Powerful Questions for Use in Katrina D&D Inquiries
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:35 pm?? ?Post subject: Powerful Questions for Use in Katrina D&D Inquiries Reply with quote??? ???

This topic is to keep track of the various powerful EXPLORATORY questions being used -- or proposed -- to help various people and groups explore various aspects of the Katrina crisis. Anyone may post questions being used by others, or questions they think should be used. [/b]
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tomatlee

Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:40 pm?? ?Post subject: Questions for the D&D movement (networks, leaders, etc.) Reply with quote??? ???

1. As we face the enormity of Katrina's impact on American society, what can we do better together than we can apart?

2. What about this crisis makes it especially compelling to work with? What special promise or possibilities does it hold?

3. Considering our common skills, knowledge, and resources, how might we best use the opportunities of this moment to serve
* the immediate obvious needs of people involved in this crisis?
* the mid-term needs of affected communities?
* the long-term vitality of humanity and life on Earth?

4. What is the best thing that could happen to the dialogue and deliberation field (or movement) as a result of this crisis?

FOR THOUGHT LEADERS

5. As thought leaders, what are the implications of Katrina for the community of D&D practitioners?

6. What can we learn about the meme of mobilizing local conversations everywhere so that we are better equipped to engage the remarkable practitioner networks the next time a crisis calls for our skills?
_________________
Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute
co-intelligence.org, taoofdemocracy.com
The Tao of Democracy
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tomatlee

Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:50 pm?? ?Post subject: Useful appreciative questions to focus energy and action Reply with quote??? ???

These questions were created by Peggy Holman with input from others.

‚?€Ę What is the most useful action I/we can take in this moment?

‚?€Ę What are the best things that are happening and how can I/we support them?

‚?€Ę What has this disaster shown us about the resources we have available in our society?

‚?€Ę Where has wise conversation, wise action shown up? How do we expand on the best of what's happened?

‚?€Ę How do we expand our insight, our vision of who we are and can be as a society so that we are as equipped as possible for the future?
_________________
Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute
co-intelligence.org, taoofdemocracy.com
The Tao of Democracy


Last edited by tomatlee on Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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tomatlee

Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:56 pm?? ?Post subject: Questions for Dialogue about the Katrina Crisis Reply with quote??? ???

These are based on questions created during the 9-11 crisis, associated with an article entitled "What should we do in this crisis?" http://co-intelligence.org/CIPol_911howrespond.html which is largely applicable to today's crisis as well. You can pick a few to use in your living room, office or cafe.

Who do you know that was directly effected by this? What is your relationship to those people? How has their story affected you?
What was done -- and not done -- in the past that contributed to this being the catastrophe it is?
Where else are these things being done -- or not done -- that may contribute to catastrophes in the future?
What response to this crisis would move us to a world in which this kind of thing wouldn't occur?
To what extent do you trust what the government and/or media has been saying about this?
What do you think would have been different in how the Katrina disaster unfolded if the people trapped in and around New Orleans had been mostly white and middle-class or rich?
What inspires or excites you about the responses you've seen to this crisis?
How can the media be most helpful in these times?
What constitutes real safety and security?
What is the worst response we could have in this crisis?
How do we deal with personal and communal suffering?
What ways of dealing with our emotions serve us or make things worse?
What can we learn from this? What are the most important lessons?
What is the place of anger and blame in this situation? How do these serve or limit us?
What are you feeling in your body right now?
What good could come of all this?
What are you most scared of right now?
What is most important to you right now?
What would be the advantages or disadvantages of waiting until all the evidence is in before deciding how to respond?
How does our society deal with trauma? What would help our society deal better with trauma?
What do we need our leaders to do? To what extent are they doing that?
How can we effectively communicate with our leaders?
What would we be feeling if a Democratic president and congress were in office?
To what extent are we responding in automatic ways or in conscious, creative ways? How do we feel about that?
What outcomes of this could make you feel it has been worth it?
What is the relationship between business as usual and crises like this?
If you were the ruler of the world, how would you handle this problem?
What does this mean for our everyday lives?
What can one person do about this? What can people do together?
What changes in the system would help us?
How should we talk with children about this?
What responses to this have you heard that upset you or inspired you? --Where do you think those perspectives come from?
What does all this mean about our future?
What does this mean about who we are as human beings?
What does this mean about who we are as a society?
What can I learn from people who don't see this the way I do?
To what extent does this increase our compassion for (and attention to) suffering in other countries?
What are the conditions under which we can have a sane and healing conversations about crises like this that actually produce a difference in the world?
What other questions need to be asked?
What would have to happen for people's responses to these questions to make a real difference in the world?
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Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute
co-intelligence.org, taoofdemocracy.com
The Tao of Democracy
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Leah Lamb

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:26 am?? ?Post subject: Implications Reply with quote??? ???

