Innovations to Watch

Communities have always had to respond creatively to forces and conditions beyond their control. But this age of peak oil and climate change is disturbing assumptions that for generations have been fundamental to the way communities function socially and economically: their profound dependence on cheap fossil fuels for transport, heat, and innumerable products; and their expectations with regard to precipitation, temperature, seasons, as well as vegetation and animal life.

The rules of the game of community are changing. To thrive, communities have to become more resilient. We have to develop a capacity to assess, learn, adapt, and innovate all the time, especially in terms of the ways in which we meet our most basic needs: food, energy, housing, asset ownership, and the means by which we pay for all this creativity, finance.

These six realms - food, energy, housing, ownership, finance, and community resilience itself – will be crucial to the way communities contend with the forces and conditions unleashed by peak oil and climate change. Of all the innovation that is to occur in the years to come, the strategies, models, and tools that communities develop in these six realms will be key.

 

Overview

Transition to a radically different energy regime challenges all of us to make significant changes in the way we live. No level of action – individual, household, community, region, nations, global – is unimportant. Read more about Energy...
Large or small, urban or rural, communities today face many challenges. How does a community sort out all at once the impacts of economic volatility, land scarcity, an aging population, growing poverty, rising energy costs, and climate change? Read more about Community Resilience...
Finance in the age of climate change and peak oil is a precarious proposition. We live in an integrated, co-dependent economy addicted to growth and to ever greater energy consumption. 75 years ago, community economies were still very much concerned with producing goods and services for local and regional us. Read more about Finance...
Escalating fossil fuel prices are converging with the impacts of climate change and related water problems to make the reconstruction of local and regional food systems ever more crucial. This is no easy task, however. Globalization has hollowed out the infrastructure that served local and regional markets. Rebuilding is a key challenge in our transition to sustainable, much more local food systems. Read more about Food...
The global economy in which we currently live is characterized by a massive concentration of ownership. This is not going to disappear overnight. But we must be proactive. Ownership of the means to finance, produce, and distribute goods and services has to involve more people. It must become more local and more democratic, and more citizens must be engaged as co-producers rather than mere consumers. Read more about Ownership...
Affordable housing is a fundamental right in any decent society. Yet affordability is getting more and more problematic for a great many people. In some places, even professionals like teachers and nurses cannot find housing that costs less than 30% of their monthly income. Read more about Housing...