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AfterNow: Preparing for the Possible

March 22, 2018 - March 24, 2018

Bob Stilger will lead this workshop. Bob spent 5 years working with people and communities in Japan after the March 11, 2011 triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear explosions. In 2017 he published AfterNow: When We Cannot See the Future, Where Do We Begin? It is a rich tapestry of stories from the people of Japan about how they are finding where forward is and stepping towards it, Bob’s own story of showing up in disaster, and the tools and processes he used and taught.

Join us at the Whidbey Institute for a deep dive into

Preparing for the Possible

2pm, Thursday March 22 – 2pm, Saturday March 24

Register here

The fires, the fires, they bring it all home.  British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon inundated with smoke and fire for most of the summer and then the devastating fires of northern, then southern, California.

Predictability and certainty are pretty much relics of the past. Many of us have had to drop any pretense of knowing what lies in our future. Speaking of weather and climate disasters alone, 2017 was a record year in the United States, with 16 separate events costing over $1 billion each. There’s clearly a wake-up call here. How do we prepare for the possible before and after disasters?

We don’t need to be fixated on 2017’s cascade of disasters. We don’t need to say it is predictive. But we must notice it. Not only the fires, but the devastating hurricanes in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico and deadly earthquakes in Mexico. Mass murders in Las Vegas, New York, Texas and California. Opioid addiction crisis made visible as well as the long-standing sexual predator behaviors of some men. How might we respond to these crises in a way that makes us and our communities more resilient and able to cope with the rising tide of changes?

At the same time it feels like things are going to hell in a handbasket, we’re making remarkable leaps forward in understanding how our brains work and how social and cultural patterns play out, as well as having seemingly endless advances in technology. What a time to be alive!

Individually-supported $275.00 
Organizationally-supported $350.00


Lodging at the Whidbey Institute $295.00
Commuting from offsite $225.00 includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners
Commuting from offsite, no breakfast $195.00 includes lunches, dinners

Group discount of $25 per registrant when registering three or more people with one transaction. If you need scholarship support in order to participate, please email [email protected] Some support may be available.



  • Is your work with communities to help them prepare for disasters?
  • Do you help people or communities figure out how to be more healthy and resilient?
  • Are you in places where unexpected tragedy has occurred?



What about here in the beautiful Northwest?  How can we support each other, throughout the region, to learn about what’s possible now and to take that learning into action?  What might it look like for our region to become one that’s built true resilience?

What we learn in disaster is that it is all about the social fabric of community that helps people bounce back.  What we learn is disasters crack open the old normal and that space is worked in best if the ground has been prepared before disaster strikes.


  • What else can be done before disasters to prepare for the challenges and opportunities that will arise?
  • How can disaster be a new beginning to co-create the lives and communities we want?



The workshop will also draw heavily on your experience. There’s no template here. No one size fits all. There is knowledge and experience to share. We have stepped into a new normal and we need each other to figure out how to proceed.

These are confusing times. Confusion creates an opening. Let’s step into that opening together. The devastating disasters of 2011 in Japan was overwhelming, disorienting, grief-filled and confusing. It also provoked a collective sense: we have been released from a future we did not want.


Click here for a draft agenda



Impacts from disaster—whether environmental, political, economic—hold within them two distinct time horizons.

Time horizon one: the days just following a shocking event, when day-to-day life is disrupted and many people frequently experience the power of community coming together, being there for one another, facing hard circumstances with one another with integrity, care, and inspiring strength.

And then there is time horizon two: the long period after that window of grace, when exhaustion sinks in, disparate needs clash, and the circumference of care shrinks to “one’s own,” however the definition of one’s own is determined. Grief, shock, and trauma impact our ability to interact with one another, care for ourselves, or build for our future. Without conscious and committed leadership in this time horizon, decay and further deterioration are the norm.

How do we nurture the conditions under which the second time horizon can be a time of uplift, creativity, connection, and building anew? Conditions that engage leadership throughout a community, not setting communities up to rely on hoped-for heroes to come to the rescue?

AfterNow shares principles and approaches for nurturing such conditions, showing what is possible when communities face their hardest moments together, for the long haul. AfterNow shows us that the work of preparing for disaster goes far beyond preparing just for the first time horizon of staying alive after a severe disruption, but working for a future we want to live FOR.

I am grateful for this timely work from Dr. Stilger.

Heather Johnson
Executive Director
Whidbey Institute


March 22, 2018
March 24, 2018
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