Find A Way Forward
There are ways through this moment we are in. Yep, it's bad. Still, there are ways through. This site is here to help find those ways forward; often through wicked problems. Everything here was designed to help with exactly this kind of thing, in large part so that we would be able to better find our way forward when the moment struck.
The focus areas were developed in the summer of 2017, in anticipation of something exactly like the moment we find ourselves in now -- in the early summer of 2020. We're in a great disruption, in the form of a pandemic. It's a worldwide catastrophe likely to last us 2-3 years at the shortest. The U.S. is doing an abysmal and inconsistent job of reacting and responding; as a result there are at least 90,000 coronavirus deaths already.
This blog post called "Why" from March 1, 2016 gets into more about anticipating this moment.
For me, the founder here, it goes back to 1992. That's the year I first started studying the science of complex systems highlighted in the "Why" post. The field of systems science was invented around 1972, with the release of a book called "Limits to Growth," announced at the Smithsonian on March 1 of that year. The basic point was an ecological one: ecological systems -- including the earth itself -- have limits to the populations they can sustain given resource limits and capabilities. A basic ecological principal is that if a species overshoots its carrying capacity, that population will collapse. Sometimes it collapses because of fights for resources; sometimes it is disease; often population collapse is a combination of factors. And "collapse" may mean a bit of a reduction - or it could be a significant population reduction. System science itself works with a series of complexities, interdependencies, and feedback loops. The dynamics are not linear; they are not simple cause-and-effect relationships.
The surviving authors of the 1972 "Limits to Growth" work gathered again at the Smithsonian Institute on March 1, 2012. This time they said that we had now officially overshot the limits of the planet's carrying capacity - and that there would be a great disruption. A collapse. One of the researchers said that our challenge would be "to manage the decline of civilization." The rest of presentations at the symposium were updates on the system science that led to that conclusion.
But there is no correlation between anticipated ecological population collapse and civilization itself. Just because a species population might collapse does not mean that the civilization has to.
For the sake of clarity: this post -- and this entire website -- are working with the conclusion that the pandemic we are experiencing is indeed that great disruption, and that the population collapse that will come is likely to be caused by coronavirus in combination with a number of other factors that are likely to include violence, conflicts over resources like food and water, starvation, failed nation-states, and other factors tied to system interdependencies and cascading effects.
It sounds bad.
It will be.
That being said, it was not unexpected. This site, this founder, and many thousands of other people have been thinking for years about what we can do when it happens; how we can find ways forward.
The point is that we can find ways forward. We can find ways through.
It is definitely going to suck. That we know for sure. There will be a whole lot of bad. Not everyone will make it. We know that for sure, too. Some of us are at higher risk than others. Some of us have higher exposure than others right now because of our jobs, housing situation, lack of housing, or other reasons. Those of us who are hiding ("sheltering at home") can't hide out forever. At some point, those of use who have been hiding out may need to venture out into the world and risk exposure for one reason or another. Almost no one will be able to hide out with no contact with anyone for the months -- or years -- that it takes for medicine to get ahead of COVID-19.
Even in light of all that -- we can find ways through. Forward.
Every one of the 25 focus areas were designed to help us find our way forward.
We have to. We have to chart our own paths. We have to help with the navigating. We have to work together on the problem-solving, and the big ideas.
In many cases, our governments are doing a terrible job of charting ways through this. Even in cases where state or local governments are taking prudent moves, they don't have all the answers. We're in unprecedented territory.
Which means -- we have to find ways through ourselves.
We can say it a thousand different ways, but the fact remains: there are ways through, and we're going to have to find them. Together. We're going to need all the knowledge, big ideas, big brains, and big vision we can get.
The thing is - it doesn't have to only be a disruption; to only be a collapse.
It can be a transformation.
Just because it can be transformational doesn't mean it's going to be all sunshine and flowers. It won't be. It's going to be rough. There will be many, many, many "character-buiding" experiences.
Yet the actions we take to find our way through are going to influence who we are on the other side of this thing. There is strength there. Power.
If we take deliberate, intentional actions as we figure find our way through, we'll be making transformation one action at a time. Thousands of ations at a time. Millions. We can make some shift happen.
There are ways to get through this. We find them together.