The following post was made by Steve Mantz on the NCDD Listserv:

What are the implications of what happened in the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina?

Steve Mantz

Leah Lamb
NCDD Listserv Moderator
Berkeley, CA
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Stevem123

Joined: 11 Sep 2005
Posts: 17
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:16 am?? ?Post subject: Hurricane relief efforts; some thoughts Reply with quote??? ???

Hi everyone. I have been reading the NCDD forums on Hurricane Katrina, and I wanted to mention just a few things which occurred to me.

This situation has had a major effect on Americans' awareness of our society's needs, and on the importance we attach to finding ways to act as a community. And I was wondering whether this might be something which the deliberative community could participate in and contribute to, by offering new ways to examine these issues, and to find solutions together.

The crisis which we just saw was beyond anything we could have imagined. There were problems and challenges which none of us could ever have pictured before.

Yet I was also very moved to see how much ordinary people and communities found ways to respond at times like this. In dozens of ways, people found ways to provide resources, and to make a difference. They created resources in their neighborhoods, on the internet, by word of mouth, and many other means.

And through all this, a new fact emerged. People now have a new awareness of the importance of community activism, and of connecting to their neighbors. The reality of this situation has conveyed this in a very clear way. And I wonder whether this might be something the deliberative community can contribute to and participate in.

People have begun to realize the importance of understanding the real strengths of their communities, and of their ability to meet societal needs. And I believe they will eventually reach a new awareness of the need to address certain questions and priorities which face our society as a whole. There are questions which have gone unanswered, and vital priorities which have been neglected for much too long.

Our budget is currently in massive deficit. People are beginning to realize just how important this is. How does this affect our ability to meet our society's needs? What are we prepared to do, and to give up, in order to address this issue?

This seems doubly important right now, because up to now there was some question over Americans' readiness to sacrifice on behalf of others. Were civic ideals still viable in this country? Were people ready to respond to the needs of their community? Or were they too insulated by the modern barrage of mass media, and too accustomed to the comforts of life?

Well, now we know the answer to that. Of course people care about their communities, and of course they are willing to give up things, and to spend additional effort, to meet the needs of their society as a whole. And, in a larger sense, of course they would be willing to work hard, and to forgo certain things, in order to preserve our society's economic strength, and to pass on a better country to the next generation.

People are more than willing to work together, and to give up things to do and do what it takes. The problem is that no one has given them a real plan up to now for doing so.

Our society currently has major priorities going unaddressed. Our domestic industries are in decline. Our budget is in sizable deficit. Our economy depends on massive funding from overseas. We have vital industrial sectors which are in need of strengthening or development, in order to face the continuing process of displacement by other countries.

How will we handle this? What are our natural strengths, and where are the resources to address them? What's most disturbing about all this is not any specific one issue itself; what seems more disturbing is the apparent lack of any general process for handling these issues overall, or indeed of any viable process for engendering real discussion of how these issues affect us, and how to address them.

Our political discourse is in a state of apparent dysfunction. Our political parties seem to fight over which ideological issue or partisan slogan can get people the most worked-up, or which faction can get their supporters out in the biggest droves. Almost no one talks about the simple questions of how to address certain concerns, such how to run the economy, or how to define our goals, and the resources to reach them.

I'd like to think that one simple effect of what's going on now is that people will start to ask how things are really going, and what can be done to improve them.

This process has already started, and there are already the groups and resources to make it happen. The trick is to get them out of the abstract realm, and into people's minds and living rooms, in order to allow them to truly have an effect.

In that light, I'd like to think that deliberation can begin to play a bigger role in people's lives, and in the life of the country. Where did people go for news? The internet. Where did they go to spread information about resources? The internet. Where did people go when they suddenly had to evacuate, or to find a new place to live? A cot in somebody's basement.

I am not trying to be glib here. I am trying to make a point. There is a direct and concrete parallel between what just happened in neighborhoods and communities around the country, and what is happening in the country overall.

