Elizabeth J Walker is a teacher and writer with many years of experience in living ‘off the grid’.
She gained an Honours degree in Psychology from Edinburgh University while restoring an old tenement flat, and rebuilding a car engine to see how it worked. Having failed to prevent the demolition of her street, she bought a camper van and began a career in event management.
In the Seventies, outdoor events were far less stratified than they are today. With her range of experience, tireless energy and organisational skills, she soon gained a reputation as a trouble shooter.
In the winters, she taught children from a variety of travelling cultures. Elizabeth has lived with gipsy tribes, fairground showmen and others across Britain, creating learning materials and stories on her old Brother typewriter.
With this lifestyle, it was rare to have access to mains services. Water had to be carried from a standing tap, sometimes over a mile away. She used solar panels in the days when you had to solder your own diodes, and cooked with bottled gas.
At the end of the Nineties, Elizabeth moved into a house near Glastonbury, Somerset. There, she moved into steward training, specialising in off grid events. She wrote a Steward Handbook and ran large teams of volunteers.
With the introduction of the 2006 Licensing Act, Elizabeth branched out into event welfare work. With event industry colleagues she formed a charitable organisation – Medical Welfare – to act as an umbrella group, and became involved with the emergency services at Silver Command level.
Elizabeth gained a City & Guilds certificate in further education and taught with Adult Learning and Leisure in the winters, until leisure course funding was cut. She specialised in landscape myths and astrology, creating extensive teaching materials on both subjects.
She learned basic HTML, created a website for their organisation, and managed the content on several other sites. She has her own website now, at elizabethjwalker.com.
Crisis management at events gave Elizabeth direct experience of how situations can develop and plans must be adapted. She became involved with the local Town Council’s emergency planners, where she realised that many of the key elements for a resilient community were not in place.
Working with colleague Linda Benfield, they set about analysing the complex interaction of resources, networks and barriers involved in achieving community resilience. Surrounded by flow charts and spider diagrams, they had a sudden inspiration and reinvented the wheel. Using this Resilience Wheel concept, Elizabeth wrote a training manual for their event volunteers, which evolved into the Handbook of Practical Resilience.
The Handbook can be read for entertainment and individual self-improvement, or used in a more dedicated way. Elizabeth has designed a formal course to teach resilience, underpinned by the Handbook. She can provide training materials for this, including assessments.
‘Recipes for Resilience – Common Sense Cooking for the 21st Century’, which explores your personal food security in more detail, is available here.