“Part of the Whidbey Institute’s path is to help people find their own authentic center point, the place in themselves where they are able to be at ease, to be resilient, to be flexible, and to be at peace.” —Joel Shrut

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Disaster as a Springboard for Building Resilient Communities 2015 Workshop

May 15, 2015 - May 17, 2015

Offered by New Stories and the Whidbey Institute, with Bob Stilger and Michael Jones
Program runs from Friday, May 15, at 4pm through Sunday, May 17, at 11am



Stepping into the Unexpected


IMG_7117What do we do when things fall apart?  Can we grab this as an opportunity to build the lives and communities we actually want?

Job loss?  Hurricane?  Mud slides?  Death of a partner? Tsunami?  As poet Gerard De Nerval once wrote, “When you gather to plan, the universe is not there.”  How do we go beyond planning?  How do we step into the unexpected? How to we find our way forward when the lives we have known disappear?

In this workshop we will explore what we do to put our lives together after the unimaginable has happened. The unimaginable is happening just about every day now – do we have to wait to step into the lives we want? Is it possible that through crisis we are reminded that to be effective leaders we need to be leaders to ourselves first? How would this help us avoid consuming our energy in the busyness of the everyday and instead take time for our own regeneration and renewal so that we have the reserves to absorb the shocks that that come from the unexpected? And how could we see our communities as a complex commons composed of many interconnected roots systems to which we can invest our collective capacities in order for new forms and possibilities to take root and grow.



IMG_76781. Do you work with people and communities that have been traumatized by disaster?

You’ll be familiar with the three phases of disaster—emergency or stabilizing; building resilience to respond to what’s happened; and the long road of transformation. When things fall apart—a mud slide, violence in schools, an emotional upheaval—a new space is opened. There can be enormous pressure to return to the old normal, even if we didn’t like the old normal. Often, the long road of transformation becomes the regression back to what was. How do we hold space open to begin to generate new possibilities?

2. Are you a young person, or someone who works with youth and young adults?

Folks in their late teens through early thirties face massive questions about what to do with their lives. There is a way forward. We turn to each other and into fields of deep authentic inquiry combined with the energy of rapid experimentation and prototyping to find our next steps and the next. Finding what’s yours to do in the world is a combination of discerning what it is you will stand up for and who it is you will stand with. It is learning how to individuate and claim your work and learning how to reach out and find those who will journey with you.

3. Are you an instigator of innovation?

You might be in business or government or a non-profit or a community based organization. What is it you are trying to create? What’s the challenge or the opportunity that has your name? How do you begin to discover how to give shape and life to that which is growing inside of you and how do you do it in the company of others? How can you use the many things falling apart around us as springboards for creating the new?

Learning from Japan’s Triple Disaster


shrineOn March 11, 2011 the northeast coast of Japan – the Tohoku Region – was first hit with a huge 9.0 magnitude earthquake.  Forty-five minutes later a tsunami with waves over 50 feet and traveling more than 50 miles an hour decimated the coastal area.  The next day the reactors at Fukushima began to explode.  More than a half million people were left without homes or jobs or both.

Bob has worked in the disaster area for four years.  He has helped people come together to speak the truth and listen to each other and find their way forward.  It has been a winding path and now, still, the old normal is gone and a new normal is elusive.

The workshop draws on Bob’s work in Japan’s Triple Disaster and Michael’s work with beauty and re-imagining the Soul of Place.  The workshop will also draw on Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter and Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects.

Bob and Michael will lead us in an exploration what can happen in the huge open spaces disaster creates. About Bob Stilger; about Michael Jones.


Header photo by William Veerbeek—Tsunami Victims memorial, Ishinomaki / JP, 2012
Sidebar photo by Marnie Jones
Memorial photo courtesy New Stories
Other photos courtesy Scott Mauk


May 15, 2015
May 17, 2015