The Resilience Imperative: Co-operative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy

Author +
Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty

Year: 2012

In his new book, CCEDNet founding member Mike Lewis, of the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal, builds on 35 years of leadership in community economic development, the social economy and development finance in Canada and internationally to cast the challenges facing us in a new light.

With so many books being written about peak oil, climate change, and their implications for our people and planet, what’s different about The Resilience Imperative? Its central thesis is that climate change and escalating energy prices compel us to reinvent our economic life on a much more local and regional basis. But how to do it? This is the vexing question. How do we forge a steady-state economy that is socially, ecologically and economically sensible and sustainable? Is it even possible, or just the naive notion of do-gooders?

The Resilience Imperative resonates with the possible! Using a range of theory and incisive historical and contemporary analysis for a launchpad, it presents case after case of creative, strategic action in the world of today. These strategic pathways demonstrate how people in Asia, Europe and North America are learning to meet basic needs for food, land, housing, energy, and finance more locally and regionally. Their example shows how we too might navigate transition and strengthen resilience where we live. Powerfully, the authors bring these innovations back down to earth by revealing the implications, in dollars and cents, for the cost of living of the average household.

By defining connections more vividly and obstacles more clearly, this book helps readers see just what we can unleash once we put our shoulders to the common weal of innovation – locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. We can take on the status quo, practically and politically. Moreover, co-operatives, trusts, and the social economy are crucial to scaling up these innovations and powering down our economic lives to something sensible and sustainable.


  1. Resilience:  The 21st Century Imperative
  2. Wealth versus Commonwealth
  3. A Path Beyond Debt:  Interest-Free Lending at Work
  4. Uniting the ‘I’ and the ‘We’:  Affordable Housing in Perpetuity
  5. Seeking Strategic Pathways to Energy Sufficiency
  6. Seeking Pathways to Sustainable Food
  7. Reweaving our Economies Close to Home
  8. Convivial Banking Innovations:  Seeds for Transition
  9. Federating the Change Agents:  Securing the Gains
  10. Economic Democracy and Cooperative Capital
  11. Ownership Transfer:  Accelerating Transition
  12. From Cultural Captivity to Focused Intention
  13. Epilogue:  The Great Transition

About the Authors

Michael Lewis:  At 25, Mike founded what is now known as the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal.  Ever since, he has been engaged in community economic development (CED), development finance and the social and co-operative economy.  He is a prolific author and a respected practitioner.  From entrepreneurial development to building national networks, from strategic assistance to CED organizations in impoverished settings to designing tools and curriculum to strengthen community resilience, Mike has led hundreds of projects over the last 35 years.  Drawing on this diverse experience, motivated by his grandchildren and increasingly conscious of the interplay of climate change, peak oil and the outrageous excesses of the global finance industry, Mike considers the issues and innovations outlined in ‘The Resilience Imperative’ as the core focus of his vocation. 

Pat Conaty:  Pat is a Californian working in England and Wales.  He is a Fellow of the new economics foundation and a research associate of Co-operatives UK.  He specializes in action research on innovative forms of economic democracy and mutual enterprise.  His work has mainly been in the fields of household debt solutions, community development finance and community land trusts.