A Practical Guide To Resilience – Week 02

Last week class, I learned on ‘System Thinking’ and reflected the views of an individual’s on resilience to a community perspective. From an individual’s point of view, I only need to focus on myself, but if I take it to a community of multiple people, the complexity becomes quite large. Individuals are all organically connected and further extend into the social, inter-country world.  We are now better able to see this as we live in an uncertain future through the dynamic and unexpected corona virus pandemic caused by worldwide. 

What is Community Resilience?

When I thought about community resilience, the first word that came into my head was nature around us. Look at the Great Nature. They have always had the ability to recover after huge and unpredictable changes to the local environment, such as fires, floods, snowstorms or injuries. We can learn from this Great Nature. This resilience also happens every day in the human body. When a virus enters our body and an inflammatory response occurs, various immune cells in our body form a system in step-by-step to defend our body : the immune response. They react systematically as if their ranks, order, and roles were all set.  

In the prairie ecosystem, there are various plant species that function differently in the ecosystem, such as nitrogen fixation, water retention, and soil stabilization. These various plants spread throughout the prairie and have different representatives of each species and each functional group, thus improving resilience. When a drought occurs, some species become richer and some species become scarce. 

Thus, from molecular DNA at a small level to an ecosystem seen in nature at a large scale, they are working hard for each other’s resilience in one large system. Just like us every day. We can certainly imitate and learn about community resilience in this nature. 

A Thought on Biomimicry

So, I have brought a case of ‘biomimicry’ that gives these community resilience in nature. In fact, biomimicry has long been one of my interests. As I majored in biology in my undergraduate level and studied stem cells in graduate school a little bit, so I am used to  how life is processed and I also liked the peaceful and green energy that nature gave me since I was young, and I thought there was a lot to learn from there. 

The term, Biomimicry was first coined in 1997 in ‘Biomimicry’ book by Janine Benyus, which introduces the emerging field of nature innovation. In fact, attempts to imitate natural forms have long history. A German philosopher, Ernst Heckel’s fantastic painting of marine animals in his book, ‘Artistic Shape of Nature’,  illustrates the visual order of nature well.

Ernst Haeckel: Art Forms in Nature 

Also, like the golden ratio of Apple’s logo design, the aesthetic nature of recognizing the golden ratio by human instincts  is inherent in nature from the beginning, as shown in the picture below.

golden ratio in nature from google image

Collective Intelligence : Community Mapping

I now examined a ant colony in biomimicry through a macroscopic view. Ants are insignificant in terms of one individual, but form a high intelligence system in colony life. 


Here, ‘Collective Intelligence’, A precursor of the concept was found in entomologist William Morton Wheeler’s observation that seemingly independent individuals can cooperate so closely as to become indistinguishable from a single organism (1910). This concept of collective intelligence is widely used today and is being used by Google, Amazon and other global companies to manage companies and produce product services. I think a good example of this collective intelligence is ‘Community Mapping’. In community mapping, Individuals in the community can participate in mapping directly and actively and maps created by the majority provide great information and help in times of disaster or danger. Like the ‘NYC Facilities Explorer’ map linked by Benedetta, Korea also has a participatory map-making campaign using this collective intelligence. So I want to introduce the examples of community mapping doing in Korea as below.

Community Mapping in Korea

This community mapping has been trying personally and nationally in Korea.  As an individual, Professor Lim Wan-soo has led the creation of a Community Mapping Center to solve various problems in the community through participatory maps. Dr. Lim is currently a professor at Meharry University in the U.S.  and head of the Community Mapping Institute in Seoul, Korea. Dr. Lim is known as a guy who made a map of the New York toilet in 2005 and is an expert in the field of geographical information-based big data analysis and civic participation who was credited with the contribution of the White House and the U.S. Energy Department by creating a gas station map through community mapping during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

Apart from this, a part of this effort in citizen science has done nationally. 

This is a web page of community mapping created by the Korea Land Information Corporation, and as shown in the picture, you can see what kind of mapping is currently being done in which area and I can participate in mapping myself. We can also create a new community list and start a new project.

Dr. Lim Wan-soo’s “Resident Participation-type’s Magok Smart City Smell Community Mapping Project” tried to solve the odor problem in Magok, Seoul, with residents and students in Magok, Seoul, with a sensor-based odor measuring device. They first developed odor measuring instruments and established a smell-community mapping platform via web and mobile app. Using this method, his team and the residents of Magok area inputed and fed the measured information and the data on the community mapping platform using their smartphone. The purpose of the project is to lay the foundation for the odor management actively, which takes into account more by comparing and analyzing what climate conditions and land-use environment odors are generated and what specific environmental odor factors people feel as subjective odors.

Another example is the Gwanghwamun community mapping site in Seoul. Gwanghwamun is the center of Seoul and is one of Korea’s representative historical sites where many civic gatherings take place here because of the city hall and many other important government agencies.  You can download it through the app and upload it in real time like below.

 The map currently shows the location of toilets, convenience stores and emergency facilities, and can provide a meeting place for groups. This place can be uploaded by individuals and shared on other SNS such as Facebook. You can also map temporary stands or temporary food stands.  This community mapping allows users to post necessary information on public data over time and allows participants to easily share information using location information.

There was also a mask inventory community mapping where we could see information about mask inventory status due to corona virus.

So, this week’s thinking of System Thinking led to biomimicry, citizen science using collective intelligence, and finally community mapping. Although it is still difficult to define my own definition of community resilience, I think nature’s resilience, biomimicry has an answer for that. If I ruminate at this biomimicry for the time being, I think I can find the answer in the near future.