"The end of the age of cheap and easy energy, the vast mountains of both private and public debt that we have incurred, and the snowballing costs of climate change impacts are all forcing us into an as-yet-undefined post-growth economic system…whether we are ready for it or not." ~ Six Foundations
Goodbye sustainability, hello resilience. The sustainability mantra was held together by the idea that by following the right mix of community leadership, social change and green tech solutions we could stop the effects of a changing climate and resource depletion before we crossed a certain threshold. Well there are good indications that we missed the boat on that one.
So now resilience is the idea of the moment. The resilience mantra is about reducing vulnerability whether that be to natural disasters, financial shocks, increasing wages disparity/low wage growth, supply price increases (e.g. electricity), or breakdowns in supply chains.
Consider, now, your own bio-region in terms of resilience. What is its culture? For instance in my bio-region our present culture is dominated by a low socioeconomic demographic, as we have a significant number of aged persons and younger persons living on welfare. Additionally, wages are lower when compared to capital cities. These factors increase the vulnerability of our population. Our educational levels attained across the population are lower than that of the capital cities. Degree educated young women head off to the cities or larger regional areas for career opportunities resulting in a young adult male population who find it harder to find partners. The area is also known for obesity, and poverty and educational levels are no doubt a contributing factor.
Like many other regions throughout Australia our manufacturing sector has lost major manufacturers over the last few decades. Like many areas without much of manufacturing sector we have high levels of unemployment.
Though we are known as a food bowl due to our large and diverse agricultural sector I was interested to see how quickly our stores ran out of supplies like bread and milk during major flood events earlier this decade. This happens too when cyclones start travelling down the coast as people rush to prepare themselves for a possible disaster.
During one of the aforementioned floods there was widespread concern throughout the community that fuel supplies would be cut off due to the Bruce Highway being cut a few hours north of us. This led to long queues at petrol stations. On one occasion during this period my husband filled up the petrol tank on one of our vehicles and filled a jerry can because he was going to mow the grass. When he went in to pay the lady at the console had a dig at him about panic buying. I wonder how many other people with acreage to mow were treated with the same suspicion? It just shows how edgy people become in extreme situations. In actuality our fuel supplies come from down south, so the panic buying was unnecessary anyway.
Our local public transport system is basically non-existent. What about yours? If you had to, could you use public transport to travel from home to work? What about grocery shopping - how easily could you take your groceries home using public transport?
Organisations and members of the community have tried over the last decade to start a community garden in our local area but the initiatives did not take off. There are no LETS, Time Banks, or Community Exchange Nets, operating in the region. The only cooperative is the local fruit and vegetable growers co-operative. What about where you live? Does your community have any of these types of initiatives operating?
On a more positive note we do have some good markets run throughout the region. Markets can help build a sense of community connection and could, with the necessary support, be utilised in times of supply chain breakdowns to provide the community with food and other items.
In my opinion the people within our bioregion are very vulnerable to changes in climate, economic shocks and supply interruptions and our community is definitely not ready to transition to a post-growth economy. How resilient do you think your bio-region is?