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CHARACTERISTICS OF RESILIENCE

by Michelle Fox, Director of Art + Communications; and Kenneth MacClune, Senior Staff Scientist

Have you ever read the fine print on our Climate Resilience Framework and left wondering what exactly “Redundancy & Modularity”, “Safe Failure”, “Capacity to Learn” really mean—in practice?

We’ve had the pleasure of working with Jamie Stroud—a talented illustrator based out of Boulder, Colorado—to help us visualize some of ISET’s Characteristics of Resilience.

Agents: Capacity to Learn

There are many instances where populations are given the opportunity to learn from past experiences. Remembering a flood, one man rebuilds his home on stilts. His neighbor repairs his home, failing to recognize that by rebuilding in the same location with the same construction plan as before, he puts his assets, again, in harm’s way.

Institutions: Information

The ability to access accurate and relevant information is a barrier for many communities regarding adaptation and resilience planning. On the left, a group of individuals are able to enter a public library, access information, and share it with their community members. On the right, the library is locked and valuable knowledge is only accessible to a small population.

Systems: Modularity & Redundancy

During a power failure, it is imperative to have a back up power supply that is not dependent on the grid. Food, health, communications, automatic teller machines (ATMs) and many other systems are dependent on a constant supply of power. Traditionally, petrol or diesel generators are used as backup devices. Here is a much more sustainable option—solar panels and batteries on top of a roof. The point of view comes from a dimly lit home that is without power, and we see that an electric pole has fallen. The family with the solar panel is able to stay cool in the summer’s heat, and maintain their usual set of daily activities in the household without relying on municipal power or a continuing supply of fuel.

Systems: Safe Failure

The concept of safe failure recognizes that no system is ever perfect or “fail safe”. It also recognizes that climate change is very hard to predict, and the severity of weather can quickly increase and overwhelm systems. Here, a waterway is designed to break on the side that is facing agricultural space rather than urban space, where the loss of assets can be devastating, and where flash flooding can be dangerous to the population. Though the waterway is failing, people and their assists remain safe.

Systems: Flexibility and Diversity

When designing a resilient community, it’s important to build systems that are flexible and diverse. For example, the cyclist on the left is unable to pass because the one road is blocked. The rider on the right, however, is able to take alternate routes.

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