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I turn 37 tomorrow...

Tomorrow I turn 37.

And I finally know what e. e. cummings meant when he wrote - I carry your heart in my heart.

I am not young, but not yet old. I am about to be a mother. And I am not afraid. Excited, yes. Uncertain, of course. Anyone who says they aren’t is lying. Through their teeth. But I am strong in my belief, this is a blessed human and we are blessed to be able to raise him. To show him life and experience it through his eyes.

As I type, his tiny feet and hands trace the inside of me. It makes me smile, to understand with new appreciation how capable a body is. I have heard countless times, your body is no longer your own. But as I celebrate my own birth, I must disagree. My body is mine. It belongs to me. It is capable of housing a small human for 40 weeks. But I have gone no where during those weeks. And I will remain, though not unchanged, as my body births what it has taken nine months to grow.

Of all birthday’s this is the most special. I will never again be able to repeat the gestation of this boy and for that I know exactly why I carry his heart deeply embedded in my own.

To 36, thank you for changing me in ways I do not yet know.

And to 37, thank you for welcoming me into a new sisterhood, a new experience and a deep, abiding love.

Alicia JohnsonComment
Economics & Empathy - Disaster Recovery

I've been infatuated with disaster recovery for quite some time. I've spoken to numerous survivors - gathering their stories in part with the Field Innovation Team. I've spoken with responders, contractors and funding agencies. I've analyzed the nature of neighborhood and whole community recovery through numerous events. I've even presented to gatherings of fellow emergency managers on building resilience that may lead to a more rapid recovery.

And I've noticed something - recovery, the successful kind, is an artful blend of economics and empathy.

Yes, a community needs financial support, information and an opportunity to meet their fundamental survival needs. But beyond that, in order to engage their own resilience, a community struck by disaster needs empathy. An understanding that, growth, safety and trust begins when, and only when, an ability to comprehend their own needs and a willingness to meet them exists.

Governments long to build resilience, to listen to community, to support and grow community capacity to meet their own needs. But I've yet to see a successful example of that philosophy instigated in a community. Government rarely listens and even more rarely asks communities to share what recovery means to them. We have a tendency to send the well-meaning among us out to communities to gather information, but those representatives are under-equipped and often speak more than they listen to those they aim to support.

Emergency Managers say - the goal of recovery is to "build it back, better" but what does that mean to the communities which they serve? Better means something different to every neighborhood, business district and non-governmental support capability. The under-served in one neighborhood will respond differently to disaster than a similar, but different neighborhood, despite having similar capacity to withstand trauma. No two people and thus no two neighborhoods are the same. Therefore, the very nature of recovery must be sought from those directly impacted by the decisions made on their behalf. 

It must be sought in empathetic, systematic, deliberate ways. By humans (and technology) eager to learn and less eager to disseminate the "solutions" their employers offer. A story must be shared and equally told by connecting with the needs, capabilities and desires of a community to build their own future.

For it is their future that will rebuild our community.

Limited Edition Prints Available

I've taken five of my favorite 100 Days of Civic Valley images and made them available for limited edition purchase.

Here are the details -

  • 10 prints of each image are available
  • Prints are archival quality, giclee prints and measure 16 x 16
  • Frames are not available at this time

In the near future I'd like to create a book of this project - those who purchase prints will get first dibs on that opportunity. If you know of a photo from the 100 Days of Civic Valley project that you can't live without - let me know - I'm happy to make something special just for you!

Alicia JohnsonComment