As soon as Covid19 touched down just a few miles from my home, I began a daily video blog – Facebook Live at 5;05. Something exceptional had broken into our lives, and “We’re all in this together” became the surprising shared Mantra. Caring was in the air, stronger than the scent of fear. Sensing an opportunity for the decades-long movement towards a resilient world to gain ground, I began recording conversations with my long-time sustainability elders and allies, asking what new possibilities they saw.
In the spirit of the moment, I called these the CoVida Conversations. Co-Vida. Life together. To each friend I posed this question: What are you noticing as things come apart that we can anchor in language, ideas, policies so these can take root in the future. I quoted Milton Friedman: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
I’ve selected 3 of the 10 interviews I did in April as a sampler: David Korten, Sherri Mitchell and Robert Gilman. We’ve added transcripts and links to recordings. They well represent the wisdom shared so generously by each friend. See all the CoVida Conversations from April 2020 here.
Then in May I approached the Post Carbon Institute, where I serve as a member of the Board, about continuing such conversations under their umbrella, including a wider range of voices. The question changed; we asked each guest, What could possibly go right? (subtext – even with all that seems to be going wrong). By the time we started, the Pandemic had moved into our lives, like pushy relatives, to stay indefinitely. And the murder of George Floyd suddenly ignited a racial justice uprising with an intensity and engagement not seen in recent years. The 15 interviews I did in June under PCI banner are informed by both the pandemic and this uprising – making the innocent sense of solidarity pale in comparison with the shared outrage and willingness to be in the streets and search our souls.
In late September a new set will be published weekly through the end of the year. We are casting an even wider net to include more black, brown and indigenous wisdom as well as thinkers far outside my personal networks. Sign up here to be notified as new episodes are released, or subscribe on your favorite podcast app. If you rate us, more people will notice us.
As we begin, I look back on March with some wistfulness about how much possibility we felt. The world is still full of possibilities. Breakdowns beget breakthroughs, but it’s clear these won’t come without struggle, grit and endurance. There will be setbacks and strife, especially with the polarization in the US and elsewhere and the heavy breathing of autocrats at so many nation’s doors. On top of this, the economic damage from the lock-downs may take a decade to heal. And the multiplying effects of human impact on the earth systems mean that we don’t even know what fires, floods, droughts this decade will bring