Turns out those dorm-room bullshit sessions about the zombie apocalypse were actually useful.
“If you’re planning for one catastrophe then you’re preparing yourself for other ones, too,” says Danielle Hiscock, director of the inaugural Edmonton Resilience Festival. “Sure, zombies aren’t going to come—but then you have a preparedness kit, so if there’s a fire in your building you grab your kit and you run; if a winter storm breaks down your power for a few weeks, you grab your kit and you survive in place. It really just brings a light, fun way to have that conversation with your friends, with your family, with your neighbourhood, with your community leagues.”
Hiscock was inspired to create the Edmonton analog of a festival she discovered in Guelph, ON, so she teamed up with the Local Good nonprofit group to put together a two-day series of hands-on workshops, focused around the somewhat nebulous concept of resilience.
“Is Edmonton built, and does it have social structures in place, that if there was a change to any of the systems, could we bounce back?” Hiscock asks. “Can we still produce our own food? Can we still have an economy that employs people so we can still enjoy our lives?”
Food is, unsurprisingly, a big part of the Edmonton Resilience Festival: food and drink are as much immediate concerns in mundane life as in a disaster. Plus, Hiscock notes, our city’s pretty obsessed with food right now.
“Edmonton is food crazy!” she says. “People want to garden; people want to eat local.”
Many of the workshop submissions Hiscock received were food based: the Resilience Festival features workshops in canning, pickling, making apple cider, beekeeping, cheese making, herbalism, permaculture, organic gardening and vermicomposting.
Of course, Edmonton probably won’t face a zombie apocalypse—though natural disasters are only a matter of time. Developing self-reliant individuals and communities isn’t just for the sake of disaster preparedness, either: given the abysmal state of Alberta’s current economy, it sure wouldn’t hurt to have the sort of skills on offer at the festival. Who doesn’t want a basement or closet full of homegrown cheese, jam, organic vegetables and honey? Moreover, who even knows how to properly sew a damn patch on to a pair of jeans? Sure, all these skills can be gleaned from YouTube videos—but it’s sure easier learning from a live person who can troubleshoot your efforts. Plus, what if the power’s out?
“A lot of changes are going to be gradual,” Hiscock says. “These are things we can do ourselves; they’re not that far out there; we don’t have to wait for the government to implement beekeeping in schools in 20 years. It’s tangible; we have people in the community that want to share their skills.”
Hiscock hopes the festival will eventually be completely free and accessible to everyone, but this year they had to charge a fee to cover their costs. You can also purchase a full-day workshop stream; tickets to individual workshops that still have space available will be released about a week before the festival.
Developing a healthy network of self-reliant people is simply a good idea, for any community in any place and time, Hiscock notes.
“Even to just teach one person, maybe the next time they look at a processed food item they’ll think, ‘Perhaps I could make that myself?'”
Sat, Feb 7 and Sun, Feb 8
Edmonton Resilience Festival
Boyle Street Plaza (9538 – 103A Avenue)
$25 individual tickets; $65 – $85 workshop streams
Wed, Feb 4 (7 – 10 pm)
Green Drinks presented by The Local Good
Yellowhead Brewery, $10 in advance, $15 at door
Date & Time TBD
Transitions 2.0 film screening