Directly Affected – EP/DM Has to Come From Us!

Volunteers attempt to clean up English Bay after Bunker fuel spill from Directly Affected on Vimeo.

This is a topic that truly resonate with me: when you play the victim’s game, you empower those “in power” even further: if you wait for “others” to come and rescue, you’ll become their toy and you’ll become completely disempowered with no real decisions to make…it also twist the game so now is always “the government” or this or that relief or humanitarian institution’s fault whether something is being done well, wrong or done at all…

This is what I have experienced in real life: institutions of all levels and types have great websites, brochures, videos and the like announcing how great their projects and teams are…but for those really and directly affected, reality is very different: go try and find help for a difficult son and you can spend all your son’s (and your) lives jumping from doctor to doctor, counsellor to counsellor when probably moving to a small town on a rural area and experimenting with nature and art would have changed it all. Go try to find a truly effective and empowering Emergency Preparedness workshop that builds your resilience and interdependence with family, friends and neighbours instead of teaching you to buy more plastic pre-packed stuff and wait for the big guys to come and rescue: believe me, you won’t find it! Go and try to see real sustainable transformation  and real climate change adaptation projects in the form of massive Victory gardens, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, re-localization of the economy and changes in by-laws and permits so people can create co-ops, have chickens and goats or grow food in otherwise wasteful landscapes…but no! You’ll find great websites promoting all this but no real support when it comes to reality: you’ll find red-tape and constrains (“are you an expert?” what’s your experience?” we need to involve the engineers” and more and more…)

This is what I’ve experienced and witnessed in more than three years of trying different things: when you move institutionally, the pace is incredibly slow and “business as usual”…money, power, arrogance and ignorance, titles and hierarchy all get in the way…

The video:

Volunteers attempt to clean up #VanFuelSpillRegular people of #Vancouver are attempting to clean up the beach after a toxic fuel spill because they see no professional clean-up crew doing it.We interviewed these volunteers to understand what they were seeing last night in English Bay. #VanFuelSpill #DirectlyAffected #WhereWeLive

Posted by Directly Affected – film on Friday, 10 April 2015

This is absolutely right: this is how top-down, complex and institutionalized emergency/disaster response works: it is not the responders’ fault but the way things are organized and highly structured…I’ve saying this for years: this is why EP organized by cities and other highly hierarchical organizations only work when the disaster is “manageable” and within “business as usual”…this is NOT what we are facing in reality and what we will face in the coming years due to climate change and the desperation of getting more of the dirty stuff from the ground. Also, social and economical factors will probably worsen and we will have more “disasters” and “emergencies” of other types…how are we going to respond? Waiting to be “rescued” by “experts”?

The response is NO: we need to build resilience in communities and at home NOW, because as this video shows, the first and better responders are always CARING PEOPLE who happen to be there and directly affected…the rest is disempowerment and bureaucracy…

Sorry for the rant…

5 Comments on “Directly Affected – EP/DM Has to Come From Us!

  1. Good rant! It’s so true, most disasters have seem to have a sizeable degree off unpredictability about them. Our own resilience will be what makes the difference.


    • In Transition initiatives we have a saying: “If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late; if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little; but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.”…we are the ones we have been waiting for…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sylvia, these are such important observations about bureaucracy – “the way we have always done things” didn’t even work in the past. How can we expect it to work in the uncertainty of these times and those of the future?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is not a rant, but the truth, top down hierarchical structures are only serving the elites to stay in control, but never work for the peasants in our corrupt system.
    Yet every school, university,mainstream media,etc is telling us this is the way and if you don’t comply with this or at least except it, you are identified as a danger to the system and attacked and silenced.
    When we started the green now brown party, we set it up without a leader, only the base made decisions and elected speakers who only had the mandate to speak on behalf of the base. The elite made sure that this would not last long, because this was becoming fast a danger to the establishment.
    This all happened from 1981-1983, my last time I thought we could change the system from within.


    • Sometimes I get the strong sense that the “system” cannot be changed (from either within or outside it). It would eventually crash by the burden of its own ineptitude and messiness…probably sooner than later. The only thing we can do is to resist and try our best to live our lives as closer to our values as we can…when we can, and rebel and fight back when we can’t


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