In the last post, I talked about the importance of time in trying to understand the relationship between sustainability and community resilience. In essence, sustainability is concerned with the total amount of resources used by the community over time. Resilience is more concerned with the time required to recover from a disruption, i.e., how quickly resources can be deployed. Thus, while both are concerned with time and resources, resilience is more about time while sustainability is more about resources.
In this post, I want to look at both through in terms of the evolution of a community. We can define a community as a group of individuals and organizations bound together by geography and perceived self-interest to efficiently carry out common functions. Perceived self-interest is meant to imply more than simply financial self-interest. To a parent, self-interest can mean that my kids are going to good schools, have good friends and that I can be the parent I want to be. To an artist, it can mean having a quiet place where I can create and grow in my vocation. To a scholar, it may mean having access to journals and books in my field, and convivial colleagues.
In practice, a community may not have all of the resources it needs to fill every need, but may trade resources from one area (usually economic) to “buy” resources in another. As an example, an isolated rural community might not be able to afford its own hospital, or even be able to support a full-time medical professional, but could forge an agreement with a regional medical facility to operate a clinic.