Planning for Rural Resilience: Coping with Climate Change and Energy Futures ed. by Wayne J. Caldwell (review)
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Planning for Rural Resilience: Coping with Climate Change and Energy Futures. Edited by Wayne J. Caldwell. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015. 192 pp. $31.95 paper.

Planning for Rural Resilience concerns itself with the issue of resilience in the face of dual threats of peak oil and climate change in rural Canada. Published by the University of Manitoba Press, Planning presents 10 perspectives on building and developing more resilient rural communities. The book not only presents new areas of consensus and discusses disagreement around the concept of resilience, what it means, and what it looks like, but it also offers important frames through which planners and practitioners, elected officials, and farmers and rural community leaders should approach building this important trait.

Planning gives attention to building "anti-fragile" city centers and centers of communal life before and after natural disasters, to planning development in line with natural processes and needs on a grassroots level, and to prioritizing green infrastructure at the policy level. The text addresses how increasing energy costs, climate change, and dependence on personal transportation and fossil fuels will impact rural resilience, and discusses the benefits and impact of energy independence. Agricultural strategies to build resilience for the future of food and farming in rural communities is emphasized throughout.

This book is focused on thinking, practice, and case studies coming out of Canada; however, guidelines and lessons learned can be applied in Great Plains states and rural communities throughout North America. In chapter 5, authors Lapierre-Fortin, Caldwell, Devlin, and White explain that community resilience, no matter its location, requires intentionally developing personal and collective capacity to respond to and influence change. The key is to build a sense of agency, empowering community members to face challenges together and to develop new strategies for an uncertain future. Not only must rural communities be innovative and practice conservation and land stewardship, but they need to work together, building stronger relationships with new and long-time neighbors as they go.

I appreciate the no-nonsense discussion of protecting water and natural resource quality, implementing climate change mitigation strategies, and reducing rural dependence on fossil fuels as an integral part of building rural and agricultural resilience. Planning for resilience requires deep involvement and commitment from communities, as well as systemic thinking. It also takes a desire to be responsive not just to destruction or chaos, but to anticipate it and create systems and relationships that can more equitably weather trying experiences. The dual threat of climate change and peak oil certainly present a situation that calls for action sooner rather than later.

Planning is a comprehensive look at the basic units of resilience and how they are built, restored, and maintained. Protecting agricultural land and restoring ecosystems, while consuming far less energy, is critical. Assessing and developing strengths, welcoming new perspectives and needed technologies, and committing to action are steps in the process. This is an excellent text for practitioners, government officials, and community members. Planning for Rural Resilience does an excellent job of providing the big picture and essential details of coping with changes and building long term resilience in a rural context. [End Page 59]

Lauren Kolojejchick-Kotch
Lincoln, Nebraska
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