The only dogma of Nature is survival. Whoever survives the latest challenge or disruption gets to enjoy life until the next challenge.
Nature demands adherence to no commandments. You are free to go off on all sorts of silly, frivolous and destructive paths. And you will. Nature loves and accepts such messes. . Nature’s only response is to wipe you off the planet when you mess up enough.
Some of us have survived decades of messes and have had the opportunity to observe many people and communities messing up and surviving, Our conclusions from these observations amount to almost-commandments. These are more than suggestions, but not immutable laws since such do not exist in Nature.
We’ve distilled the best of the best of those almost-commandments into a set of antecedents of resilience for you and your community.
- Be connected but independent. You are a community of species and a part of a community of people and other species. We all need genuine relationships with other people and animals and plants, but we must also be independent, able to survive without any one of those relationships. Be independent but part of a community of our own and other species.
- Be self-organized. Don’t depend on others to organize your life. Be creative and create your own order, one which arises from the community which is you and which your are a part of. You are composed of multiple needs, impulses, and desires as are the people, animals and plants around you. Organize them all to create a system which works for you and creates a locally self-organized community.
- Be curious and innovative, but conservatively. Traditional behavior and structures exist because they contributed to resilience in the past. A particular behavior or structure which worked in the past may not necessarily support resilience in the future. But a community which does not preserve the basic foundations of its resilience will never survive. The most innovative usually do not survive. The conservatively innovative are resilient.
- Be focused on maintenance and redundancy. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Some are so focused on efficiency, they forget that efficiencyBe efficient in your work, including creating back-ups for your community.
- Be thrifty and accumulate useful tools. Resilient communities build richer and deeper soils, a variety of skills, water catchment systems, and any other tool which passes the conservative innovation test.
- Be ready for transformation. Always be ready to be born again. You and your community must be open to renewal and must lay a foundation which encourages that transformation when it is needed.
- Be integrated in your ecosystem. Enjoy the natural world where your community lives. Treat your ecosystem as you would your neighbor and yourself. That is, follow the other almost-commandments with the natural systems around you.
- Be diverse and promote diversity, as long as it is complementary. We are built to give and receive. But we are not built to only give or only receive. We must do both. Anyone who only gives or only receives destroys their community.
The above spell out the acronym CLIMATED, fortuitous since climate change and weather extremes are among the most treacherous challenges to any community.
These eight almost-commandments have proven themselves time and again. They are include all the qualities included in numerous frameworks of resilient systems including those of Rockefeller Foundation. Stockholm Resilience Center, international development experts (Frankenberger et al.), Australian resilience pioneers (Walker and Salt), agricultural development experts (Cabell and Oelofse) and many others.
For more information on how you and your community can become more resilient, download the chapters of our free book here.