Time for action

February 8th, 2009

What a difference a day makes. Many thousands of Victorians did not have a good weekend. They now face the devastation of bush fires that swept the State on Saturday in extraordinarily hot weather, fuelled by gale force winds. Whole townships have been destroyed, and many, many lives lost. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

This is a real test for us as a community – whatever that term means to you. It’s an opportunity for those of us who can, to do something.

Donate money.

And here’s some other links for information, support etc.

Support family and friends, neighbours and strangers. Here’s some resources to help.

For those of us lucky enough to avoid disaster THIS time, continue to build our individual, family and neighbourhood resilience.

Donate our expertise. I’m working on how to coordinate this for facilitators. It’s too early for facilitation to make a difference. Right now people need to grieve, and need emergency support, somewhere to stay, clothes to wear, food and someone to hug. Over the next few weeks and months we can help with community building. If you’d like to donate any expertise you have please leave a comment.

27 Comments so far

  1. Community | Yes and Space on February 8, 2009 7:59 pm

    […] Viv McWaters lives not far from me and is part of this SurfCoast community. Viv has written this blog post from the heart and calls it Time for Action. I am with Viv on offering expertise when communities are ready for it … Viv writes: […]

  2. Geoff Brown on February 8, 2009 8:19 pm

    Hi Viv, Count me in on both fronts … offerings to those communities in need and in helping our own community to build resilence.


  3. Judy Clark on February 8, 2009 8:50 pm

    Hi Viv
    Good on you for calling us to action when it all seems so overwhelming. I’m interested in assisting and have some experience working with community orgs in previous disasters – although nothing of the magnitude that is unfolding here and now.

  4. Chris Corrigan on February 8, 2009 9:25 pm

    Viv…probably not much we can do from afar but offer support. If you want to kick around design ideas, let’s Skype – happy to help you all think through what comes next. A group of us did this same thing in the days after Katrina, mobilizing facilitation resources from afar, and whatever I can do to help out in this instance, I’m happy to do so.

  5. Lynn Walsh on February 8, 2009 9:59 pm

    Hi Viv
    My offers could be (depending on assessed needs)
    – facilitation (either solo or in teams – team approach assist debriefs for facilitators)
    – assistance with development of shared principles and values for such an exercise
    – documentation of raw outputs of workshops (either where I am present or not)
    – materials and consumables (either in kind or funds for)
    – regular short blocks of time to sustain ongoing relationships in a community
    A bit all over the place. Hope the ideas assist. Am good at asking the ‘how’ application questions if that helps for early conversations/thinking eg How can we communicate the offer and to whom is offer best made? Lynn

  6. Nicole Hunter on February 8, 2009 10:53 pm

    Hi Viv – I also feel unable to assist being so far away. If I can help with bouncing around ideas given my background in fire affected communities and in particular the recovery and community redevelopment phase please let me know. I also know some great contacts back in Vic. I am deeply saddened and distressed by what is going on and wish I could do something. Thankyou fo starting this. Regards Nic

  7. Cath Botta on February 9, 2009 9:13 am

    Hi Viv,
    such a horrific weekend. Very scary. We were shrounded in smoke and tuned to the radio all day. I would be very keen to donate facilitation services for communities affected. Thanks, Cath

  8. Doug Germann on February 9, 2009 11:32 am


    You say not much you can do yet–people need to grieve. Could you help with that? Open space to remember, to feel the pain?

    :- Doug.

  9. Wendy Hopkins on February 9, 2009 1:38 pm

    Hi Viv,
    Thanks for coordinating this! I’m offering my facilitation services too; for groups and for individuals (‘life coaching’). My strengths are in enabling people to:
    * feel what they’re feeling and express this in a safe supportive environment (a helpful part of the grief process), using deep ecology processes.
    * focus on what they’re concerned or passionate about, vision how they want things to be, and determine strategies and steps they want to take.
    * work together
    * connect with nature
    Perhaps some deep ecology workshops would be helpful soonish; allowing people to grieve and feel, eg the Truth Mandala that was developed for Chernobyl victims. The Gaia Vic community would probably step up for this if we wanted a few facilitators.

    Thanks again,

  10. Ron West on February 9, 2009 4:27 pm

    Most of my facilitation work has been in business rather than community settings, but I’m happy to work in any capacity that’s useful.

  11. Sue James on February 9, 2009 4:29 pm

    Hi Viv

    How wonderful of you to coordinate this! Count me in.

    In fact, I think my partner Chris has already offered our services on behalf of both of us.
    We’ll be happy to help in whatever way we can.


  12. Carol Sherriff on February 10, 2009 12:00 am

    Hi Viv
    Picked up your blog and although Simon and I cannot help in person, I just wanted to let you know that as far away as the UK people are concerned and send positive wishes and support across cyberspace.
    Best wishes
    Carol Sherriff and Simon Wilson

  13. Nancy White on February 10, 2009 12:51 am

    Like Chris Corrigan in Canada, please feel free to call on me if there is something we can do from afar. Creating an online space for people to share their grief, experiences, reconnect if disconnected, proved really important in the post Katrina times and on smaller scales for other local trying times.



