Posts Tagged ‘resilience’

Future forecasting remains fraught, fascinating

Our book has some fun mocking the self-assurred pronouncements of televised pundits, and also pushes our readers to seriously confront their own blinkered views of what may be coming in the decades to come.  The fundamental message of The Resilient Investor is that no matter what you see as most likely, these times of rapid change and unpredictability require a broader diversification of our time and attention, so you’ll to be “ready for anything.”  This can sometimes come across as preparing for the worst (we’ll have a post on this misconception soon), but staying poised to take advantage of new opportunities is surely the more exciting part of the equation.

A series of recent articles caught our eye in this regard.  First up, a couple of quickies from Peter Diamandis, one that looked back at eight exponential changes we’ve seen over the past ten years (e.g., in 2005, YouTube first appeared and driverless cars were just twinkles in DARPA’s eye), and another that spells out eight even more disruptive changes that he sees in the coming decade (including 8 billion people being online and a financial revolution driven by the blockchain protocol that fueled Bitcoin).

Going a tad deeper was a Huffington piece featuring few paragraphs each from seven top futurists.  What are they seeing in their crystal balls that might shape the world in ways we’ll want to be ready to respond to? Many focus on health care, where computing, sensing, and AI advancements are combining to create some huge leaps. Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

“By 2025, 3D printers will print clothing at very low cost. There will be many free open source designs, but people will still spend money to download clothing files from the latest hot designer just as people spend money today for eBooks, music and movies despite all of the free material available. 3D printers will print human organs using modified stem cells with the patient’s own DNA providing an inexhaustible supply of organs and no rejection issues. We will be also able to repair damaged organs with reprogrammed stem cells, for example a heart damaged from a heart attack. 3D printers will print inexpensive modules to snap together a house or an office building, lego style.”

“Predictive medicine transforms health care. Early diagnosis of disease with medical devices that sniff our breath, and free DNA sequencing that predicts our future health will be common. Personalized genetic medicine will prevent disease, saving lives and billions in lost productivity. . . . Apps designed by medical professionals will provide efficient real-time feedback, tackle chronic conditions at a much earlier stage, and help to improve the lifestyles and life outcomes of communities in the developed and developing world.”

“The technologies aren’t the most important bit—although they are super cool. It’s what society does with them, and right now it’s institutional change that’s the sticking point. What you really want to look at, in my opinion, is new ways of organizing ourselves.”

 

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Fullerton launches evolutionary “Regenerative Capitalism” initiative

John Fullerton, a former Managing Director at JPMorgan, has embarked on an ambitious new initiative to foster what he calls “regenerative capitalism.”  Among the core principles he identifies are:

  • To view wealth not just as money in the bank, but as the richness we acquire through cultivating human connections and our connection to the natural environment;
  • To ensure capital flows towards every level of our human networks enabling all individuals to reach their potential and to make their fullest contribution to society as a whole, both for themselves and the health of the whole; and
  • To maintain a balance as economic actors between collaborativeness and competition; efficiency and resilience; and small, medium, and large organizational structures.

We’ve long taken heart in Fullerton’s big-picture perspectives on the blind spots in the current economic paradigms, and it’s easy to see the ways that his vision overlaps with the resilient investing framework, especially in our shared expanded definition of wealth and focus on investing (dollars and time) in personal assets and the tangible assets of our regional and global environment.

The Regenerative Capitalism white paper was developed in collaboration with many of our favorite leading-edge thinkers, including Allan Savory, Hunter Lovins, Gar Alperovitz, Paul Hawken, and Hazel Henderson; you can read or download the full white paper, or the 15p Executive Summary.  See also the Capital Institute’s website, which is currently featuring an 8-minute video introduction to the new project.

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How can we measure resilience?

Not long ago I wrote an article welcoming resilience as the new conceptual kid on the block. Sustainability’s lost its luster. It’s always been a little stale, lacking charisma and charm; who dreams of a “sustainable” marriage? I expected resilience to establish itself as THE go-to idea for years to come; heck, we even named our book after it. So imagine my surprise when the September 2014 edition of the journal Resilience, published by the Quivira Coalition, arrived with a cover article entitled “Beyond Resilience.” Wait, what? Is life really moving so fast that we’ve already moved past this crucial concept? Our book isn’t even on Oprah’s list yet; come on, people!

The truth is we also took the concept of resilience beyond its former boundaries. In his 2012 book Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back Andrew Zolli defined resilience simply as a capacity to withstand shocks. For us it’s not enough to just bounce back,—let’s aim higher, let’s try to bounce back better. As we shared last quarter, our definition is bouncier and more forward-looking: 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.

In the Resilience cover article in question, Todd Graham writes about the continuous improvements seen on the Ucross Ranch in Wyoming. It’s an inspiring read, and I recommend it. The core of Graham’s critique is that resilience is difficult to count or measure. He asks “How does a manager quantify a resource’s preparedness for a disturbance when the incidence rate and duration are largely unknown?”

As a planner this is exactly what I hear most often about planning: how can I plan for the future when I don’t know what will happen?

