Page 39 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
Many householders at Aurora noted that their knowledge/awareness of energy and water, and broader
sustainability issues, had increased since moving to the development. There are many possible explanations
for this, including the availability of recognisable technologies around the home, and the tendency for
environmental narratives to become ‘normalised’ in the community (Newman and Dale, 2004). However,
maladaptive technologies can also become normalised:
“But when it’s the standard to use those things I guess you don’t even think outside the
square, you think I’ve got the dryer I’ll just put them in the dryer.” (A3)
Developers and builders may further entrench the ‘normalisation’ of such practices by making them part of
the house package:
“The site supervisor was kind enough to let our air conditioning guy come in and pre-wire
or pre-pipe it all, because we’ve got four units upstairs and one here.” (A5)
“It was part of the house and land package… with that particular builder, because not
everybody has it, most people have the evaporative yeah.” (A6)
In terms of resilience, diversity is generally regarded as a good thing. The greater the range of experiences
that exists in the community, the greater the corresponding range of response options available to
be shared. This research found that practices which align with associated technical and institutional
arrangements, and incentives for increased resilience, tend to persist.
“We’ll tend to recycle a lot more things now…we didn’t realise certain things could be
recycled and others not.” (A1)
“If you get exposed to something, you query it, see how good it is, see if it fits in with your
ideas, maybe listen to someone else.” (W7)
In WestWyck, the profile of interviewed householders in terms of age, household unit and cultural
background suggests that a degree of homogeneity exists. In a community that primarily comprises
householders with extensive knowledge, interest, skills and/or experience related specifically to sustainability,
homogeneity is less of a challenge to resilience than it might otherwise be. At Aurora, interviewees included
Australians (4) most of whom had been raised in the country where only tank water was available, so they
grew accustomed to short showers and flushing using a bucket; and migrants (6) who variously refer to
earlier periods in their lives where they learned to adapt to having no water or power for three hours every
day, or not having appliances such as clothes dryers. The diversity that exists in the Aurora community
is a valuable asset that could be leveraged in the event of disturbance. However, in order to benefit from
diversity, a community needs to have mechanisms by which this knowledge can be shared; mechanisms
that facilitate community cohesion.
Community cohesion and knowledge sharing
Community cohesion, defined as the “social ties and community commitments that bind people together”
(ABS, 2002, Berger-Schmitt, 2000) can emerge naturally in a community and can also be facilitated,
supported or enhanced through community organisations and activities (Berger-Schmitt, 2000, Holdsworth
and Hartman, 2009). The significance of community cohesion for system resilience has been noted in the
broader resilience literature (Adger et al., 2005, Cutter et al., 2008, Gilchrist, 2009), as Gilchrist explains:
“It [a well-connected community] is a means of managing chaos, building resilience and devising innovative
collective solutions to intractable problems”
(Gilchrist, 2009)
At WestWyck, described by one householder as an “instant neighbourhood”, community cohesion was an
intrinsic, explicit aim of the development from the outset and, by householders’ own accounts, has been