Resilience Reflection #21: Resilience begins at home

In this week’s issue of  Resilience Reflections ,  Carmen Schoemaker shares her experience in raising little kids to be resilient on their bikes in the crowded Dutch streets. She makes a case for beginning at an early age and for giving the right green example as a parent. Resilience starts with individuals, and it starts small.

In this regular series by the  Resilience@UT  and  4TU Resilience  programmes, UT researchers share their personal reflections on current events and trends that impact our daily lives, exploring their implications for resilience. The series is just one of many UT initiatives responding to the urgent need to respond to rapid societal and environmental change. As an academic institution, we have a role to play in strengthening the resilience of the social, technological and environmental systems that support us. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Resilience begins at home

This morning, I started my daily adventure of dropping off my kids at school. The schoolyard was buzzing with parents seeing their kids off, managing the morning rush, and chatting with other parents. The streets and parking lots were overflowing with cars, some parked, others trying to manoeuvre their way through the daily congestion. While attempting to navigate the labyrinth of streets and cars, a sense of agitation welled up within me, as I struggled with the challenge of safely reaching the main road, also congested with dangerous traffic jams in both directions. Are all these cars necessary?

Selecting two wheels over four

Despite also having a car at our disposal, I chose a different mode. Selecting two wheels over four, I accompany my kids to school by bike. The choice is based on two strong beliefs. First, I think teaching traffic safety is best done by actually riding a bicycle on the streets. As cities become more crowded, urban centres face increasing congestion, and this skill becomes not just important but essential. Second, I am driven by the profound belief that reshaping the world begins in childhood. Teaching our children the advantages of bicycles over cars not only imparts a lesson in environmental responsibility but also teaches the importance of resilience and adaptability.

Promoting cycling improves safety and sparks environmental awareness. It’s a small start, but resilience begins with two pedals and a commitment to a sustainable, safer future.

Leading by example

Maybe we should pay more attention to the small things that embody resilience. Could these seemingly minor choices at an individual level, on a large scale, have as much impact as the significant decisions made for us by public authorities and corporations? Taking a closer look at what resilience means in everyday life at home and in our community may be an important aspect to consider.

While I am not a scientist or researcher, I believe that each of us encounters enough in our daily lives to contribute our fair share. Fostering resilience is about recognizing the potential influence of our everyday actions. Choosing a bike over a car may seem insignificant, but it is a step towards a more resilient lifestyle and future.

About the author

Carmen Schoemaker is the secretary for both the 4TU Resilience Engineering Center as well as for the Resilience@UT Programme. Carmen’s work mostly consists of supporting the numerous staff members across the four technical universities and organizing their events. Next to this professional line of work, Carmen is highly interested in the various topics examined within Resilience Engineering and has been wanting to share her views on the interpretation of Resilience in our daily lives since her joining the Resilience Community in 2022.

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