  14. Geoff McFarlane on February 10, 2009 7:38 am

    What ever Lyn and I can do help please let us know. Count us in

  15. Kimbra White on February 10, 2009 10:58 am

    Hi Viv – please place me on any list for volunteer facilitation services. Kimbra

  16. Viv McWaters on February 10, 2009 4:37 pm

    Geoff – thanks, caring for others AND working in our own community is important

    Judy – any experience is good experience in this situation methinks

    Chris – I will certainly take up your offer and we’ll talk soon, your experience and insights will be invaluable

    Lynn – thanks for being the catalyst for this

    Nic – likewise, your past experience and knowledge of Victoria will be invaluable, no matter where in the world you are

    Cath – your connections with rural communities and involvement in DCI will be a great help to any community you work with

    Doug – we will all need a lot of open space, to acknowledge what’s lost and to just ‘be’ before moving forward, Thanks

    Wendy – reconnecting with each other, community and nature is going to be very important – thanks for bringing your skills in this area

    Ron – facilitation is facilitation – businesss or community, people will need our help to debreif, vision and plan, it’s only the context that’s different

    Sue – yes, Chris did email me, and welcome to the team!

    Carol – it’s wonderful to have support from around the globe, and I’m sure your metaphor approach will be of great use when we start working with communities

    Nancy – thanks too, I think an on-line presence will be very important. I’ll welcome an opportunity to ‘pick your brains’

    Geoff – an opportunity to implement what we learned from the GFSC DCI workshops (although I hoped we never would)

    Kim – will do

    So thanks again, everyone. I also have a number of people who have emailed me directly. I’m talking with my GFSC colleagues about doing a short webinar to explore the roles of facilitators in the recovery process.



  17. Lindy Amos on February 10, 2009 4:49 pm

    Viv – thanks so much for the offer to co ordinate, both Ursula and I from Collective Possibilities would be delighted to assist with facilitation,administration, follow up anything that is needed really – look forward to hearing from you when you are ready to go, we have some contacts at the City of Whittlesea that may come in useful, let us know what you need, thanks

  18. Annie Bolitho on February 11, 2009 10:00 am

    I’d like to be on the list to offer my facilitation skills. At a later stage … I have skills in gathering stories. In the ACT bushfires as part of recovery process stories were collected towards the creation of a record and development of a memorial.

  19. Stephen Kelly on February 11, 2009 12:23 pm

    Hi Viv,

    Happy to help in any way I can. I can offer my facilitation skills, or just another set of arms and legs to help at an event.


  20. Susan Conroy on February 13, 2009 12:45 pm

    Viv and Lynn
    thanks for getting this underway. I would be happy to contribute my skills as part of a facilitation team. I also have experience in faciltiating community input into the planning and development of social and community infrastructure. I will also pass your call to action on through the Social Planning Chapters in each state of the Planning Institute of Australia.

  21. Helen Lawrence on February 13, 2009 2:15 pm

    Hi Viv, Count me in. Happy to help in any helpful way I can re facilitation, coordination etc.

  22. Barbara Wheeler on February 13, 2009 4:42 pm

    I’m happy to help with facilitatio or in any way really. I am good with ‘sense of place’ issues and facilitating the translation of community wishes to govt. Good on you for your leadership.

  23. Maxine Cooper on February 13, 2009 5:18 pm

    Viv and Lynn
    Happy to assist in any way. From the 2003 Canberra fires I have experience at managing recovery efforts after such events. It took us years to deal with things – I can contribute in many ways – expertise on planning and environment issues through to facilitation. I am happy to be a contact for anyone who may just need to have a person to contact at any time to talk to.

  24. sue birtles on February 13, 2009 7:53 pm

    Hello Viv and lynn.
    Hapy to assist in anyway. I am currently overseas. Like Maxine i was actively involved in the community recovery process in Canberra and member of the bushfire recovery task force with spspcific responsibility for community recovey. I currently live in melbourne. Am a planner and have experience in community facilitation and assisiting in rebuillding communities.WIll be back in Australia 28 February.

  25. Facilitation - Evaluation - Beyond the Edge - Viv McWaters on February 13, 2009 9:06 pm

    […] While I decided to help coordinate facilitators willing to donate their services to help in the reco… and the AFN, Anne Pattillo in New Zealand had the same thought regarding IAP2. So naturally […]

  26. Gillian Hayman on February 13, 2009 9:16 pm

    I am in Gippsland Viv. Please let me know if I can help.

  27. Facilitation - Evaluation - Beyond the Edge - Viv McWaters on February 18, 2009 6:04 pm

    […] In an earlier post I asked for anyone who was willing to donate time and/or skills for the community recovery process following the recent devastating bush fires here in Victoria. […]

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