Archive for January, 2012

Podcast of Prof. Willis’ Q&A session

[Resilience] is now a CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) target and they’ve only got 18 targets … So clearly it isn’t just a wacky idea that a few conservationists are thinking about. It’s now firmly within government policy.


Podcast of Prof. Willis’ lecture

I’m sure every single speaker who talks on resilience over the next six weeks will give you a slightly different definition, and I think in some ways that is one of the problems that we have to address: the whole question of what do we mean by resilience?

More on the creation of a ‘sense of place’

Both in his lecture and the Q&A, Prof. Chapin discussed the influence of a ‘sense of place’ in leveraging stewardship.

For those interested in how to go about establishing such a sentiment, here is a talk by Prof. Nabeel Hamdi, author of The Placemaker’s Guide to Building Community and founder of the Masters in Development Practice at Oxford Brookes University. Hamdi emphasises, amongst other things, the importance of participatory planning in effectively creating a sense of belonging. Although his focus is on the urban environment, the principles outlined herein can similarly be adopted for fostering a sense of connection to nature, particularly in those who live apart from it.

And a case study in what happens when it all goes wrong: this TEDTalk by James H. Kunstler amusingly showcases the lack of civic design American suburbia. Thanks to John Zablocki for sharing this with me!

Earth Stewardship: Sustainability strategies for a rapidly changing planet

By Arnaud Sepulchre

For thousands of years, humanity has been altering its environment to its needs and the environment has been adapting to these changes. But how  strong is the planet’s resilience and how long do we have before the irreversible  occurs? The world’s challenge towards environmental sustainability is becoming omnipresent. People often think that a sustainable system is a static system; on the contrary, the concept of sustainability implies a dynamic balance between relative rates of resource consumption and replenishment.

Prof. F. Stuart Chapin introduced us to the principle of Earth Stewardship as a social-ecological change to enhance ecosystem resilience and long-term human welfare. The achievement of this challenge involves a broadened ecology spectrum and integrates it with other sources of knowledge and understanding to stimulate new interactions and partnerships. Moreover, an interdisciplinary approach beyond economics incentives is the key towards behavioural sustainable change and pro-environmental attitudes. Continue reading

Speaker Bio: Professor Kathy Willis

The best way to be introduced to the multi-talented Kathy Willis is to hear about her work and her motivations in her own words:

Getting your hands dirty

If, like Arnaud, you enjoy the psychological benefits of touching, feeling, getting your hands all over nature but don’t have easy access to an allotment, then have a look at Landshare. By putting landless growers in direct contact with landowners who have soil to spare, Landshare brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food. Whether you want to learn a new skill, fill your lungs with fresh air, or simply save some money on groceries, spending a few hours in the muck is likely to be a ‘fruitful’ experience with lasting environmental – and judging from Arnaud’s experience – personal benefits.

Visit Landshare.

Podcast of Prof. Chapin’s Q&A session

One of the things that really impresses me about Alaskan native groups is their confidence that they can adapt. They’ve felt that they’ve always had to adjust to change, they’ve never lots of resources. Each individual is a jack of all trades … so they have to be very efficient in doing different things, and this makes them convinced that they can deal with a lot of differently circumstances – because they’ve done it regularly as part of their lives.
I’m optimistic that many people in poor areas are more resourceful than we give them credit for being. So maybe some of the best ways to enhance resilience is to empower them to use the skills that they already have, rather than developing programmes that bring in resources from outside. Because once people are doing these things for themselves they’ll figure out a way to continue doing them with little or no money, and so it’ll be less dependent on a public finance program.