I like to solve problems by looking first at the extremes of a continuum. In this case, I can either resist something I am trying to avoid or adapt to it.
Let’s look at some examples.
One example I’ve seen often is how we try to prevent snow from drifting onto roads or walkways. So we are on the same page; snow fences are those lines of vertical slates, usually orange or red, that I see along open stretches of road, often paralleling farmers’ fields.
These snow fences create snow drifts on the leeward or back side of the fence based on wind direction. The physics of what happens is simple. The energy of the wind carriers the snow, then when it hits a barrier – in this case, the snow fence, it loses some of its energy and has to drop the snow before moving on. Thus, the wind has a much smaller snow load as it crosses the highway.
Another serendipitous event (I love using that word) happened when an Edmonton public transit bridge was being built to cross the North Saskatchewan River. The barrier, in this case, was not a snow fence but an artificial berm. The river’s energy to carry sand and silt downriver was dramatically reduced, creating a lovely sandy beach. It quickly became named Accidental Beach.
It was well received by the citizens who have few beach opportunities in Alberta. But a lot of paperwork is involved to alter a river’s course deliberately. The jury is out on the future of our Beach.
My last example is the research around using this simple understanding of building or maintaining islands. About 40% of the world’s population live near coastal waters. Climate warming is putting many homes and even countries at risk of being submerged.
Projects to build dykes, and seawalls as barriers to resist the rising waters are being constructed.
Now you can see where I’m going with this.
But some very promising concepts are trying to adapt instead. For example, in cooperation with the Maldives chain of many islands, large sandbags the size of a car are being dropped onto the ocean floor. The energy of waves – the same energy source that created Accidental Beach, is making what I’ll call the Deliberate Beach.
In my life, I think of it as swimming downstream at an angle that is often my best option to reach the safety of the shore.
Please give this a bit of a think. To adapt or resist, that is the question. Is there something in your life that you have consciously used one, both or a combination of the two ideas to address a situation you were faced with? How did it work out? What would you do differently if you could go back and take another run at solving the issue?
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think below.
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2 thoughts on “Adapt or Resist”
The school where I work has a new administrator, not surprisingly because the school board doesn’t like to keep a principal in the same location for more than few years. Our last principal was a fanatic about pick-up at end of day and the rules were strongly enforced. No stopping in the loop, keep circling, no parking in the teachers parking lot, only pick up your child at the stop sign, absolutely no temporary parking in the two handicap spots! She would often come out and shout at the parents while gesticulating. A parent once told me she should be on Valium. And I was the enforcer! Well things have changed. New principal, new rules or rather no rules. I’ve learned to turn a blind eye and relax. It’s anything goes now, park where you want, move if you are honked at. Within 7 minutes they’ve all gone home. I’ve learned to go with the flow and embrace change.
I hope the student safety record is high, given such a major swing in enforcing rules.