When I was writing my book, I wanted to talk about water use in cities through the story of a single city, and I chose Las Vegas (Nevada, not the one in New Mexico) intentionally as a rhetorical device. One of the writer’s tricks is to start readers on familiar terrain and lead them to a new and different place. Las Vegas and its reputation for profligate excess is familiar terrain for a lot of people. I wanted to start there and lead readers to rethink their ideas about what counts as resilience, to rethink Vegas.
I’ve got a piece up today at The Urbanist that grew out of a lecture I did a few weeks back to UNM Water Resources Program students offering a layer below the book’s Las Vegas chapter. We’ve been talking about water governance this semester, and I laid out an argument that the evolution of water governance structures in Las Vegas have made that community more resilient in the face of pressures on its water supply:
The ability to band together to take collective action for the common good is a key to resilience in human systems.
In some sense, that’s the broader theme of my book – that successful institutions are the key to resilience.