People are starting to realize the importance of getting involved. People are starting to realize that all this matters. People are realizing they had better start making some decisions real quick, if they want to hand over a country which is a little better than the one they started with.

And people are starting to realize the utter inadequacy of a political system which endlessly wrangles over how many mistakes which the other side has made, or which never seems to get around to the trivial topics of how to actually manage the country, or how to preserve and strengthen our economy, or how to improve the opportunities and quality-of-life which we are handing over to the next generations.

People are going to start looking for answers, and for ways to get involved. And when they do, I hope that the deliberative community will be right there to give it to them, or at least to give them some ways to start looking for some good answers, and for some ways to make their actions truly matter.

I hope this sounds good to you, and I hope to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to email any comments you might have, on any way in which this might affect you. I look forward to discussing this further at some point. Thanks very much.

Steve
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George P
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:02 pm?? ?Post subject: The main question Reply with quote??? ???

There seems to me to be only one question. What role can deliberation play in articulating, discussing, and examining the new priorities which people currently care about, in the wake of the events of the hurricane relief efforts? Thank you.
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Sandy

Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:19 pm?? ?Post subject: Suggested Questions for Dialogue from PCP Reply with quote??? ???

Suggested Questions for Dialogue from PCP

From the Public Conversation Project‚?€?™s website, at http://www.publicconversations.org/pcp/index.asp?page_id=266&catid=68

To support widespread reflection and discussion, the Public Conversations Project has developed a new set of questions that can be used in conjunction with their dialogue guide. They hope these questions might prove helpful for people who want to facilitate dialogues in their communities and organizations as one response to the hurricane and its aftermath.

PCP‚?€?™s step-by-step guide to organizing and facilitating dialogues is available at no cost online at http://conversations.forms.soceco.org/48/. The questions below can be inserted into page 21 of the guide.

Questions include:

1. How are you touched by what's happened?

2. In what ways are you responding?

3. What do you wish had been done or not done before, during, and after the hurricane and flooding?

4. What do you hope will be done now?

5. What opportunities for larger-scale change do you see in the ways we respond to this tragedy? What perils must be avoided?

6. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina revealed many fault lines, largely of class and race, within affected areas. In what ways can post-Katrina lessons be useful to your community?
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Sandy Heierbacher
Convenor, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)
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leilani henry
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 3:48 pm?? ?Post subject: questions surrounding katrina Reply with quote??? ???

Greetings,

I am wondering what questions folks are living with now, as practitioners and strategists in the D & D field. I personally have landed with the question What is tolerance? How can true tolerance be inclusive of intolerance? The college campuses I am working with are seeing an increase of the lack of tolerance and we are having a 'diversity' dialogue series of which tolerance is one topic.

any comments on tolerance or other questions are welcome, thanks!
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Sandy

Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 149
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:43 pm?? ?Post subject: My question... Reply with quote??? ???

Thanks for that great question, Leilani, and for opening the floor for other questions.

The question that Katrina has left me with is "how can we mobilize the dialogue & deliberation community quickly and efficiently when we're needed?"

To do this, I think two things need to happen. We need to increase awareness about how D&D can help resolve conflicts, promote healing, lead to better decisions, and inspire effective collaborative action. And we need to create the infrastructure that's needed to quickly connect those with D&D expertise with those who can benefit from D&D.
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Sandy Heierbacher
Convenor, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)
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tomatlee

Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:42 am?? ?Post subject: Framing "Rebuilding New Orleans" for Deliberation Reply with quote??? ???

(These aren't questions, per se, but are options for New Orleans that can be discussed in a deliberative setting, and seemed to fit more in this forum category than in others. -- Tom)

Diverse futures for New Orleans and the Gulf coast countryside are surfacing in private and public debate.

A co-intelligent society would explore all these futures, gathering arguments and evidence for and against the major scenarios, considering the values motivating each one, and the challenges each faces.

Ordinary citizens and stakeholders would be engaged in weighing this information, questioning experts, and creating together approaches that made sense to the vast majority of them. Usually such approaches would be creative combinations of elements from diverse scenarios, often with novel elements or perspectives not found in any of the scenarios -- "aha!" realizations which sparked real shared excitement.

Can we help the United States evolving society to move beyond debate, back room deals, and political power stuggles into shared exploration and collective intelligence? Conditions are obviously not ripe to have co-intelligent processes decide the outcome, but they are very ripe for experimenting with such processes and promoting the results. That will cultivate public consciousness for further steps towards co-intelligence when the next catastrophe strikes.

