Thesis Focus: Resilient Communities

For some time, I've been mulling over John Robb's portrayal of "resilient communities".
This conceptual model creates a set of new services that allow the smallest viable subset of social systems, the community (however you define it), to enjoy the fruits of globalization without being completely vulnerable to its excesses.

Robb believes that resilient communities are both a buffer and a preventative measure against massive destabilization at global and national levels, such as we've observed with the continuing economic crisis, and that we could see through cascade failures of vital infrastructural networks (like the power grid) through systems disruptions, i.e. sabotage. We can mitigate our vulnerability by circumventing our reliance on sprawling, highly interdependent networks through self-sufficient, localized nodes, aka resilient communities.

His argument is compelling, rooted in political, economic, and social theory, as well as real world examples. It is both frightening and engaging. This scope of the topic is mind boggling, and its implications are extreme. On the one hand we keep chugging along until catastrophe stikes; on the other, we drastically change the way we live. Either way, Robb is talking about a major paradigm shift, away from our current way of life. On the surface, it seems a romantic notion, but perversely so. The idea of reconnecting with your local community and the environment has the sort of pastoral appeal of a Wordsworth poem. However, the reality of it is more grim. As a result my feeling of commitment to local movements has taken on an urgent tone, and I feel compelled to take action.

That is where my thesis begins. I am struggling with nailing down a specific project, but the focus will decidedly be community building in Brooklyn, probably around DIY groups (urban gardeners, hardware hackers, craftspeople, etc). My expertise in web development along with the short timeframe is leading me in the direction of a website/mashup. I've considered creating a site to host listings of events(classes, farmer's markets), locations (storefronts, hackerspaces, studios), and projects (documentation and schematics). Discussion would be a theme throughout, but maybe not explicitly defined in a forum style application.

I will update further as I continue to research, design, build, and test.