriting Standard, a collaboration between Capital Markets Partnership and the design firm Perkins and Wills.  GreenBiz.com offers a good summary of the program,

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Resilience AmeriCorps focuses on vulnerable communities

This summer, the Obama administration launched a new AmeriCorps program that dovetails perfectly with the local resiliency efforts that we’ve highlighted as part of the Close to Home resilient investing strategy.  Resilience AmeriCorps was formed “to assist vulnerable communities that lack the capacity to address climate-resilience planning and implementation.  The AmeriCorps VISTA members will increase civic engagement and community resilience in low-income areas, and help those communities develop plans for becoming more resilient to any number of shocks and stresses, including better preparations for extreme weather events.”  Or, as funding partner The Rockefeller Foundation put it: to “support the development of resilience strategies to help communities better manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.”  Now that’s a punchy definition of resilience!

The focus on vulnerable lower income communities is especially encouraging, since many current grassroots efforts tend to involve generally better-off and already socially-engaged activists.  A White House overview of Resilience AmeriCorps stressed the importance of its social-justice priorities:

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New Era Economy interview with Michael

Michael was recently interviewed on KSFR, the top-notch community radio station in our old home town of Santa Fe.  The half-hour conversation, which aired on their New Era Economy show, is a great overview of the themes behind resilient investing.  You can listen below, or here on Soundcloud. A teaser:

What we’re trying to do here is to help people understand that there is a risk to whatever perspective you have, and because any perspective can be wrong, we should really be hedging our own bets on our own perspective.  That’s what real resilience is—is being well-prepared for any possible future scenario, not just the one you think is going to happen, because the truth is, nobody knows….I think that’s what makes this not a radical notion; this makes this a very conservative approach to living your life.

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Small homesteads: a rich life now, ready for “what if”

Homesteads designed to increase self-suffiency are not just a throwback to the 60’s or a prepper fortification against total breakdown.  In today’s uncertain world, they are investments in personal and local resiliency that offer substantial returns in any future scenario.  And it doesn’t take much land to shift your family’s balance from total dependence on unsustainable (and potentially fragile) global food and energy systems, toward a much more rewarding and reliable balance of local, regional, and global supplies.  After a few years, you may even find yourself feeling a lot less nervous about the “what if” consequences of a major economic or environmental crisis that could disrupt your access to distant goods.

But where to start?  And why would you want to?  We recently came across a great introduction to these questions, in a profile of Melliodora, a 2-acre homestead in a rural village setting; click through for more details.

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Post-hurricanes, northeast turns toward resilient power

The one-two punches of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy have spurred cities throughout the northeastern United States to invest in more reliable backup power systems.  These “Resilient Power” initiatives reduce reliance on generators (which too often fail when fired up) in favor of more resilient solar, fuels cells, and power storage systems that can provide benefits between outages as well.  A new Resilient Power Guide from the Clean Energy Group highlights early state-wide projects from Maryland to Vermont, which have spurred 40 municipal programs.  The first target is emergency response facilities: “More than 90 critical facilities in the Northeast – including emergency shelters, wastewater treatment plants, firehouses and other first responder facilities – will have resilient electrical systems in place to improve emergency response in the next year, and to protect neighborhoods in the next power outage.”  Click through to learn more about these trailblazing programs, then dig in a bit in your area to see how you might engage in some Zone 4 resilient investing to advance these efforts in your community.

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Resilient Cities program expanding worldwide

The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program is providing funding to cities from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Amman, Jordan.  A City Resiliency Framework, including twelve “drivers” in four major areas (see illustration) helps each city focus on its particular chronic resiliency challenges, and to set the stage for a nimble response if an acute shock occurs.  As examples: El Paso/Juarez is targeting water supplies as the southwestern drought deepens, while a 2013 mapping project in Kathmandu was reactivated after the recent earthquake to help guide recovery efforts.  From a resilient investing perspective, this effort is centered in Zone 4 (involving a wide range of community organizations as well as municipal agencies and government, which is funded to hire a CRO, or Chief Resilience Officer) and Zone 1 (nonprofit and volunteer efforts) and Zone 6 (habitat, landscape).  So far, two-thirds of the cities have been chosen, with the rest set to be announced later this year.

In looking over their blog, we were especially taken by the post on the mapping project, which jumped from the Kathmandu story to an Indonesian project that worked with an artists collective to map the city of Semarang:

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Investing in resilience: The Green American interview

The summer issue of Green American, the quarterly member’s magazine of the venerable consumer and business organization, Green America, features perhaps the best interview yet about resilient investing.  Michael Kramer was the voice of the team this time, and if you’re looking for a solid introduction to the thinking behind our approach, there’s no better place to start.

You can read the interview on the Green American site (it’s part of a very good special section on socially responsible investing), or click through to read it here.

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“2001 miles from Wall Street”: NPR interview with Hal

For two minutes on Wednesday, the dulcet tones of Hal’s voice went out over the NPR airwaves. He was featured on the Marketplace Morning Report, being interviewed from his home, which host David Brancaccio determined is “2001 miles from Wall Street.” The other stories, including floods in Texas and Greek economic ills, set the stage perfectly for his concise intro to The Resilient Investor, which offers a technicolor array of investment options in place of Wall Street’s shades of grey.
Listen here; the interview begins after the musical interlude, at about 3:45

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Greening in the red zone: resilience in broken places

Looking for some hopeful, practical stories of personal and community resilience?  Check out Greening in the Red Zone, which compiles inspiring stories of regenerative commitment from parts of the world where things have fallen apart, ranging from Syrian war zones to tornado-wracked towns in the midwest.  

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