Saturday 3 April 2010

Preparing for sudden change

Over the last couple of days I've been writing about my growing sense that our economy, and you might say our current civilisation, could unravel surprisingly quickly, and that this could happen at any time. Today I want to think a bit more about what it means to be resilient in the face of such a profound change.

I explained that David Korowicz suggests that so much of what we depend on - spare parts, an electricity supply and so on - might quite suddenly become unavailable. This reminds me that, for example, the flour mill we want to buy for Norwich depends on electricity to make it run. Or that, while I've recently learned how to use a chainsaw to cut up firewood, in future I may not be able to replace the blade, or the spark plug, or buy petrol or chain oil. So, while the chainsaw might be useful for now, I should also be buying some really good handsaws and axes, and learning how to sharpen them. Better still would be to know, or be, a blacksmith who can make a saw in the first place.

I often think of building resilience in terms of the five capitals - human, social, natural, physical and financial. Physical capital means things like owning land, or owning good tools that don't depend on spare parts from the other side of the world. Natural capital includes building the fertility of the soil on the land we use, growing hedges and maintaining biodiversity. Financial capital is tricky because so much of the financial system may be about to implode, but maybe a few gold and silver coins would be a good investment for a rainy day.

Human capital is an area where we can do a lot to prepare ourselves. This includes building skills like growing vegetables, sharpening saws, or practicing hedgerow medicine. It includes staying as healthy and strong as we can. It also includes the kind of inner resilience that Charlotte talked about in Coming Together in Resilience. One of my own biggest struggles is to enjoy the present, to feel the joy of living and not get dragged down by my fear of change, and this too is part of being resilient.

And lastly, social capital is what Transition is all about. The networks and friendships and relationships we're building, through the Circles and the other groups; the CSA and the food buying group; but also of course the relationships with our families, neighbours, shopkeepers, farmers... all these are what will hold together as the economy starts to fall apart. Have a party. You know it makes sense.

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