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[Originally posted to LinkedIn]

The pandemic’s risks arise in at least three dimensions: medical; psychological; social/political. And a challenge arises for each us in one very particular dimension: What do we do now, those of us who don’t hold front-line responsibility for pandemic response? What will we do, and who will we be?

I’m writing this just after a biweekly two-hour call with 32 colleagues around the world, under the guidance of Fernando Flores and BS Rousse. We shared our moods and circumstances in the midst of the pandemic, and reflected on the emerging global realization that “we are one planet, with one biology,” as Flores succinctly put it.

I won’t attempt to summarize, just to share my own experience and perspectives, in hopes that may contribute something to others.

My mood in this moment is remarkably serene—remarkable given the uncertainty, risk and fundamental contingency we all live in now. (Not that we didn’t always, but that’s another story.) Cultivating mood has been a fundamental part of our group’s work together, and much like cultivating a garden, it is offering a bountiful harvest.

My experiences and reactions to the covid crisis have come in waves. First, coming to terms with the physical risks and challenges: hand washing, extreme sanitation, isolating at home (except for medical appointments and walks in the park), treating our home like a space station with an airlock between us and the outside (and grateful to generous friends who’ve run shuttle missions for us). Second, beginning to grasp the economic impact to the country and the world, and then quite suddenly to our family as we’ve seen income vanish and scrambled to replace it with new ways we can deliver value online, and gain some sustenance from doing so. Third, the grief—the personal, not abstract grief—only landed a few days ago, as my sister suspended the weekly Shabbat dinners our families had shared for more than 30 years. That was the first time my tears flowed, unrestrained.

But, surprisingly, I see powerful openings too. I’m observing: the rapid, if uneven, recognition of our common fate and thus common interest in mutual care; the impressive (and again uneven) ability for humans, and our institutions around the world, to coordinate complex systems and responses; the faint glimmers of solidarity; the striking resonance of the covid-19 infection and mortality curves with the climate crisis GHG emissions and global temperature curves—and the parallel impact of rapid, focused action vs predatory delay.

And I’m observing the emergence of a new inquiry: Since the world will never be the same, since (as Flores suggested) everything may emerge from this crisis reconfigured, what might happen, what might emerge, what possibilities might open if some of us choose to hard-focus right there—on the reconfiguration of everything—while most people and institutions are absorbed in the immediate urgencies before us all, on the pressing needs of the immediate now. What might we be able to imagine, stimulate, provoke, and nurture?

I invite you to explore these possibilities with me. (Perhaps in a series of Zoom calls, perhaps in a shared writing space, perhaps in some other ways you might suggest.)

In solidarity,
Gil

“If the dream comes close to the dreamers, it happens because they have been organizing themselves according to their dreams” ~Paulo Freire

#covid coronavirus #climatecrisis #contingency #cultivation #mood #regeneration #reconfiguration

UPDATE: Please join me on Zoom—Thursday, April 2, 1:00-2:30pm Pacific—to continue this exploration. Register in advance for this meeting. (After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)