Five resilience attributes

What are the five resilience attributes that help resilience flourish in Ecodorp Boekel? Because we are going to need them!

Humanity will increasingly face global and local risks and shocks and we need to prepare by building a truly resilient community.

A resilient recovery requires investment in five attributes that can help foster resilience on the ground: diversity, redundancy, connectivity & modularity, system feedbacks, inclusivity and equity, and adaptive learning.

1. Diversity

Investing in diversity provides flexibility and the space for innovations to respond to change. For example, our food production will have to be polyculture as it makes food production more resilient to weather extremes, diseases and plaques. In Ecodorp Boekel we have hundreds of different crops, most of which are trees or shrubs that have much longer roots than annual crops. That means they can reach the ground water level much easier in periods of drought.
Natural habitat (high): Our food forest is about 35% of the total area of Ecodorp Boekel. Within a few years, if our biodiversity plan works, our entire ecovillage will become part of the Dutch Nature Area!

Biodiversity (high): High species richness of native flora and fauna including rare or vulnerable species

Food production and crop diversity (high): Ecodorp Boekel grows a wide variety of crops, stores or has access to a variety of seeds with different drought tolerance; and produces protein from 2 or more different sources.

Diversity of livelihoods and productive activities (medium): Some variety of livelihoods, jobs and different opportunities for productive activities within community.

Social diversity (medium): Average distribution across age groups and some variety of knowledge, skills and experience but more would be helpful.

2. Redudancy

Rather than increased efficiency as the only pathway to success, redundancy works with diversity to ensure that multiple options reinforce each other, thereby creating alternatives in the face of uncertain shocks and stresses. For example, for the heating of our houses our primairy heating system is our innovative CESAR heating system. But if that doesn’t work, we have a backup heat exchanger in the boiler in each circle of 12 houses. In the winter of 2023 there was a leak in the system they had to find so the primairy and secundary heating was turned of for three days. It was a cloudy 3 degrees Celcius outside and we started with 20 degrees inside. After three days the temperature dropped only 2 degrees because of our highly insulated hempcrete walls. Reinforced with our body heat the insulation was enough to sustain a comfortable temperature. When the sun shines we all walk in house with summer clothes even in winter, because the sun heats the house more than enough. The central heating system won’t even turn on.

As for all the indicators:

Energy redundancy (medium/high): Our main energy system uses renewable energy and has back-up systems in place that can effectively stand in for main system, indefinitely if necessary. We still need a way to store power into batteries, like in electric cars or sustainable batteries.

Redundancy in food security (high): Ecodorp Boekel can produce more than 50% of their own food (when there are enough volunteers) and additional food sources come from more than one supply chain (e.g., grocery stores, local producers and markets). We might seek extra redundancy in growing insects or having a sustainable fish farm.

Emergency response options (low): Ecodorp Boekel doesn’t have a big risc of natural disasters, only a forest fire and civic unrest. The emergency plan of our municipality consists of measures to host refugees from surrounding municipalities in case of a disaster.
But it is still interesting to make an emergency plan in the course of this project.

Insurance (high): We have all valuable assets insured; access to social safety net programs; remittances and/or credit options. We have very good relations with our insurance company, they financially participate in our projects on a yearly basis. Our relationship with our bank is also good. Our province has invested € 2,5 million in our ecovillage and considers us te be their showroom and living lab.

Redundancy in water supply (high): We have three water systems;
– ground water for the food forest,
– rain water with 90.000 litres of storage to be used for toilets, washing machines and gardens,
– drinking water for the rest of the household usage.

Alternative practices/ways of doing things/human resources (low): We have a small number of people in Ecodorp Boekel with the knowledge and institutional memory of how to perform key jobs in community (e.g., cooking, plumbing, landscaping, farming, water treatment, infrastructure maintenance, design and planning, etc.). But we have plans to rotate and share this knowledge with more and also to test new ideas as alternative practices.

Communication (medium): We can have hotspots with mobiles in case of a disconnected connection to the internet.

Redundancy in income (medium): Ecodorp Boekel has two sources of income (rent and tours), but we are low on reserves and savings, as we are at the end of the building phase. We would like to start a complementary currency for the region to have a redundant money system in case of hyper inflation of the euro.