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Resilience in Action – Vanuatu Shows the World how to be Ready for Anything

One of the key traits of a Resilient Investor is putting focused attention into being prepared. This time-honored theme is one that I explored on March 11th on the C-Realm podcast in an episode called “Ready for Anything.”  In turbulent times it’s impossible to know exactly what situations we might have to face, let alone how to be ready for them. But there is great value in considering a wide range of plausible scenarios, and preparing for those that seem more likely. Last week, that lesson was brought home by the resilient people of Vanuatu, as their preparation for extreme weather paid off with priceless returns.

Eyewitness reports of Cyclone Pam were truly scary: it was one of the strongest tropical storms ever to hit land, with gusts over 200 mph. But remarkably, there were only eleven deaths from the storm. This really made me curious! Was it was just luck? Or, had this island nation pulled off a remarkable feat? Turns out it’s the latter, and from the stories trickling out it’s clear that we could learn much about resilience from their example.

The first thing to note is that Vanuatu has been actively preparing for stronger storms. For several years, the World Bank and international aid agencies have been working with the government of Vanuatu on a program aimed at “increasing resilience to climate change and natural hazards.”

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Institute for Local Self-Reliance

For decades, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has championed just that. It focuses on local control and reliance particularly in the areas of broadband, energy, independent businesses, banking, waste (to wealth), and the public good. Each of these areas contains a deep database of articles, relevant rules and resources. Its website has numerous audio, video and written resources. Noteworthy is a searchable database of local, state and federal laws in areas of interest to local self reliance, such as composting, anti-privitization, beverage containers, etc. Visit website.

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What is resilience?

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.

Resilience is a powerful remedy for our uncertain times, allowing us to learn to live with the fundamental complexity of modern life.  These are our favorite resources for getting up to speed on the ideas behind “resilience” and the ways that they are being implemented in communities around the world.

The Stockholm Resilience Center has produced some of the best educational materials for introducing the concept of resilience, including videos and brochures. Explore their rich site, which also includes research papers and arts projects.

Transition is a global network of local/regional groups working to build resiliency. While 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. In the words of founder John Robb, a resilient community produces the food, energy, water, things, and incomes it needs 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.

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Community-oriented responses to breakdown

The following initiatives gather a wealth of practical, organizational, and inspirational materials that foster local economies, local culture, and local resilience. Within the resilient investing framework, the work of these groups are—in many ways—both “close to home” and “evolutionary”; we see strong local communities as a key element in a resilient response to any and all future scenarios.

Transition Towns
Transition is a global network of local/regional groups working to build resiliency. While 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.

Resilient Communities
A project from the UK that shares some roots with the Transition Network. In the words of founder John Robb, a resilient community produces the food, energy, water, things, and incomes it needs locally. Visit website.

Peak Prosperity / Crash Course
Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity website is dedicated to helping readers to understand and prepare for the many huge changes that are underway in the areas that Martenson calls “the 3 E’s” – economy, energy and environment. It’s a member-supported site (charging a monthly membership fee) that also contains a deep and wide offering of resources available to all. While somewhat more oriented toward breakdowns that we may be, the resources he offers are a close complement to the fundamental thinking behind our resilient investing planning. Includes practical resources, blogs, and group discussions.

The Crash Course is a series of free video courses that provide context for the many complex challenges in today’s world that promise to bring great change in years ahead. A book and DVD are also available.

Dark Mountain Project
Dark Mountain is a loose network of writers, artists, philosophers, and others who generally see some degree of environmental and/or economic collapse to be likely in the coming decades, and efforts to reform the system as essentially spitting into the wind. In response, many in the Dark Mountain community consider it more constructive to devote their energy to fostering local and regional cultures, with an emphasis on practical skills, arts, events, and stories for a new time, and developing an historical understanding of the kinds of stories and thinking that led us astray.

Dark Mountain website. Includes in-depth essays from many contributors, and links to Dark Mountain’s series of book-sized journals, each one rich with historical reflection, interviews, fiction, poetry, and visual arts.

Article: NY Times Magazine feature on Paul Kingsnorth and xxxx, two key figures in the Dark Mountain Project.

Article: Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist. A good introduction to the thinking behind Dark Mountain; the first of three annual essays published by Orion by co-founder Paul Kingsnorth.

Audio trialogue between Kingsnorth, David Abram, and Lierre Keith, responding to the themes of Kingsnorth’s essay.

Interview with Paul Kingsnorth, from Orion.

 

SEE ALSO our page on What is Resilience?

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Jamais Cascio: Inspiring futurist

Jamais Cascio is a futurist, and was a key contributor to our way of thinking about scenario planning. His talks and writings are endlessly fascinating and often inspiring.

Cascio’s website
Features lots of in-depth posts on topics related to scenario planning and possible futures.

Video: Bots, Bacteria, and Carbon
A good half-hour introduction to Cascio’s thinking; explores the potential course of planet Earth over the next 50 years, painting a picture of what a sustainable, resilient world could look like. Working with multiple future scenarios, he shows the often-unexpected ways in which the choices we make today will shape the decades to come.

 

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