Community Resiliency and Empowerment

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The Cascadian bioregion is home to some of the most progressive, sustainable, and resilient communities in North America. Many of individuals and neighborhoods throughout the Pacific Northwest have embraced principles of self reliance, sustainability, networking and locally based disaster preparedness.

Disaster preparedness is especially important within Cascadia given that many of the most-populated areas of the bioregion are near, or vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters such as earthquake, volcano, drought, flooding, mudslide or forest fire. One of the largest threats, the Cascadia subduction zone, is a fault line which parallels the Pacific coastline from Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, through northern California. These disasters have the potential to create a devastating impact on the livelihood and infrastructure of those living within the Pacific Northwest. These sentiments are summed up by Alastair McAslan, a professor at the Torrens Resilience Institute in Australia:

“Our society is becoming ever more complex and our organisational systems are becoming more interdependent, and thus more vulnerable to disruption. If not properly managed, a disruptive event could escalate into an emergency, a disaster or even a catastrophe. There is a fine dividing line between a well functioning state where organizations adopt “just in time” practices and supermarkets operate “lean supply chains”, to one where the utilities fail, the tanks at petrol stations are empty, and our shops run out of food.”

Community resiliency argues that societies must be flexible, adaptable and responsive to adequately respond to these situations, creating workable options on the scale which is emergent from our knowledge of the places we inhabit as individuals and as members of local communities, neighborhoods, and regions. This type of empowerment also helps to strengthen areas to other types of disaster, such as economic crisis, fluctuations in food price as well as incorporating principles of energy independence and self-reliance. We believe that there are and must be connections between the individual, the community and the bioregion which increase the ability of each to support itself; we therefore support resilience on a personal, local, and regional level which share and enhance competencies, preparedness, and support.

This resiliency functions best when broad-based, non-hierarchical networks of individuals and communities work cooperatively to share information, skills, and resources. The Cascadian Independence Project, along with partner organizations throughout the bioregion, is continually and actively working to foster the creation and spread of these networks so that we and the communities within which we all live can be prepared not just to survive, but to prosper during and after whatever circumstances may confront us.