Monday, November 12, 2012

Community resilience

photo of a tree with a hole in its trunk at the Audubon Center of the North Woods
© harrington
Last September, I attended a Nature and Environmental Writing conference put on by the Loft Literary Center at the Audubon Center of the North Woods. While walking one of their trails from one session to the next, I noticed this holy tree. It made me think about the resilience demonstrated by most of nature. I certainly couldn't function with a hole that size in my trunk but this tree was alive, possibly thriving and contributing to its community. One of the lessons that seems to need reinforcement is that the key to success for humans has to be measured at the community level, not simply by aggregating the amount of individual success of each member. Hurricane Sandy is expected to put a $30 to $50 billion hole in our economy. We may survive that hole, but residents and businesses in New York and New Jersey are far from thriving. I think their problems derive, in part, from over-reliance on centralized, top down systems to deliver energy. The Audubon Center is a partial demonstration of an alternative. The photo below shows the Center's photovoltaic farm and related appurtenances. Imagine a community powered by a network like this where, Internet-like, locally-generated, renewable energy could flow around disruptions. That's the kind of future I'd like to see for My Minnesota.
© harrington