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cycles. Causing a conflict to modify FITFIR seems worthwhile, but would be a difficult, long haul. A combined lobby effort by municipalities, environmental groups, disadvantaged user groups, and concerned citizens might do the job, in combination with a lucid public discussion of the water conflicts that are sure to come.

9. Adaptation, resilience/ sustainability, and risk What is the opposite of a boom/bust community? Where might a less tortuous paths lead? Apparently not utopia. Then, perhaps sustainability? Ultimately, what we strive for are communities able to respond to change, to overcome disturbances and to adapt. If the community itself thinks it has a future — a future different from the current situation, one where the cycles of ups and downs have more manageable effects — then some idea of adaptability naturally becomes part of the equation. Working to increase a community’s capacity for adaptive governance is not an easy task, as governance can only operate within a balance between flexibility and rigidity. If adaptive capacity were to give way to complete flexibility, a community would disintegrate into chaos. If it always bounces back to the same situation and roles, it is not truly adaptable. Adaptation can only work if there is some internal structure which remains in place, a familiarity between actors, with institutions which adjust to changing circumstances while maintaining some continuity with the past. Adaptive capacity is often associated with resilience or the capacity to overcome, to survive a period of disruption or distress. Adaptive capacity is a term borrowed from ecological systems analysis, a mathematically inspired version of ecology looking at interactions and feedback loops within ecosystems. Its applicability to social systems and governance is often contested. However, we consider it useful for describing the way a community is able to overcome challenges by adopting a different development or governance path. Survival and adaptation might mean very different things, ranging from internal adaptation (new policies, changing actors, different expertise, new scales and domains of governance) or changing an external environment, to creating alliances with other communities, moving as a community to a new place, or possibly even disbanding a community to enable the survival of others or a larger whole.

Part I: Basic notions for community analysis

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Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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