Sustainable Berea: Resilient Household Project

A year ago, in January 2009, an ice storm knocked out electricity throughout most of Berea for several days, and much longer in some outlying areas. If your house lost power, how did you make out? Some households were cold and uncomfortable, poorly fed, routines disrupted, unable to do much after dark but huddle under extra blankets and anxiously wait for the electricity to come back on. Other households stayed warm, enjoyed good hot food, and continued their work and other activities with little disruption. Some households were more resilient than others.

Resilience is the ability of households and communities to adapt to disturbances while maintaining their basic functions.

The failure of the electrical grid in mid-winter was a disturbance for which many Berea households were not prepared. Yet this was a relatively modest stress compared with the likely long-term impacts of peak oil, climate change, depletion of global resources, contraction of the global economy, and upheavals in the U.S. financial system.

Rising prices for energy and food, long-term droughts, and inflation of the U.S. dollar are some of the stresses that may more gradually reduce the availability of energy and materials...

The resilient household will continue to function well despite the decreasing and erratic availability of energy, goods and services.

Preparations to make a household more resilient fall into two categories:

1. Changes that allow the household to function long-term on lower inputs and less cash outflow. Examples include insulating the house, installing low-flow water fixtures, and cutting back on purchases of nonessential consumer goods.

2. Emergency preparations to maintain functions during shorter periods of complete cut-offs of certain inputs. Examples include a two-weeks supply of water stored in jugs, a wood-burning stove and a pile of seasoned firewood, a well-stocked pantry, and keeping a week’s worth of cash on hand.

Last fall, Sustainable Berea developed a short list of suggestions for increasing household resilience. The Resilient Household Project will expand this list and provide more in-depth information to assist Bereans in strengthening their households. They will be discussing water, waste, energy conservation, alternative energy, growing and storing food, emergency preparedness, health and transportation. "Whether you live in an apartment or a single-family house with a yard, there will be recommendations to help you prepare." To start, Sustainable Berea has put together an introductory list of books and other resources.

Economic and environmental changes are accelerating, so it is critical that we move ahead. The time to begin is now when there are still ample resources and no immediate crisis.

Exerpted and adapted from the original post here.

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