Further thoughts

This section contains more details about the project, plus thinks pieces and other relevant material.


This project is an exploration into a very large, undefined field with limited resources. One of the questions we are regularly asking ourselves is ‘what can we do in this project that is different and will be of practical benefit to our target groups?’ We hope that the research in Phase 2 described above, will help us to clarify answers to this questions, and to set the work plan for Phase 3.

These are some of the questions we might explore in Phase 3, hopefully as part of a collaborative partnership with a few other organisations.

A. Scoping: Identify the major dimensions on which we may research super-resilience, for example:
• Individual, community, work team
• Physical/logistical, emotional, spiritual
B. Best practice: Where are the best, practical examples of super-resilience? They may be in exceptionally stressed societies, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, nomads or refugee camps.
C. Gathering: What are the best ways to gather and share the best practices we find? Possibilities might include a Wiki website, video material, blogs, and interactive workshops.
D. Innovation: Are there resilience needs which call for innovation to meet them? This could mean new social processes and structures, new individual skills, new services or technologies. If so, how can we encourage such innovations to happen?
E. Dialogue: Our aim is to find leading-edge networks with whom we can work to develop super-resilience in practice, and to learn how it could be disseminated.
F. Dissemination: Currently it’s clear that mainstream UK struggles with the present, and doesn’t want to know about the future. Exploring how to disseminate our outputs may have at least two channels:
i. Early adopters: such as Transition Network, Network of Wellbeing.
ii. Grain stores: when mainstream individuals and communities decide they need more resilience knowhow, where would they turn? Can we place resources in these channels?


Most organisations and initiatives work with a concept of resilience that often means just recovery from detrimental change (disasters, crises, emergencies etc.) – a bounce back mentality. Some consider the next stage, which is to use resilience as a way to improve functions and to learn from coping with change to be better prepared when new changes occur – a bounce forward concept. Panarchy is a term that is often used to describe ecological types of resilience where complex systems adapt through cycles of change that improve or learn each time round – this term can be applied to socio-economic systems.

Adaptive resilience is defined as ‘the capacity to remain productive and true to core purpose and identity while absorbing disturbance and adapting with integrity in response to changing circumstances.’

Super-resilience is the ability to anticipate different futures, to be attuned to weak and early signals of possible change, and to prepare to adapt in the moment as changes appear – it is a constant state of readiness that appreciates that the actual future that unfolds will not have been anticipated and that the learning from previous events and actions is vital but inadequate to cope with the future and that learning comes from not just experience but from imagination. The ‘super’ aspect, meaning ‘above’, refers to placing resilience thinking in a whole system, long-term context by considering the interactions and interference of all the complex global issues that are shaping the world and that any local considerations of resilience are bound up in this flux of change and must make sense within them.

Super-resilience requires the capacity to respond positively, and adapt to exceptionally high levels of challenge, complexity and uncertainty. This capacity could arise from personal or group skills, from technology, organisation structures etc. It includes integrating the highest levels of resilience skills currently available (logistical, emotional, spiritual), and the ability to learn and invent responses to the unimaginable.

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