Introduction: What is Self Reliance?
In Toby Hemmenway's excellent article 'The Myth of Self Reliance' he smashes the concept that we need to be as self suffienct as possible, or that this is even desirable. "A good permaculture design is one that provides for the inhabitants’ needs in a responsible and ecologically sound manner. But there’s nothing in permaculture that says that it’s important for all yields to come from the owner’s site!"
"At its best, self reliance means developing skills to provide for basic needs, so we can stop supporting unethical and destructive industries." The design for Brook End therefore explores how we relate to our community but does focus on how we can become more self reliant, through taking responsibility for meeting our own needs as much as is practical and desirable.
It explores how the ways we can become resilient as a family whether its through food production, community outreach or how we can be the makers of our own medicine. Ultiamtely, Brook End does not lay in a vacuum, we are intimately linked to the local, national & global climates - biologically, economically, politically and socially and how we respond to changes in these climates that effect us is ultimately our resilience building work. Our aim is to not just survive but thrive.
Rob Hopkins, describes how resilience within communities, for example, depends upon;
• Diversity: a broader base of livelihoods, land use, enterprise and energy systems than at present
• Modularity: not advocating self-sufficiency, but rather an increased self-reliance; with ‘surge protectors’ for the local economy, such as local food production and decentralised energy systems
• Tightness of feedbacks: bringing the results of our actions closer to home, so that we cannot ignore them
Using these three elements as guides, we can design Brook End for resilience and integrate diversity, self reliance, tightness of feedback (or closing loop systems) into all that we do.