Thriving in times of disruption

The town of Lockeport is rallying to address the impact of rising sea levels.

The town of Lockeport is rallying to address the impact of rising sea levels.

by Susan Szpakowski

It’s getting harder to walk the line between being positive and being real. Do we have to choose? Is it possible to thrive in the midst of climate and ecological crises? What does thriving even mean in these times?

Images of climate strikes, clogged oceans, lost species, and mass human migrations are all over the news, seeping into our collective consciousness. Few of us dare to look at where it all might be heading.

How can anyone stay sane in these times, let alone thrive? Our tagline—”Let’s come together to create a future that works for all”—is beginning to sound like wishful thinking, even denial. Even in the past year something has shifted, and it’s getting harder to see how our very local, very practical efforts will make a difference, given all the global crises we can’t control.

Or is it?

If you listened in to recent planning conversations, you would overhear comments like these.

  • “We don’t need false hope, but we do need to keep our spirits up. Coming together and staying connected is so important.”

  • “In our communities, it will become even more critical to have places to gather and connect, open our homes to neighbours, break bread and share culture, create networks of care and inclusion. As a region, we already know how do this, as a way of life. It’s in our recent memory, our DNA. We need to tell these stories, bring this knowledge forward.”

  • “More than ever, communities need to be resilient and innovative. As people at the grassroots level take initiative, build trust, and forge new partnerships to address current challenges, they are building their capacity to tackle even bigger challenges in the future. Thrive can collect resources and offer skill-building to support these trends.”

  • “Disruption exposes the underbelly… all the things that have been hidden below the surface—like systemic racism and the impact of our colonial history. Healing our relationships makes us all stronger and lays the ground for co-creating more human-centred and robust systems. Healing begins with acknowledging what’s there, being present to each other. We can do this when we take the time to find our way through.”

  • “We need to get real about our vulnerabilities—food security, energy independence, healthcare, mental health, transportation, affordable housing, the integrity of our land and water. What can we learn from First Nations? What can citizens do? What must governments do? What is the role of a socially and environmentally responsible economy? Let’s make space at Thrive for people working on these issues to find each other and learn together.”

  • “The question isn’t just, how can we thrive in the future? It’s also, how can we thrive right now—in the way we go about our lives and our work? In the way we gather? How can Thrive be enlivening and nourishing, while also engaging difficult questions and challenges like these?”

These are among the conversations that will continue at Thrive. You can take a look at the streams through this lens and share your ideas about the topics and on-the-ground stories you would like to engage with in the break-outs.

In the meantime, we’re still wondering whether we need a new tagline and, if so, what it should be. Suggestions welcome!

Susan SzpakowskiComment