As you might recall, the area where I and many others live was hit by catastrophic and devasting flooding, a true outcome of accelerated climate change. (Thanks for your messages from last week!) I am ok, but many, many others are not. It’s been all hands on deck.
So this week I wanted to share a story about resilience and leadership – with a caution.
The little 50m bridge down my street, which had stood for 80+ years, washed away with the flood, leaving about 80 people stranded on the other side with no way out, limited food, no power or phone. One dad had his kids over there with his ex, and couldn’t get to see them or bring them the food they needed. It’s been really tough all round.
Initially, a pulley system was rigged up to send supplies over in a little boat across.
Then over a few beers, while nutting out the priorities, someone got the idea of ‘let’s build a bridge.’ The idea got a resounding YES and soon machinery and good humans worked together over 3 days in the flood, heat and mud – neglecting their own properties and lives to help others.
Within 3 days these absolute legends built a bridge – heartily fortified with determination, food, smokes, diesel, and (a few more beers.) The last photo is of Kate who walked (jumped) across to the other side and freedom!! Everyone is now able to cross. Sooooo good!!!!
All this is wonderful and should be celebrated – it’s a fantastic example of what can be achieved when people mobilise around an inspiring vision or idea. But here’s the caution: don’t let this be the whole story. Don’t make it only into a tale of those plucky and resilient hillbillies. This loses sight of the bigger picture for what we need to create lasting change.
The whole response to this climate disaster in my area has been 100% led and done by civilians. We came together – like everyone up here – but there has been no government response or help.
Humans are amazing and resilient beings. I know this from the work I did at The Hunger Project. I know this from the work I do in organisations – and in my own community. However, relying only on the resilience of people – without the accompanying institutional and organisational responses – isn’t sufficient. To face the challenges of our uncertain future, we need the partnership of both – good humans who are empowered and in action – and the agencies, funding, government, and far reaching initiatives that require clear sightedness and appropriate action.
Leadership can be activated within people – as we’ve seen, people are ready, willing and so amazing. And it needs to be empowered with structures and systems that support inclusive, dynamic, courageous leadership. We need to mobilise and apply collective activism to make it happen. This is true for your organisation, your community and your country. It’s the only way. Let’s get to it!
Thanks for reading. If you want to donate to what’s happened up here there’s lots of good places. My money is mainly going here. Please give if you can.
Till next week,