Rob Hopkins on resilience at the RSA
Rob spoke with his usual flair at the RSA* recently, and the talk was broadcast on Radio 4. He gave an upbeat overview of initiatives that epitomise the kind of resilience he sees as vital for our communities to survive the growing challenges that confront us economically, climatically and in terms of diminishing resources.
He painted a picture that was not solely based on an ‘official’ bunker mentality of Meds, Sandbags and First Responders. Identifying this approach as Rob Hopkins 2.0, he discussed the current situation, including
Economic volatility and crisis
Oil price volatility and decreased production
Rising costs 0f imports
Strangling of economic growth and production going into reverse
He asked the question – if resilience means not just being prepared, can it mean economic and social renaissance?
He cited examples of innovation which demonstrate how this can be achieved:
Community supported agriculture
Norwich Farmshare CSA scheme was started by TT Norwich: it has 70 members and provides seasonal local produce. It is an example of how local food security also builds a sense of community.
The Brixton pound has been with us for the last 3 years. Brixton Council backed it because money that stays in Brixton supports local traders and businesses. A new pay by text system is also available and setting a trend taken up in other areas. The Bristol pound is another local and phone based currency backed by its city council.
Community energy schemes
Bath is planning a community energy company run and owned by local people. £70k was raised in a local share launch, and PV panels are being placed on public buildings including schools.
Sunshine Ale from Harveys Brewery in Lewes is being made using power from a community energy project: Ouse Valley energy raised £300k+ in a local share issue to install pv panels.
The recent Transition North event featured a fresh local food shop in Slathwaite which was started because the local store was closing - £15k was raised in shares and Green Valley Grocery is thriving. The Slathwaite Garlic Challenge was started to get locals growing it for the shop to avoid imports, and a cooperative called Edibles is now supplying the shop.
Enterprise in context
Energy security is inseparable from the transition to a low carbon economy. These enterprises are seeing where business opportunity exists and can build better community resilience.
Local ventures of this kind allow local investment in them, for example, through share issues. This contrasts with out of town developments, which displace jobs and divert money away from local communities. Rob stressed the need to recognise strategies that undermine local resilience and not only resist them, but devise better ones that enhance community resilience.
He classifies such enterprises as a bottom up drive. Local hubs, mentoring, local enterprises, and models for local investment are all happening from the bottom up and not from the top down ie. they begin with people in the community and not from outside it.
As Rob says, if we do nothing the future is unthinkable. We need to turn things around on the necessary scale, and only we, the people, can do it
- (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. Through its ideas, research and 27,000-strong Fellowship it seeks to understand and enhance human capability so we can close the gap between today’s reality and people’s hopes for a better world.