Tuesday 6
Resilience, Community Action and Social Transformation
Thomas Henfrey, Glen Kuecker, Gesa Maschkowski
› 11:30 - 12:30 (1h)
Resilience, Community Action and Social Transformation
Thomas Henfrey  1, *@  , Glen Kuecker  2@  , Gesa Maschkowski  3, *@  , Juan Del Río  4, 5, *@  , Kitty De Bruin  6, *@  
1 : Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems  (TSC)  -  Website
Bristol -  Royaume-Uni
2 : DePauw University  -  Website
Greencastle, Indiana -  États-Unis
3 : Institute for Food and Resource Economics  (University of Bonn)  -  Website
Institute for Food and Resource Economics Department of Agricultural and Food Market Research Nussallee 21 (Building 2) 53115 Bonn -  Allemagne
4 : Transition Research Network  -  Website
5 : Red de Transición España  -  Website
6 : Transition in France
Transition in France
* : Corresponding author

The session has been convened by ECOLISE, the new network of European Community-Led Initatives for a Sustainable Europe (www.ecolise.eu). ECOLISE member organisations have up to 50 years of practical experience in promoting, creating and living within sustainable communities. Resilience has become established as a key framing concept for many in these grassroots movements, which tend to emphasise self-reliance and adaptive capacity in the face of ongoing and/or permanent change. Building upon the increasing maturity of these citizen-led approaches, and responding to the increasing urgency for broader action and political will to support this, ECOLISE seeks to support and undertake shared learning and collective action among community-based sustainability initiatives.

The session falls within the knowledge and learning pillar of ECOLISE, one of four main areas of its work, and aims to extend its community of engaged resilience researchers. Organised by practitioners and action researchers within grassroots movements for resilience, it draws on experiences of transdisciplinary work at the interface of theory and practice. It will examine relationships and interactions between practitioners' situated and experiential knowledge and the more abstract and theoretical understandings of resilience researchers in a range of disciplines. While most closely addressing the conference's 'Knowledge' theme, it is also relevant to the themes on methodology, politics, patterns of change, trade-offs, and development challenges.

The session will take stock of the accomplishments and limitations to date of community-based sustainability movements (including permaculture, ecovillages/ecoquartiers, Transition Towns and urban-rural interfaces), and examine how more engaged relationships with specialist knowledge producers might further their aims. These movements, mostly arising within industrialised societies, seek to provide workable alternatives to economic models viewed as inherently unsustainable and unable to support acceptable levels of well-being in the face of key resource crises (climate change, declining supplies of cheap energy, biodiversity loss) and increasing levels of inequality. Discourses on resilience within them draw upon contemporary scientific understandings of the dynamics of ecological and social-ecological systems, often in sophisticated ways. They nonetheless exhibit a lack of clarity over definition, operationalisation, and monitoring and evaluation of associated actions.

The session will start with three brief opening presentations on key issues arising from the work of resilience practitioners, particularly as experienced in the early stages of ECOLISE:

- Kitty le Bruin (Transition France): Transition: Building Resilience Through Community Action

- Juan del Río (Spanish Transition Hub) & Lorenzo Chelleri (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Building Resilience in the Context of Economic Crisis: the Transition Movement in Spain.

- Gesa Maschkowski (Bonn University and German National Transition Hub). Personal Resilience, Transition and Behaviour Change: a Salutogenetic Approach.

- Dr. Glen Kuecker (Depauw University, USA). Whose Resilience? Grassroots Sustainability Movements and the Global South.

Subsequent discussion will employ Open Space technology. Participants will propose several discussion questions within the general theme of the session, and move freely among small groups dedicated to each of these.

Potential discussion questions include:

  • What will resilient societies look like, what forms of practical action and capabilities can promote resilience, and how can progress towards these aims be measured and assessed?

  • To what extent is resilience an end in itself, and to what extent a means to other goals? What relationships does it have with aims such as increased well-being, equity/social justice, and the creation of healthy human cultures and biosystems?

  • How is personal resilience connected/correlated with resilience in social and/or social-ecological systems?

  • What governance mechanisms can best facilitate learning and cooperation between local action (within communities of place) and broader geographical scales (bioregion, nation, global...)?

  • How can existing systems become fertile ground for transformative action?

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