Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 6, 2010

Ready for What

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,State and Local HLS,Strategy — by Mark Chubb on October 6, 2010
It Requires Less Thought than Normal Ideas

Source: Andertoons http://andertoons.com/

When emergency managers get together to talk about the state of their profession, the discussion often turns to preparedness, or rather the lack of it. In any conversation about this topic, it usually becomes clear before long that whether or not emergency managers consider their own agencies and partners ready, they almost universally consider the public at-large uninformed about hazards and uninterested in preparing for disasters.

I am sad to say this recurrent theme came through loud and clear when staff from my office assembled at the end of last week for a strategic planning retreat. People in every section echoed concerns that the community takes the threats we face too lightly. They complained that many of those who do recognize the hazards in our environment still rely too heavily on government and NGOs to come to their aid. And, they added, of those few in our community  who do “get it” and give of their time and effort as volunteers in programs like Community Emergency Response Teams, a small number of outsized egos require constant reassurance that their commitment is valued and suck up too much time and energy to make the effort worthwhile.

If you took their assessment at face value, you would have a hard time being hopeful. That is why its so important to listen to more than one side of the story, question your assumptions and the conventional wisdom, and reflect on the things you see and hear without undue regard for the opinions of others.

When I look at the community, I see something very different. People clearly understand that the situation is changing, and have already begun to adapt in ways that would have been unthinkable not so long ago.

When I spoke at a recent community meeting organized by a couple of citizens and attended by about 125 of their neighbors (something interesting and remarkable on its own, I’d say), I asked the crowd a couple of questions. How many people recycled at home? How about composting their food waste? And installing energy efficient lighting? Or adding a little more insulation to their walls or attic? Or bicycling and walking more often for short trips? In each case, an overwhelming majority of those in the room admitted they were engaged in these activities.

Then I asked, “How many of you, to your knowledge, have been personally and directly affected by climate change?” Maybe a quarter of the crowd was brave enough to indicate in the affirmative.

I suggested to them that the reasons so many of them engage in activities to reduce their carbon footprints, like the reasons so many of them attended the meeting that night, was due in part to the expectations that these were the right thing to do. And it helped that others thought so do. In other words, they had reflected on their own situations, the expectations of others and the potential future harm resulting from inaction and decided that they could justify small steps if they might contribute to avoiding some very large, even catastrophic consequences at some point in the future. What’s more, they could justify doing this even if they did not benefit much from their efforts personally. This, they agreed, was probably the case.

It remains to be seen whether individual efforts to reduce carbon footprints can arrest or reverse the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or they effects of escalating concentrations of carbon dioxide and other emissions on ecosystems, but it is clear that these efforts have effects on what others think and do. And these efforts can and do move markets and policymakers.

What’s this have to do with emergency preparedness you ask? Everything.

Emergency managers need to banish the word preparedness from their vocabularies. As an adjective, it conveys the wrong sense of things. As a verb, however, and especially as a transitive verb, preparing conveys specific and meaningful actions on someone’s part for some specific purpose. And it is this sense of purpose and the personalization of intention that make a difference.

Emergency managers, preoccupied as we with the scope and scale or hazards and vulnerabilities and the attendant consequences of not preparing, pay too much attention to the gap and miss altogether the small, simple steps being taken with considerable consistency toward making our communities more resilient. It’s just that many of these actions are informed by a purpose other than preparing ourselves for disasters rather than climate change.

When I look at my own community, I see people investing increasing effort in making their neighborhoods and the city better places to live. And their actions are shaping expectations and decisions in powerful and positive ways.

More people are planting gardens. More people are taking an interest in where and how the food they eat is produced. More people are making purchasing decisions based on the contents rather than the packaging. More people are saving than spending.

Okay, I’ll admit that last one might be a bit problematic at the moment, but the intention clearly reflects a realization that the excesses of the past are no longer sustainable and a new approach is required. The challenge then for emergency managers is not convincing people to do something, it is seeing that the things people are willing to do are small, simple, sensible and socially reinforced.

Preparing communities for disasters could become sexy if we could just settle for evolution rather than revolution. Community resilience should be a question of “ready for what?” rather than a question of “ready or not?”

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19 Comments »

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 2:14 am

Face value. Hurting big. Cover your eyes and get some protection. Road I rode is dangerous. Can’t stop crying and tears on paper.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 4:11 am

Jul 21, 2010 … “Child’s Play.” Gus: After writing poems for stupid girls all my life … He put the fence post down his throat trying to make himself puke? Viceland

Smart girls dig lots of holes and put stupid men in them. When that gets old nuke them in the interest of defence. I still have a couple of vices. Don’t worry about the numbers. Different tools for different works. Quit trying to work the kids to death in Camp Pain Elementary. It’s hard enough getting the adults to do a damn thing all day and they are getting paid. The others are getting jobless benefits for the virtue of being useless and voting. Checkmate. It’s a challenge.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 4:24 am

Victoria-based comedy group LoadingReadyRun will begin their third annual live-streamed Desert Bus for Hope charity video game marathon. Last year’s marathon collected over $70,000, with all proceeds donated to Child’s Play. This year, LoadingReadyRun hopes to raise even more!
Please visit http://www.desertbus.org to learn more about this crazy undertaking.
http://www.childsplaycharity.org/events.php

You always got to raise more…Hell even under the bus is a hell of a ride.

Thanks,
Jim Wolfe and the Cats

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 4:41 am

“For two cents I’d get out there and knock their heads off.” http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/apaine/bl-apaine-mtwain-17.htm

I work cheap. You need any heads knocked off? I am offering volume discounts today. For four cents I can knock their legs off.

