Noun: Ecologically informed infrastructure
Working Definition: Ecostructure™ is a framework to replace current infrastructure models based on siloed approaches to develop or remediate distressed natural resource areas. This new framework uses ecological systems and environmentally informed tools to modify or rebuild soil structure, plant cover and species habitats in response to destructive effects of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation.
Sometimes it can seem hard to visualize what a successful sustainable community can look like. The technical, political, social and environmental challenges can be daunting, the costs prohibitive, and the timeframes unrealizable. And yet, there are many examples of places that have organized themselves in ways that environmentally, socially, and even politically sustainable. Indeed, some of the most promising new solutions are can be found in very old ways of supplying the water and food on which basic survival depends.
Think of it as an all-of-the-above community resilience strategy.
For the last couple of decades, the response to global climate change has divided into two sharply-defined categories. Climate change mitigation is the effort to choke off carbon pollution at its source, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from a 1990 baseline by 2050. Adaptation refers to changes in physical and human systems—from sea walls along the Atlantic coast, to more resilient bioregional planning that anticipates future water shortages in a warming world.
One of the most exciting developments in how using a Force Majeure and and Ecostructural perspective can have dramatic positive real world effects lies in the ongoing experiment in building a sustainable medium sized town in Central Ohio.
The city of Oberlin, Ohio and Oberlin College are trying hard to become a living example of a comprehensive approach to resource management that boosts community resilience, prosperity, and sustainability.
Other jurisdictions can make similar gains by adopting some of the specifics in Oberlin’s plan, supported by a theoretical superstructure that emphasizes democratic decision-making and a long-term, strategic focus.