Slowing down

“You see growth was my holy grail.

Yes, it was. And it failed.

It couldn’t last, I do agree.

But in the middle of the hustle, you cannot really see.”

Nynke Laverman’s spoken word/song Your Ancestor has really touched me this year.

The same applies to Kim Nicholas’s book Under the Sky We Make.*

For 2023, I wish for us to slow down where we can. The climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and our overall limited progress on the SDGs require a radical re-think of our systems and action. Degrowth within rich countries appears to have strong (and growing 😉 ) potential.  

On a personal level, I cycle everywhere in Melbourne and eat increasingly plant based. In the new year, I want to consider my energy use and how my superannuation is invested. Boat trips from Australia are very clunky (I have looked into it) so I still fly. I combine meetings though and am much, much more selective. I hope you take the actions that feel right for you.**

Of course, it is the big industry actors and government decisions that make a real difference, so it may feel ‘tiny’ to tinker on the individual level. Nevertheless, we have influence: as citizens, consumers, investors, professionals and role models. See also Jan Heilinger’s book on cosmopolitan responsibility for extra motivation.

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We’d rather rely on others to do the hard work

Social capitalIt’s called the collective action problem: we’d rather rely on others to do the hard work.

In a cohesive community however, it is more likely that people will volunteer to become active. The reason? The enforceable trust that comes with the cohesion.

This is important for how you organise your daily working life (make sure your team is cohesive) 🙂 but may also explain why some communities have less trouble than others to overcome disaster experiences. Continue reading

Can we use Facebook to assess mental health needs after a disaster?

facebook disaster mental healthImagine: you have just received a request to assess the mental health needs of the survivors of a large-scale disaster. What are your major challenges: Logistics? Resources? Communication? Getting an overview of who is in the area, who has been assessed, and who still needs to be? And if needs are identified, getting the appropriate services in place?

Probably all of the above. In addition, it may be dangerous to enter the disaster area altogether, for example due to radiation risk.

Therefore, wouldn’t it help if you could conduct needs assessments via social networks like Facebook? If these give the same information as face-to-face interviews that you would conduct otherwise, it would be worthwhile as a low-cost-low-risk approach.

A research team from Israel set out to test whether a Facebook sample and a traditional face-to-face sample would show differences in mental health and disaster-related data after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Continue reading

Helping children after Hurricane Sandy and other disasters

Dr. Betty Lai‘s guestpost on disaster recovery was planned a few weeks ago and couldn’t turn out more timely: Hurricane Sandy has affected many children while ravaging large areas in the Carribean and the US. Betty is a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami

Each year, millions of children are exposed to natural disasters. Many children who experience a natural disaster may report symptoms of posttraumatic stress or depressive symptoms. In a recent study, we examined these symptoms and their comorbidity among 277 children (7 -11 years old) exposed to Hurricane Ike, a destructive natural disaster that hit Galveston, Texas in September 2008. Continue reading

Youth consultation when planning for emergencies

Australia has experienced a number of large disasters in the past few years. Examples are the extensive floods in Queensland in 2011 and the deadly bushfires in 2009. Susan Davie works in government emergency management and is a big advocate for engaging youth in the planning process. She shares her impressions of a pilot youth consultation.

One of the gaps in emergency management (EM) planning in Australia is the lack of consultation with young people. In essence young people do not have a voice, even though there is no doubt that children and young people are affected by disasters and emergency events. They do have specific needs, from child toilets in evacuation facilities to youth-centered psychosocial interventions.

Health and Human Services Emergency Management in Victoria is currently coordinating a project on planning for children and young people in emergency management.[i] As part of this project, we just undertook a pilot youth consultation in the Macedon Ranges Shire, a beautiful area at about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. The local committee was keen to hear the thoughts and ideas of young people and integrate them in their emergency management plans. Continue reading