We’re living in a remarkable time. More than 10 years ago, my friend and colleague Tom Atlee talked about how the world was getting better and better, worse and worse, faster and faster. Those words ring more true with each passing year.
How do we live in these times? Few of us believe that if we just make a few adjustments things will get back to “normal.” Most of us have given up any pretense of knowing what the future holds. How do we live our lives in ways that make enough of a difference to make a difference? I think we do it by turning to one another. I think we do it by rediscovering our own wisdom and our capacity to whatever is needed for the health and safety of our families and neighbors. I think we do it by remembering how deeply interrelated we all are.
Since 2000 The Berkana Institute has been the main base for my work. I’ve had the opportunity to work all over the planet with people who are developing practices which create and sustain healthy and resilient communities. Many of the people and communities I’ve worked with are in the southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South America and most recently, Japan. Together we’ve been discovering core principles, values and beliefs that guide us:
- Every community is filled with leaders
- Whatever the problem, community itself has the answers
- We don’t have to wait for anyone. We have many resources with which to make things better now
- We need a clear sense of direction AND we need to know the elegant, minimum next step
- We proceed one step at a time, making the path by walking it
- Local work evolves to create transformative social change when connected to similar work around the world
Robert Theobald and I first registered www.resilientcommunities.org in 1998. We looked at all the turmoil around Y2K and saw it as a call for people to think about how to be more resilient in the face of any calamity. In 2009 I stepped into what Bill Torbert told me to think of as my “third thirty,” Resilient Communities as my personal base for work in the world.
In early 2010, Japan grabbed my attention. I first lived in Japan in 1970-71 as a student at Waseda University. I met my spouse, Susan Virnig, in the Oakland airport on the way to Japan. We’ve had a personal relationship with Japan ever since. At the Pegasus Systems Thinking In Action Conference in 2009, I was invited to bring Art of Hosting as well as Berkana’s work into Japan, and that was the beginning of quite a journey. In many ways our work in 2010 was preparation for 2011 and the triple disasters of March 11th. Since then I have been working with many partners in Japan to help people step forward to create a new future now. You can see detailed reports of my work at www.resilientjapan.org.