Organizations like the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums could sponsor local citizen deliberations by preparing materials about diverse approaches to rebuilding and protecting New Orleans and the surrounding area, and making them broadly available.

Here is an example of five different approaches to rebuilding New Orleans. I have heard all of these proposed by various parties in the news and on the Web.

RIGHT OF RETURN - Encourage those who left to return and provide support for them to start over, enabling a rebirth of the old New Orleans, but with better protective engineering.

PARTICIPATORY DEVELOPMENT - Help former residents who want to return -- along with incoming community pioneers -- to work together envisioning and developing New Orleans in ways that appeal to all stakeholders and citizens.

GOOD FOR BUSINESS - Redevelop New Orleans with all the trappings of its historic culture but without the poverty, centered on businesses that can provide a thriving economy.

ECO-EXPERIMENT - Use New Orleans' vulnerability as an inspiration for building an innovative sustainable city more in tune with the natural realities of its place, such that it can serve as an inspiration for all other coastal cities facing the challenges of climate change.

RETURN TO NATURE - Face the hard facts of climate change and develop only those sections of New Orleans unlikely to be devastated by the rising seas and violent weather expected in this century.

What would be needed next is to gather the arguments for and against each of these, formulate them into accessible briefing books, and encourage networks of community groups, schools, religious congregations, and other organizations to sponsor dialogues and deliberations using those briefing materials.
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Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute
co-intelligence.org, taoofdemocracy.com
The Tao of Democracy
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:02 am?? ?Post subject: Answers to Some of the NCDD Questions on D&D in Disaster Reply with quote??? ???

Responses by Ed Jewett (XLr8tor)

These are written in late February of 2006, post 9/11 by a long shot, and post Katrina by months, and pre-pandemic (if, indeed, we are going to have one), and apply equally to all three, or any other major event. A fourth scenario for your contemplation is a major earthquake on the West Coast. .

As we face the enormity of Katrina's impact on American society, what can we do better together than we can apart?

Clearly one of the things that we can do better is to invite, invest in and subscribe to the ideas, tools and techniques from other worlds. My recent paper builds on a long-standing interest in military strategy and tactics (a curious one, given that I am a pacifist), and the tools and techniques of simulation training adopted by them. Another area of rich military-funded research is into situation awareness and decision-making under stress. Equally, we can borrow on some of the tools of business and commerce, and other fields. What this is about is essentially learning how things work, especially in complex events over space and time. And it‚?€?™s about how to make them work better‚?€¶ or at least understand how our ‚?€?œinputs‚?€? into complex systems alter them. Equally, we can begin to learn something about how the human mind perceives, how it functions under stress, etc., or a range of ‚?€?œresults‚?€? from about 15 years of recent intense research into the cognitive sciences. We‚?€?™re probably in agreement that the broader the conversation, and to the degree that it is effectively managed and facilitated, the more likely the results are better. In disaster response (my particular focal area), one of the very necessary issues is for each of us to understand the other‚?€?™s role, perspective, function, approach, mindset, intent, etc. so that we can better collaborate in the heat of the crisis.

What about this crisis makes it especially compelling to work with? What special promise or possibilities does it hold?

I‚?€?™ll look at the three events I described above. The first thing we need to understand about all of them is that they are extraordinary, they are unique, and they have powerful psycho-social implications. The second thing we need to think about in events like these is that they have definite space/time characteristics. The third thing is that they involve multiple organizations, jurisdictions, disciplines and networks.

The compelling nature is obvious: death and destruction, tremendous human impact, and tremendous impact on community in multiple senses of that word. The response is also about community, or people.

What special promise or possibilities are here for us? Let‚?€?™s look at time factors or, simply said, before, during and after. After is about recovery and reconstruction and rebuilding. During is about full crisis mode in a chaotic and dynamic event.

After holds lots of possibilities, and I won‚?€?™t focus on these at the moment. Some of the threads about Katrina have done that. There‚?€?™s a lot to talk about there alone, but I think there‚?€?™s more promise elsewhere.

I want to caution you broadly & gently about during. ‚?€?œDysfunctional mass convergence‚?€? is the $5 phrase used in the profession to describe the onrush of help into a chaotic disaster zone. Simply said, it creates more problems than it solves. We can look at this in detail if you‚?€?™d like. The best way for me to put this is as follows: If you don‚?€?™t have a prior relationship, recognition and role with or from within a formal response agency, and you aren‚?€?™t specifically invited or requested, you don‚?€?™t belong there.

Before is where the chief promise and possibility exists. Here we can talk at length. Preparation and mitigation are key elements. And there is tremendous need for effective D&D here at many levels, in many ways. The bulk of our discussion could focus right here, and I‚?€?™ll have to return to it in detail at a later time. Right now, I want to focus you briefly on what is known within the industry as the prodromal period‚?€¶ or that period of time that exists between warning and impact. In 9/11, it could be said there was no prodrome (I could mount a counter-argument, but I won‚?€?™t bore you with it). The events were upon us before we could reasonably prepare. In the flu pandemic, the prodrome period is on us now‚?€¶ and will really start when the WHO phase clock clicks over to its next level‚?€¶when there is proven human-to-human transmission of the virus. Should that occur, the prodrome period for the continental United States will be about 2 or 3 weeks before the first wave of contagion washes through. In Katrina, the prodrome period was effectively 36 hours; though we all watched it march slowly across the Gulf, the professionals at NOAA and elsewhere broadcast their prediction of magnitude and impact point 36 hours before the actual impact. In New Orleans, there was an extensive process headed up by an independent consultant agency, based partly on sophisticated computer simulation modeling, that brought in up to 400 people involved in developing a ‚?€?œplan‚?€?. Many of these people understood that the best expenditure of funds would have been to shore up the levees, and applications were made for same, but refused. I appreciate that this is 20/20 hindsight to some degree, but D&D skills in this setting might have leveraged sufficient awareness, attention, political pressure or other solutions that would have resolved this and other issues and debates.

In that 36-hour period, or whatever prodrome may exist for any event, there is a huge opportunity for D&D experts to guide a serious, reasoned discussion among many of the impact community‚?€?™s leaders, including political, systemic or agency-based, as well as social and population based. Such a discussion need be quick. Such a discussion should ideally be a review of previous discussions, updating as necessary with known facts and predictions. Such a discussion should or could occur within or around a tabletop exercise or other simulation (but it need not involve a simulation). Such a discussion should, in some ways, be an ongoing discussion within each community. (This is the theme/focus of my white paper, found at http://www.iaem.com/documents/SimsandVCOPs.pdf. )


Considering our common skills, knowledge, and resources, how might we best use the opportunities of this moment to serve
* the immediate obvious needs of people involved in this crisis?
* the mid-term needs of affected communities?
* the long-term vitality of humanity and life on Earth?


This is addressed to some extent above‚?€¶ The immediate and obvious needs should be attended to by the many response agencies involved. Coordination and planning can use D&D skills. But actual response isn‚?€?™t a time for dialogue and deliberation; it‚?€?™s a time for gut-level, learned, trained response. Yes, there is always room for and need for effective improvisation, but such can be likened to jazz players who‚?€?™ve spent years learning a baseline on which to improvise. Your time and effort is best spent teaching people during the planning and preparation phases how to coordinate effectively in the moment of crisis through effective communication and more.

The mid-term needs are another matter. Certainly D&D skills can be used effectively in a way that enables people and communities to survey and assess effectively, and to address those needs creatively. Again, there‚?€?™s a lot here I‚?€?™ll hold off on discussing.

The long-term issues‚?€¶ ah, here we are at the real meat of the matter‚?€¶ here we get to talk about mitigation, prevention, lessening of impact, etc. At the heart of this, we must enter into a realistic appraisal of both risk and consequence management, probability versus expense, etc. This really gets to civic governance and democratic input. In New Orleans, the issue could and was framed as ‚?€?œterrorism‚?€? versus levee repair. Even a modicum of D&D skills could have helped re-frame the situation with more clarity.


What is the best thing that could happen to the dialogue and deliberation field (or movement) as a result of this crisis?

I think it may be happening‚?€¶ One of the things that I appreciate that many of you already understand intuitively is that, when a system or community is in crisis, its strengths and weaknesses are all on display. Post-impact, there is an obvious opportunity to ask ‚?€?œWhat went wrong?‚?€? and ‚?€?œWhat can be improved?‚?€? Equally it can be said that severe impact of this nature stresses a system to the max, and if a system can learn how best to deal with such stressors, it can handle smaller issues with greater aplomb.