3. Connectivity & Modularity

Balancing connectivity is fundamental for resilience. High levels can promote recovery and enable shared learning before, during and after a disaster. The website of Ecodorp Boekel is used to share a lot of knowledge and experience on our website. We also have tours at least once a week for companies, municipalities and other interested groups where we share our intel. We have been part of documentaries where we shared information to millions of people.
And to top it off, we are going to make a digital platform to share practical solutions to reach all of the global sustainable goals in your own house, garden and community.

As for all the indicators:

landscape connectedness (high): In Ecodorp Boekel we design and build our area for habitat connectivity to allow movement of native flora and fauna; when our biodiversity plan works we will become part of the natural area next to our food forest; We have some built-in modularity to limit or slow down rapid spread of disturbances, like a small stream and a fence around the food forest to protect the chickens.

Modularity in governance and policies (high): Ecodorp Boekel has distributed and decentralised leadership with Holarchy where the power to make decisions is as low as possible in the organisation; We have boundary setting conditions on newcomers to the community, controlled by a team of people.

Supply chain connectivity and distance to markets (medium): We can grow more than 50% of our own food and provide in other basic commodities in the surrounding area. Our building materials all came from Europe, most from the Netherlands or Germany, our neighbour.

Self-organisation (high): Ecodorp Boekels community culture and policies encourage self-organisation in alignment with shared vision. A lot of the decisions can be made within the roles you have accepted in the organisation. Each role had a goal that is supportive of the goal of the circle of which the role is part of. The goal of your circle is supportive of the goal or vision of the ecovillage. Each role also has responsibilities to help it fulfil that goal. If it fits within the responsibilities of your role and has no effect on other roles, you can execute any task you want.

Social networks and strength of interactions (high): In Ecodorp Boekel is a high capacity and willingness to mobilise practical and emotional support beyond close family units. Social relationships in the community are extensive and characterised by mutual support and a high willingness to act solidary. We support eachother, when you need help at that moment, we have a group chat to ask for help and help will arrive within a short time, we found out.

4. System feedbacks

Where is general information on system feedbacks?

As for all the indicators:

Early warning systems (high): In Ecodorp Boekel we have a role for failures in the houses or installations. Each ecovillager is the sensor in the early warning system and can check for signs of wear or breakdown. They respond by sending an e-mail to the e-mail address of that role or a txt message (when there is urgency) to one of the persons. They have a set of protocols how to react and they are also responsible for regular maintanance of the installations and houses, so they know all there is to know.

Monitoring systems (high): We use Holarchy (derived from Holacracy and adapted for communities) to make decisions and incorporated in it is a monitoring system.
Each role and each circle functions as a sensor/monitor in the community. For example, the role ‘Link with Neighbourhood’ could have a talk with a complaining neighbour. He/she doesn’t know how to solve that complaint, so there is a problem. That problem is solved in the regular meetings of the circle PR where that role is part of.
The most important part of each meeting is called Tensions. A Tension is the difference between the now and the preffered goal. The rol Link with Neighbourhood could bring in the talk with the complaining neighbour. The Tension is the complain (now) and we don’t want complaints (preferred goal).
All persons in the meeting have to help to come up with a plan to solve this Tension. The end of each agenda item is always the question: ‘Does this solve your Tension?’. When there is a Yes, we go on to the next Tension. All roles with all goals and responsibilities are visible in Glassfrog, a free software platform for Holarchy. If someone wants a change in responsibilities for a role, they can just mention that in a regular meeting of that circle and talk about it with the rest.

Regenerative agriculture (high): Although we also get seeds from trusted sources, we have our own seed production and own fertilizers. Knowledge and skills in place, by ecovillagers who followed a course to become Compost Master. We compost most of the kitchen scraps and also use Bokashi to ferment kitchen scraps. The only outside sources for compost materials are horse manure and strawbales, both organic.

Balancing mechanisms (low)

Reflective practices/dialogue (medium)

Emotional feedbacks (various)

5. Inclusivity and equity

Inclusivity and equity are critical for building trust and supporting collective action in responding to risk and change. More equal societies are less prone to instability and conflict.

As for all the indicators:

6. Adaptive learning

As for all the indicators:

One comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *