Human Ecology

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 15–28 | Cite as

Skunkworks in the Embers of the Cedar Fire: Enhancing Resilience in the Aftermath of Disaster

  • Bruce Evan Goldstein


A coalition of environmental activists and professionals created the San Diego Fire Recovery Network (SDFRN) while the largest wildfire in California history was still burning at the city’s edge in October 2003. Acting quickly while the citizenry questioned governmental ability to protect their rapidly growing region, SDFRN proposed to reduce fire risk in a way that altered residential knowledge practices and identity while reshaping governance relationships. While this effort stalled after governmental agencies restored public confidence through massive fire prevention initiatives, SDFRN’s efforts may not have been in vain. Retained within collective memory, SDFRN contributed to community resilience by diversifying possible responses to environmental change and uncertainty. In this way, flexible, informal learning organizations such as SDFRN may serve as “skunkworks,” seizing on disaster in order to incubate social–ecological relationships that might avert greater tragedies to come.


Resilience Disaster Co-production Adaptive learning Networks Environmentality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban Affairs and Planning ProgramSchool of Public and International Affairs, Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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