Another area of work for D&D folks, whether working as a consultant, or in op-ed pieces or letters to the editor, is to untangle the ‚?€?œblame game‚?€? that goes on afterwards.

Another area of great import is helping people better understand cause-and-effect in a complex, chaotic, and extraordinarily unique event. This might be construed as systems thinking. Obviously, there are also opportunities to create better ‚?€?œvision‚?€? or ‚?€?œintent‚?€?.


What is the most useful action I/we can take in this moment?

‚?€Ę What are the best things that are happening and how can I/we support them?

‚?€Ę What has this disaster shown us about the resources we have available in our society?

‚?€Ę Where has wise conversation, wise action shown up? How do we expand on the best of what's happened?


As noted, perhaps the best response in the moment is no response, but simply observation, note-taking, Q&A in some format, interviews, etc. One of the elements of disaster preparedness and response that desperately needs professional input from this community is the function known variably as AAR‚?€?™s (after-action reviews) or debriefs, whether of an exercise, a simulation, or a real event. As humans playing specific roles in a fixed time and place, we do not see everything, and cannot see everything. We who are ‚?€?œin the arena‚?€? of the disaster cannot understand what happened over there, and why, because we were absorbed over here. In addition, we have tremendous ‚?€?œblinders‚?€? or filters of mind, of experience, of training and policy, of ego, of rank, of departmental or sub-cultural pride, of ‚?€?œturf‚?€?, etc. We need professional facilitation in order to better understand what occurred, what we perceive about what occurred, etc. One of the more outstanding books you might consider reading about this is American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center by William Langewiesche, North Point Press/Farrar. Straus and Giroux, New York 2002. (I have 14 pages of excerpts in MS Word format if you‚?€?™d prefer.)

I like the latter two questions, but I won‚?€?™t offer up answers. One of the key findings in the disaster research business is referred to as ‚?€?œemergent properties‚?€?‚?€¶ the nature of human response in a way that crafts an effective solution on the spot. Such occurs regularly, is unpredictable, isn‚?€?™t planned or planned for, and yet human intuition, command and leadership skills, and caring rise to the occasion.

In short summary, before I move on to other questions, the local D&D practitioner can find opportunity by scanning their environment for key agencies involved in emergency management and response (especially professional consultants), by seeking to participate in their table-top exercises and drills, and perhaps by crafting or hosting some kind of event for their local response agencies. In a longer run, I think there are opportunities in working with one or more of the many academic centers in this field, or state agencies, or associations.


Who do you know that was directly effected by this? What is your relationship to those people? How has their story affected you?

I will divert here and tell a personal story. Over the summer of 2001, I was updating yet again a major proposal I‚?€?™d been shopping around to anyone and everyone about using simulations for accelerated training. On 9/10/01, I mailed a copy of it to VP Cheney. Every White House administration has received it since Bush 41. I‚?€?™d been reading the newspapers and tuning in to the increasing drumbeat of a forthcoming ‚?€?œevent‚?€?, and my nerves were on edge. On Monday night, 9/10/01, I sent an e-mail to my daughter, then a graduate student at Adelphi and asst. softball coach at St.John‚?€?™s, both on Long Island; in it were the lyrics to that old jazz standard For All We Know (we may never meet again). I had every reason to believe the chosen target would be NYC. In the morning, I awoke about 8:30 and came downstairs in my robe with a cup of coffee and snapped on the PC and went online. Almost instantaneously, an e-mail arrived from my daughter‚?€¶ ‚?€?œDad, they‚?€?™ve done it again‚?€?‚?€¶ the first news I‚?€?™d had. Like the rest of the world, I immediately ran to turn on CNN.


What was done -- and not done -- in the past that contributed to this being the catastrophe it is? Where else are these things being done -- or not done -- that may contribute to catastrophes in the future? What response to this crisis would move us to a world in which this kind of thing wouldn't occur?

Huge questions‚?€¶. Lots of time could be spent here. I won‚?€?™t answer in depth except to re-affirm that this is all about risk management‚?€¶ and gets very political and very local. And it‚?€?™s also about empowerment, and intent, and vision.


To what extent do you trust what the government and/or media has been saying about this? How can the media be most helpful in these times?

