We are still tallying up the damage wreaked by Hurricane Dorian—’we’ being everyone in the Eastern Seaboard, from the devastated Bahamas to Florida, the Carolinas, and Nova Scotia. In this neighbourhood — half of our people and our work — we emerge what’s been measured as the worst storm ever to affect the power grid. Our capital is nicknamed the ‘City of Trees’, and now that the skies are blue and calm again, the sound of chainsaws firing up can be heard across the province.
An image from the streets of Halifax, shared by The Chronicle-Herald, stood out. The wind so strong it pulled up an old stalwart by its roots, and the sidewalk with it, too. The crash it must have made when it came down!
Frederick Douglass articulated it best: at The Outside, one of our essential tenets is in the value of great big crashes (and what comes after). They’re inevitable in weather as much as in systems change work. As we wrote in Difficult days pave the way:
In systems change, some of the most valuable days are the difficult ones. During a day like that, you may get the sensation that you — along with everyone else in the room — are climbing uphill. You know you’ve got everything you need in the room, but you can’t seem to tease it out. You might see a lot of crossed arms or furrowed brows. The challenges, for the moment, might feel insurmountable for everyone. Participants might enter the space feeling exhausted, demoralized, defensive, territorial, or repeatedly blocked. And we get it. Continually unfolding complexities suck all the air out of the room. A difficult reckoning, no matter how worthy, is never comfortable.
As a collective of people sharing the work of change, difficult days are par for the course. But they’re more than just something to be tolerated. They’re essential. The best ideas, the most honest truths, and the most unexpected alliances are forged in fire.
No day we spend together — as long as we're trying our best — is misspent. Even when something has been irrevocably blown down by the conditions around us. The more important thing is not what has been lost, but how we rally in the chaos to come together and create something new.