Play Time Is Over

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Play time is over.

If you don't think the pandemic threat of coronavirus is worth taking seriously, then you're not paying attention to the ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD'S crisis response system ramping the hell up. NIH called it "highly infectious." The CDC said governments *everywhere* need to be taking action.

Odds are that you too live in "everywhere."

That deep pit of primal fear is natural. That's natural. Survival is our deepest instinct.

Two Things

I'm going to say two things here.

1) We're putting together a national US civic engagement counter-coronavirus effort called Shift the Country. It's based on my work as a professional disaster management person who worked on some of the core systems, initiatives, and partnerships in the US government that were supposed to help in case of something like this. I'm a risk manager. I saw a catastrophe coming with this president, and I've been working on building something that could help in a moment like this since he was elected. Actually, it was built exactly for this moment... although I didn't know the exact nature of the catastrophe we would be facing. So here we are.

2) Here's the other thing...

This is going to get bad.

Everyone's freaking out. That's fair. Hard not to do. And we need to. It's okay to freak out.

We also have to get through it.

Part of the secret to getting through it is recognizing that at least some of it is going to suck. A lot. A whole lot. It's going to be unimaginable. People you know now may not make it. You might not. Hell I have asthma myself.

One secret up front to navigating unfolding chaos is to recognize and accept that there's going to be unfolding chaos. Taking a moment here and there to acknowledge that is important. Grieve. Cry. Yell. We're human. If we didn't care and this didn't affect us, is that the life we would want? No. Our humanity is our greatest asset. Yet total meltdowns are not very productive for actual action. (Sidebar... some people will freeze up or have a break down and not be able to get out of that. That's how these things go. Everyone responds differently to trauma, and recognizing that will be important.)

But then it's time to get some shift done.

Because we have got the most major biggest wicked problem wayfinding in front of us than most of us have ever faced collectively in our lifetimes.

Wicked problems are the ones without easy or simple solutions that may never be solved. Doesn't mean you can't take them on though. At scale. And do some good. And so we can.

We need everybody on deck.

All the people. All the skills. All the ideas. All the movements. All the science.

If you think I am over blowing it, then this is probably not the place for you. "We've got serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them" - from the movie An American President.

Try Not To Make Up Stuff That Makes It Worse

Finally...I can worst-case-scenario with the best of them. I am a professional at studying and getting ready for terror and catastrophes. My entire life, and the lives of a very very very many people who work in these kinds of fields, have been getting ready for this exact moment in human history.  Yet, people will keep trying to scare me.  Please.  I created this entire website because the risk of something like this was so high. 

That being said, lots of folks are going around making up stuff to be afraid of - and not just conspiracy theories. As if there's not plenty of stuff to be absolutely terrified of right now. It will help if we focus more on the already-known shorter-term risks, and less on the hypothetical, further off ones. First things first. Plus, distraction and extra sheer terror adds to trauma reactions and overwhelm.

Here's what we can do right now.

We can work the problem right out in front of us. It's a doozy. We don't need to add extra crap to it by making up any more fear and terror than is natural for such a moment. So let's work with what's there.


The Shift the Country work for large-scale civic engagement can help us deal with whatever else comes. That's what it's built for.

And here's the heart of it. Right here. It's not rocket science. And it may not sound powerful... but when you've got a plan to build it, you can make some serious shift happen.

Connection. Community.  Problem-solving. Resilience.

That's the heart. The core. That's what we build on. And lest you think this is a bunch of unicorns, sparkles, and pixie dust, let me just assure you it very definitely is not.

The civic engagement we need to do to navigate this is going to be tough work. Raw. Tiring. We're going to need to be brave. Get out of our comfort zones. A lot.

This framework comes out of deep fights in troubled places worldwide. Terrorism. Deep disasters. Hurricane Katrina. The oil spill. Every disaster that's ever hit anywhere. Stuff like that. This isn't for the faint of heart.

A fire chief friend always used to say, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

We'll Find Ways

We're leading. ALL of us. This is wicked problem wayfinding. Dead-serious problem solving. There are ways through. We can bring light. And maybe a little bit of sparkly stuff. We're going to need inspiration to find our way forward.

If you're feeling powerless and overwhelmed, and seeking some kind of direction for action, you're welcome to join us.

If you're going to sit around and wring your hands and tell us that all is lost... this is not the place. We recognize that some is lost. Not all. We're damn well going to fight to make sure of that. Somehow. We'll find ways.  We're going to need to save this damn planet. This damn country.

I'm swearing a lot today. It's the right moment for it. I wouldn't be swearing out in public if I was part of whatever the jacked-up effort inside the federal government is going to be. We are about to stand up one of thousands of pieces to take on a giant disaster... and I don't work for the United States government. I don't have a clearance.

I don't have to follow very many rules AT ALL.

Which is good. Because we need to take unprecedented, asymmetrical, overwhelming action to mitigate the damage path from this thing. To counter the emerging tyranny coming from the current president. To evolve life as we know it. And quite literally to save lives.

Let's make this shift happen.


This website was created for this kind of moment; for a great transformation.  We have free tools + info that can help people + organizations.  We hold virtual events.  We do coaching at inclusive pricing rates; we do consulting & training for organizations.  We help each other navigate disruption & find ways forward.
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