Climate change is just one of the disturbances which resilient systems overcome.  Resilience is the ability to survive and thrive under any disturbance, challenge or threat.  We hypothesize that resilient systems have eight qualities determine whether a system is resilient.  These qualities are found in all natural systems and all systems man creates.

The eight qualities can be summarized in the acronym CLIMATED.  Below these qualities are summarized.  Click on the titles of each of the eight qualities to access a chapter more fully describing the quality.

The C is for Modular Connectivity. It all begins with connectivity, your willingness to reach out and discover new partnerships and cooperative  enterprises. But we can be too connected. How are we to be both connected and independent? We’ll explore this paradox in the link below.

C =Modular Connectivity-Networked yet Independent

The L is for Locally Self-Organized. The foundation of all resilient systems is local self-organization, but what is local? What scale are you operating within and how does a self-organized system emerge? The link below will give you practical tools and real life examples to guide you in developing a robust locally self-organized food system.

– L=Locally Self Organization in Resilient Systems

The I is for Conservative Innovation.  No system can adapt unless it can innovate.  Yet as we change our systems to become more connected and more self-organizing how do we conserve time tested strategies while not slowing innovation? At the link below are resources to explore one paradox of resilient systems: being innovative, yet traditional.

– I=Innovative yet conservative

The M is for Maintenance and Responsive Redundancy. Foremost among the qualities crucial to resilience are those which back up, maintain and reproduce the system.  Whether it’s a backup business plan, spare parts, seed stock, son, daughter or employee, who’s got your back? Click the link below and improve your system’s redundancy.

M=Who’s got your back? Maintenance and Responsive Redundancy

The A is for Accumulation of Reserves and Physical Infrastructure. Resilient systems accumulate reserves and physical infrastructure to enable them to cope with disturbance. The heart of any resilient agricultural system is high quality soil composed of a diverse set of complementary species.  Soil represents part of the infrastructure any resilient system creates to support itself through any disturbance.  Explore the link below how to increase the reserves and physical infrastructure common to all resilient systems. We begin with the most basic infrastructure-you, the manager.

– A=Accumulating Reserves and Physical Infrastructure

The T is for Transformation. Sometimes innovation isn’t enough, the system must be totally transformed to respond to extreme disturbance. A system can become over-mature, calcified and slow to change in the face of disturbance. Resilient systems embrace disturbance, using it to ensure periodic transformation. Learn about embracing disturbance for transformation at the link below.

– T=Embracing Disturbance for Periodic Transformation

The E is for Ecological Integration. How do resilient systems work with nature?  How do systems become more integrated with natural ecological processes. How can natural processes become ecological engineers working on our behalf instead of enemies to be fought?  The link below helps you make your systems more ecologically integrated.

– E=Working with Nature Toward Ecological Integration

The D is for Diversity, but a complementary diversity. As we work with nature we encounter another resilience paradox. Ecologically resilient systems are highly diverse, but too much diversity can destroy a system. The link below shows that only through complementary diversity does resilience results.

– D=The Necessary Give and Take of Complementary Diversity

Digging deeper into resilience.

Above you learned of the eight qualities of resilient systems.  A natural phenomenon can never be fully expressed in mere words.  Others trying to explain and predict resilience have formulated the eight qualities in different ways.  Deepen your understanding by exploring alternate ways of looking at resilience.

–  Relationships to Other Resilience Perspectives

Perhaps you’re wondering how these qualities are present in permaculture, agroecology and other disciplines devoted to creating more sustainable agricultural systems? The following chapter will highlight many commonalities as well as a few important distinctions.

– Permaculture, sustainability, agroecology, organic agriculture and vulnerability: their foundation in ecological resilience

Resilient systems in Nature don’t worry much about the health of individuals, poverty or quality of life.  Yet we value all these in our human systems.  It turns out the ecologically resilient systems have a dividend:  health and lack of poverty are both associated with ecologically resilient systems.

–  Sustainability, resilience, poverty and health: quality of life

Finally, a review of the eight factors with a focus on building community resilience.

– Resilience never ends: conclusion and invitation

Look in the following appendix to see the methods we used for our qualitative and quantitative studies.

– Appendix I Materials and Methods

Below is the full collection of case studies generated from our study and cited in the chapters above. These case studies will help you broaden your understanding of resilience from real life examples. All of these stories cover at least five years of resilience, others more than 40. Take time to read and enjoy them. 


Hardin Family -The Glue That Can’t Un-glue

Searcy County, AR – There is only one Local

Lessons from a network of new agrarians in Central Arkansas


Will Bowling and 140 years of transformation in Clay County, Kentucky

Strip mines and agritourism at the Conways in Breathitt County, Kentucky

Maintaining Diversity the Bill Best way

Turning played out land into a resilient farm: the Hoffmans of Owsley County, Kentucky

Education for resilient agriculture in a poor rural county in Appalachia

Local self-organization of value-added processing Jackson County Kentucky

Local research and demonstration for resilience at Quicksand, Kentucky

Resilience research at University of Kentucky organic farm

Bringing resilient systems to isolated farms Kentucky State University

Shakertown: demonstrating resilience since 1805


-Cattle and timber and family make for resilience along the river

Turning a pine barrens into tomatoes and watermelons


Beat 4, Forty Years a Cooperative

Connectivity and Redundancy: Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network 

Oxford, MS – Memory and Revolt

-Real Milk in Philadelphia, Mississippi

-Pollinating and Queen Bees in a Resilient System

-Indigenous resilience: the Mississippi Choctaw

-Where everyone knows your name: Neshoba County


Sewanee, TN – The Food System Revival

– Chattanooga, TN – Growing the “Sustainable Blue Collar Town”

– Nashville: biodynamic farm network


-Progressive is bad? Resilience in the High Plains

-Amarillo’s resilience means loving local

Assess your resilience

If you’d like to determine how your community ranks on these qualities, see how you fare on this assessment.