Sonoma County Regenerating

These days are ones in which we are broken and remade.These times invite us to consider what is truly important — and to talk with each other about our grief and our passion and our vision. Community makes community, community leads community, whatever the challenge , community itself has the answers. Sure, we often need help. Communities that become more self-reliant also become more interdependent.

Disasters bring devastation, destruction and despair. They also release us from just doing today what we did yesterday. They create an invitation to connect with each other and explore what we  really want. Just in the past three years, Tubbs Fire, Kincade Fire, Forced Power Shut Offs, COVID-19 and now the 2020 Fires.

NewStories works in this space of disaster and community. We believe that connected community is the key – for preparing, recovering, regenerating.

Here are some resources we’ve put together for you.

Principles of Life Affirming Leadership.  We have worked with people from many places to distill some of the key principles which help us regenerate community. That’s what regeneration is, really. It is doing things in which which affirm and build with life. Regenerative Agriculture is one of the best know sets of practices grown from such principles. The underlying question, always, is are we working in ways which make us stronger together, or are we extracting, doing damage to the systems we need to nourish.

7 Stages of Disaster Recovery — How the Light Gets In. Angela Blanchard was the Executive Director of Neighborhood Centers in Houston and she weathered more major disasters than most of us. She wrote this piece about 8 years ago, giving an important overview of the stages of disaster. We all know, this is a process – seemingly without end. While Angela calls them stages, we also think of them as a spiral. We keep moving through these stages.

Community ConversationsThe core of this work is, we believe, having a better conversation. This link  leads to a community report coming out of a project in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. We’re currently using zoom dialogues to help members of the community find their way into a future they want. This one is a bit further along than other community conversations we’re part of right now. In every case people are emphasizing putting racial justice at the core of community recovery work.

Spiral of CoCreatingFor NewStories it is so important that we see the work needed now as systemic and that we begin to think in terms of a system for community impact. Too often we do one thing, and expect change. It doesn’t happen that way. There are actually some specific ways of engaging which cocreate collective impact. This spiral gives some hints.

Regenerating ParadiseNewStories worked extensively in Paradise last year. Part of the inquiry we brought was knowing that while disaster creates conditions which can lead to transformative change and while many see the possibility of an important restart, it just doesn’t happen. So we have been focusing on what are the practices and structures which might actually result in Systemic Change. We just have to get beyond the siloed approaches disasters spawn. It is not good enough. This blog from a year ago describes the framework we dreamed up last year in Paradise. Check out, also, the Regenerating Paradise Website.

Enspirited Leadership. New forms of leadership are needed now. We think of them as “enspirited leadership.”  Every part of us is involved – our hearts, our minds, our hands and our spirit. Nothing less is sufficient. 

Seeing the Bigger Picture. We’ll close this page with this. It is essential that we image our work in a larger context — one that enables us to see that dedicated work is required simultaneously in many different parts of the system. Make no mistake, we are in a time when we must hospice the old while we simultaneously midwife the new. Our “Two Loops” approach is one we have used for many years now to help people see the interdependent systems.

Many of the ideas and resources on this page have been sourced, in part, by Bob Stilger’s work in Japan. His book AfterNow: When We Cannot See the Future, Where Do We Begin?  is like a Farmer’s Almanac. If you go to the book’s website: www.AfterNow.Today, you can download your preferred eVersion of the book at 50% off with discount code Sonoma!

For more information on all of this, please email