The media almost always gets it wrong. Indeed, the media (especially TV) seems to be the antithesis of dialogue and deliberation. Modern day TV news is about sound bites and 30 seconds of dramatic visuals‚?€¶ Indeed, the media can actually exacerbate and worsen the problem by broadcasting unthinking appeals for help, thus creating or lending to ‚?€?œdysfunctional mass convergence‚?€?. Indeed, the TV lens is known for its distortional characteristics. Here‚?€?™s a quote from my paper, the bulk of which is taken from the very important work of Patrick Lagadec, Understanding the French 2003 Heat Wave Expereince: Beyond the heat, a Multi-Layered Challenge:

Finally, of course, the disaster response organizations and networks get to deal with the public, and talk to them. But ‚?€?œ‚?€¶ decision-makers have lost their monopoly on public information and communication: in fact, the public is kept permanently informed through a myriad of sources, and is especially made aware of the most dramatic possibilities; this is all the more problematic as experts are now unable to provide decision-makers with such undisputed bold data that would help them "reassure" the public and dismissed criticisms‚?€¶. Numerous books and checklists have been published to clarify the basic rules of "successful crisis communication". Their advice is certainly valuable, but far from sufficient. In emerging crises, something akin to the "Larson effect" becomes immediately prevalent: each and every "noise", i.e. item of information, is "recycled" in real-time, and stretched to the limit. Very rapidly, a mingled bulk of confusing data emerges in the media, combining real facts, false impressions, hypotheses, plausible developments, improbable -- but not impossible -- scenarios, political rifts, public anxiety, plain lies etc., a medley which is all the more inexplicable as each media outlet recycles the stories of its competitors and echoes (and distorts) the reactions which its own stories provoke -- at the highest speed, and internationally.‚?€?

So the media have to be involved in planning, drills, exercises and AAR‚?€?™s too‚?€¶ and they have to be facilitated. In the end, they must be responsible and accountable members of the community.


What would be the advantages or disadvantages of waiting until all the evidence is in before deciding how to respond?

I‚?€?™m not sure what the focus of this question was‚?€¶ but certainly in terms of direct response, waiting is critical. Now that sounds like it is in direct opposition to the goal, and many in the response agencies would agree with you‚?€¶ their very culture and identity is bound up in rapid response. But this runs in direct opposition to the goals and objectives in an extra-ordinary event. Here‚?€?™s a quote from my proposal of decades ago:

‚?€?œThere is often a stated or unstated pressure by public safety officials to restore the scene to normalcy more rapidly‚?€¶, and ‚?€¶ the pressure if often a direct command. The perceptions of citizen onlookers, the press and many public safety officials is that [speed is of the essence]. This tendency toward action prevents the required tactics of a pause, a stepping back for assessment, of the mental expansion of time and compression of distance, in order to ascertain certain information, to communicate effectively, and to improve command and coordination. ‚?€?œIt is far more important in a disaster to obtain valid information as to what is happening than it is to take immediate actions. Reacting to the immediate situation may seem the most natural and human thing to do, but it is rarely the most efficient and effective response. The immediate situation is seldom that important both as to short-run and long-run consequences.‚?€? [E. L. Quarantelli, Ten Research-Derived Principles of Disaster Planning, Disaster Management 2 (January-March 1982): 23-25.]

This is also consistent with recent research in the fields of psycho-neurology, and the role of the brain‚?€?™s amygdala in monitoring and enabling our ‚?€?œfight-or-flight‚?€? response. The amygdala is essentially a neuronal shortcut that is used when the brain perceives danger; it bypasses the circuitry of the slower, thinking brain entirely and works strictly on emotion, triggering potentially life-saving blood flow to the heart and large muscles, and raising our stress levels and blood pressure. In doing so, however, it also shuts down our broader peripheral view and the opportunity to engage in thoughtful consideration about options. When you see a snake, you don‚?€?™t stop to consider that it might be a garden hose. When you act under stress and emotion, you close down creativity. The amygdala wants your world to run on routine, not change. It relentlessly urges you to favor the familiar and the routine. It craves control and safety which, at times, is admittedly vital. Yet the amygdala's instincts, evolved over tens of thousands of years, spill over into every aspect of our lives and promote a perpetual reluctance to embrace anything that involves risk, change or growth. Your amygdala wants you to be what you have been and to stay the way you are. Unless you override this tendency, you're consigned to repeating the past. Pausing, preferably with one to three deep abdominal breaths, shuts down your ‚?€?œflight-or-fight‚?€? mechanism and allows you to see not only the threat, but the opportunity.
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