Will wait for you,
Jim Wolfe and the Cats

P.S. Stick to your glue business and seal their fate. Stuff falls apart all the time. This should be fun. I mean profit able.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 5:15 am

Is my initiation complete? She’s splendid and I know my place so don’t try putting me there before me. I get a kick out of you, so don’t kick me in the head and think it’ll get you ahead. I’ll keep lone wolfing it and you guys keep chasing pussycat in DC. Most of you couldn’t find a fortune if you had capital and a theatre. Raising the threat level is a good excuse to get paid. They’re all working security and there is no security. Keep y’r mind on y’r own affairs. The 11th commandment.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 8:55 am

Off and running down in the markets. I’m down and out myself. Nobody knows you and that’s safer. Got a 2 cent paper and pliers. Ready 4 the shotgun.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 9:13 am

Off and running down in the markets. I’m down and out myself. Nobody knows you and that’s safer. Got a 2 cent paper and pliers. Ready 4 the shotgun. D-fine W-hat and H-old ON…DWHO looks like a total bust…Dust to dust for dopes…Ready for heavy dollars. All TARP + NO FUN. PIT-D on the road again!

Keep your specs clean and watch for dailycreeps.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 9:20 am

Market just did a dead cat bounce. I got a daredevil plan to blow the entire solar system wide open. It’ll be fun. Wait and sea. Until then keep going Postal.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 9:34 am

EQIX getting hammered. Screw it, I guess and glue it. I need a new nail gun. Compressor old, still works though. Servers are going to be dinosaurs by 4 o’clock.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 9:38 am

Couldn’t of got off ground without aluminum. Buy AA, it is on rise and shine list as opposed to sit and sh…list.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

“Not that I ever really wanted to be a preacher, but because it never occurred to me that a preacher could be damned. It looked like a safe job.” http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/apaine/bl-apaine-mtwain-17.htm

You can’t pray a lie. Morals is manners and if you ain’t got something good to say about somebody, better off not saying anything. An empty tin rattles loudest and protesting a funeral is bad manners. All right then, I’ll go to hell and don’t need no reminding. I reckon I’ll really miss the woman and children folk since they are going the other way. It looks like a safe job and in any case it fits in with the modern trend of avoiding work. Standin around hollerin insults beats digging or picking work and requires no morals or ethic, work or otherwise. Any fool can do it and chances are all fools will meet at the church for their own funeral, protest and take collections. Eat enough mud and drink Mississippi water and you can grow corn in your belly and make a livin moon shinin with the crap that comes out. Eat plenty of fertilizers.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

Outlaw X…Remember back in 1966…I don’t know about you. Kicking up the V on the fuzzbox blue voodoo with lots O watts here. I’m helpless, booked and lawd. Antenna is way UP headed further down the road. Keep my cover rigged. Ready for the blast…In a hot spot!

Needin a serious road trip. Key West, the ultimate deadend. Sayin breakaway…I want my stuff…The deal’s going down. I can’t drive 55, so catch me later. Got one flying on me. Set the bar higher and find a bench. Need some beach. Eat a peach!

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 6, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

Drove months on expired tags. Wonder if we can make Key West on expired tags Team X. It’s worth a shot and I’m having a double. Good night and good luck where ever or what ever you are doin. I ain’t you ans you ain’t me. You got your own trouble with the sweet stuff. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. You find your way. Situational dependent. Broadly independent and broads with pressing concerns are going concerns. We just put it on autopilot and join hands for the spirit in the sky. It’s the right stuff. Just so she’s happy it’s worth the risks. Ready for anything and prepare for everything. It ain’t for everybody. The faint of heart faint and F that and all of that. Failure ain’t an option. Suicide ain’t a solution. Love You, I never change sweetheart. Bailout fail-out. Fallout can be a total loss boss. Better get it while the getting is good for greater good. Talking mannequin fraud ain’t working. What yo going to do?

Heard it on the X. Don’t need to ratchet it up. Need to socket to you. Sleep 3 and up 21 Black Jack. E&P can make you sleep less. Work in it after midnight.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 7, 2010 @ 12:06 am

“It is the easiest thing in the world to die. The hardest is to live.” Eddie Rickenbacher

Aces High. Liquor flowed until dawn. GM was going bust in 1934. Eastern turned a profit from ’35-’60. Disproved the need for federal subsidies. That’s how that works. Now we have more fools fooling themselves. Uncompromising.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 7, 2010 @ 6:42 am

I am sorry History Detective because there is a certain elegance and quality to your post but could you limit them to no more than five at a time for each Post?

Suffering from History Detective overload here.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

October 7, 2010 @ 8:13 am

“What Girls Are Good For” The romance of journalism and good old American spunk. Invent a parlor game and expose injustices. Use your protection and git yo money. Security is real tight and you can dance.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 8:16 am

DIGEST Washington Post – ?6 hours ago?
A man crosses a footbridge over the Marcal, the first river to be hit by the toxic red sludge from an alumina plant in Hungary.

Not hungry for red revolution. Major mental MAL function http://www.mal.hu/Engine.aspx
At least it ain’t a fashion emergency. Wear little tight black dress please.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 8:24 am

Don’t forget black stockings, I like the way the line runs up the back of them. Knock ’em dead girls.

Comment by FUZZBOX BLUE VOODOO DOCTOR

October 8, 2010 @ 8:32 am

Don’t forget the lace blue panties for extra protection. I’m off into the wild blue danger zone and I might not be back. In black we lust and in blue we trust. Keep the faith!

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