A LONG LUNCH AND IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS
7 November 2016
“What a beautiful place to start a revolution,” were the opening lines of Dr Steb Fisher, Research Fellow in Sustainability at Southern Cross University and former BP executive, as he addressed leaders of the Bathurst community at the recent Resilience Long Lunch. On a glorious spring day a long table was set amongst the flourishing Rahamim community gardens, with seasonal, organic Rahamim food served during important conversations about resilience for food, water and land in our region.
Dr Fisher used a simple analogy to focus the problem. If we were to design a “user’s manual” for Earth, the understanding of its systems would (we might presume) fall mainly into the province of scientists. Yet the current “user’s manual” for humanity is provided to us by economists, politicians, religions and culture with little reference to the teachings of science.
Most of our economic, political, cultural and even religious institutions operate on competitive principles. Relentless competition demands infinite resources from a finite planet. Coupled with carbon emissions, the current trajectory, many argue, has triggered a climate emergency, a time of great flux in which the very survival of human (let alone other-than-human) communities is doubtful. Making the shift from a competitive to a collaborative worldview, Dr Fisher argued, could make all the difference to the survival of these communities. The richest 1% of people on Earth currently hold 40% of Earth’s wealth. According to Dr Fisher, “this is the stuff of revolutions”.
Slow-onset disaster is happening now, changing seasonal rainfall events, increasing heatwaves, storm and bushfire events, and affecting many other natural systems. Our current lifestyles have limits and are likely to be forced to shift suddenly and dramatically as questions of availability of food, water and land come to the fore.
With so much in a state of flux, Dr Fisher revealed what he believed would be necessary for each community to become resilient and adaptable:
Planning: He believes it is critical to plan for this difficult time of transition now. Communities will either shift or collapse. Planning for slow-onset disaster, he said, requires each of us as individuals to ask a question at the core of our being: How am I going to “be” with this challenge? If I have access to something that is needed desperately by others in my community, how will I “be”? Will I be resentful and competitive or connected and collaborative? This takes us into the realm of our inner life, a spiritual or contemplative way of knowing and being. Therefore, Dr Fisher argues, spirituality is of critical importance for future resilience and adaptation of communities.
Information: To assist this state of transition to a collaborative approach, Dr Fisher believes communities need access to a range of information about the community which is not currently shared (and often not known) in one central place.
One way to do this is to create a space for a community display, similar to a Cabinet War Room or a bushfire control headquarters. The display would contain information and stories about how the community functions and connects around local services and knowledge. According to Dr Fisher, various levels of government will not provide this, so communities need to take matters into their own hands.
This, he predicts, will assist the “revolution” of our times.
Messages to: Sally Neaves