War is Personal

As I continue each day to write about disaster and displacement, and how we go on after the unthinkable, I watch as millions more people worldwide are added to the rolls of those made rootless, stateless, homeless by war and weather. Those of us who try to care and help can’t work fast enough to […]

All Knowing Saints

You don’t have to be an all knowing saint. Pure and holy. To be good for the world. To pray for the killing to stop. You don’t have to be a genius of geopolitics and a scholar of the history of the global order to want it to end. It isn’t a prerequisite that you […]

Chaos / Collision

Today I’m working on a hard section of my Big Fat Writing Project. It’s a particular stage of long term “recovery.” When the needs of those impacted directly collide with the bureaucracies intended to “assist”. I’ve struggled with this chapter. Wrestling with this material is a good mirror of the experience itself. (Mirror: a reflection […]

Good Planning

A good plan should be like your favorite pair of jeans, neither too tight nor too loose. Too loose and you end up with your butt showing and that only works in the street not in the boardroom. Too tight and when the right partner/opportunity comes along you can’t dance/move. Or eat. A few holes […]

Starting Places

Five years ago, Judge Ed Emmett rang me up as I was juggling two phones trying to get information about which of our centers were flooded and which were dry. As then CEO of BakerRipley I was thinking past the immediate emergency of drastic flooding and stranded people, trying to inventory what assets we had […]

The Sweat of Terror

Australia Ten years ago I was in Australia, near Melbourne, with people who had lived through a nightmare. The Kinglake fire is still often referred to as Australia’s worst natural disaster. The Black Saturday bushfires killed 173 people, 120 in the Kinglake area alone. Another 414 people were injured. More than 450,000 hectares burned and 3500 […]

Commandments of Help

How to help in disasters Trust is everything. You can move at the speed of trust. Perform within the container of trust. You will go as far as trust can stretch. Improvisation is critical if you want to be effective. If you lack the courage – or the cover – to break useless rules – […]

Limbo Limbo Limbo

slow and low I share about patterns. Here’s the pattern we’re in with respect to recovery (if we can call it that). More about the troublesome nature of that word – recovery – next time. A lot of us are whispering “I’m so tired.” And we aren’t the “get a good nights sleep and all […]

Faith and Hard Work in an Era of Upheaval

(part of a series from the “Shipwrecked Project”)There are many definitions of a hard childhood. By any definition Mario had a hard childhood. A childhood shaped by deprivation and struggle. Mario did not have a complete understanding of the reasons his father abandoned his children and his wife. Though his father at one time served […]

Reckoning

In the aftermath of any catastrophe people and communities journey through a set of stages/states one of which I’ve labeled “reckoning”. Over the past 15 years since I began studying how people go on after the unthinkable happens, I’ve heard many people describe a particular juncture – a painful intersection. When they reached this intersection […]