How does a community recover from a devastating natural disaster? Where do businesses get started again? How are homes rebuilt? And when do families start healing? In this follow-up episode, Christchurch earthquake survivor Jolie Wills joins Rick Hoaglund once again to talk about how her community responded to the devastation, and how her own experiences would go on to shape her career in disaster response and leadership orientation in times of crisis.
OT Ep. 13 Transcription – Natural Disasters P2.txt
00;00;11;03 – 00;02;36;06
Welcome to OnTopic with Empathia. I’m your host, Rick Hoaglund. Today on the podcast, we’re continuing our conversation started in the last episode with Jolie Wills in which we discussed her and her family’s personal story of living through the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake on February 22nd, 2011. It was a devastating quake that left much of the city in rubble. Today, we will discuss how does this affect your community going forward and what are the lasting effects on the responders. You can find part one of this conversation on our website, www.empathia.com. The aftermath of a natural disaster can have wide ranging effects on individuals, communities and the environment. Here are some common effects from natural disasters- damage to buildings, roads, bridges, power lines and other infrastructure. Human lives can be lost, or there could be injuries to survivors. People may be forced to evacuate their homes. This leads to temporary or long term displacement for individuals and families. The economy can be affected because businesses may suffer; they may be damaged or they may be forced to shut down temporarily or permanently. Floods can lead to contamination of water sources, soil erosion and damage to the ecosystem. Mental and emotional well-being may also suffer. Survivors may experience post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other psychological effects. Communities may experience the destruction of social structures and community cohesion. Communities may face challenges in accessing essential services such as health care, education and clean water. There’s also a risk to public health. This could include the spread of diseases due to contaminated water, inadequate sanitation, and overcrowded living conditions. Just remember, the recovery process after a natural disaster can be lengthy. It can also be complex. Rebuilding physical infrastructure, restoring essential services, addressing economic losses and supporting the psychological wellbeing of survivors are significant challenges. They require time, resources and coordinated efforts. Welcome back, Jolie! I really appreciate all the time that you’re spending with us today.
00;02;36;09 – 00;02;38;05
Thank you! It’s great to be here!
00;02;38;07 – 00;03;14;21
And you’ve told us, you and your family’s story about going through a terrible, terrible, terrible earthquake. But I don’t mean this to sound rude, but it’s actually kind of bigger than your family because you had a whole community and you have a whole leadership group that’s also affected by this. So you talked about your children’s resilience, and I want to talk a little bit about that because it leads into this whole community response as well. So you said that you were happy that you had resilient children. What does that mean? What does it mean to be resilient?
00;03;14;23 – 00;04;51;01
I don’t know. What’s- what’s really interesting is if I think about it at the core, it’s about having the ability to be able to to cope or deal with life’s challenges, curveballs, adversity. Right. And it doesn’t mean that you’re untouched by it and it doesn’t mean you need to have superhero strength. You know, so for me, it’s about, you know, just being able to deal with tough times doesn’t mean it’s easy. And there’s this one phrase that I tend to react a little bit to, given given our experience. And that’s the question of resilience with bouncing back. And I know it comes from the root around, you know, like a reed that goes back in the same form after the wind or the storm has gone through like I understand where that concept comes from. But when I think about bouncing back, there’s there’s very little bouncing involved in it, dealing with adversity like it can feel a whole lot more like crawling on your hands and knees through thick mud or hanging on by your fingernails, right? So resilient doesn’t mean that you’re not having a tough time, right, as you go through the process. And when you think about the bouncing back, you know, it is there often is no going back. You know, you may not have that option. And even if you do, you may not choose to. So we often don’t go back to how our life was before, who we were before. So, you know, I’d say it’s about being able to to tackle that the tough times, but not necessarily having it easy. But we often come out the other end, not having just coped and dealt with it, but with this renewed sense of confidence in our ability to do tough things. So we often don’t talk about the growth that can come at the other end.
00;04;51;03 – 00;05;10;11
So your whole community, I’m guessing, is undergoing this resilience phase. I mean, it’s not it’s not just your family, it’s your whole community. But you did mention early on, earlier in our in our last segment about your community was very happy and bonded together. But did it stay that way?
00;05;10;13 – 00;11;37;28
Very astute Rick, very astute! So what we tend to find out and we saw this play out in textbook form with with our community, but we’ve seen it play out disasters again and again and this is the idea that every community is different. Right. And every disaster is different things. That’s really important to hold on to. But there are some common patterns that played out after most disasters. And this is definitely what we saw play out in our communities. And it’s never this neat and tidy start. But we started off with this heroic and honeymoon phase. This is where it’s it’s terrible what you’ve gone through. It’s indescribably hard, but you have something in common and you’re bonded by it and you can peer and combine resources and you help each other out. And you know, there’s this amazing sense of unity, a whole lot of energy and a really naive sense of optimism. I thought we had no idea what was ahead or how long it would take. And then what happens is it takes longer than you think, right? It is much, much harder than what you ever expect it to be. And you’re encountering these processes and systems that maybe you’ve never encountered before, whether it’s local government around rebuilding, whether it’s insurance, you know, all these processes and systems that you have to go through that maybe never imagined the reality that you’re in and just aren’t equipped for it or under strain themselves. And so what you’ve got is this energy depletion exercise. All right. So it’s just a lot of energy going in one direction. Just every time you have to innovate a routine, the things in your life that normally save you time and energy, you know, just how you get your kids to school and what sleeping looks like. How do you do the supermarket shopping, the washing! Everything that we talked about, the laundry, you know, when you have to innovate all those routines and see to saving time and energy, they using a lot of brain space, a lot of energy. You are having to really manage your own emotions and anxiety for others. You supporting others around you. You know, the to-do list, the life admin of recovery is just ginormous, you know, absolutely huge. And so what you get is a whole lot of very tired people. You know, they’re frustrated, they’re exhausted. And when you have prolonged stress of that type, you know, it impacts our ability to be able to relate constructively to each other. I mean, whose ever themself when they’re really tired, really, you know? And so you get these really united communities who then start to divide, rise their different experiences or their different circumstances or the emotional tiredness plays out. But we’re a lot less tolerant when we’re in that space. We’re a lot less able to see from someone else’s perspective. And, you know, we can get a bit emotionally tatty and ratty with each other. So we’d say these communities that we’re initially united would would become divided as the different experiences play out. You know, some some houses were red-zoned. So it meant that as a result of the earthquake, either their land had dropped, which made them flood prone, or it was realized that they were on liquefaction-prone land. So it’s not a good idea to rebuild in the same place. So they weren’t allowed to. So they were red zones and had to relocate. But in a community, you could have, you know, one half of the straight fine, the other half red-zoned or within a red zone area. You’ve got people who really want to fight to stay, you know, and others that want to move on. And so you suddenly get these very different experiences and different approaches within community playing out and with people with less empathy and tolerance to be able to see from each other’s perspective. And then you get a lot of frustration and blame because all of the the decisions that are made early on, all of the systems that had to be innovated on the fly, they’re not perfect. And that creates a lot of stress and frustration for very tired people. And so you get sort of this bottom of the dip where there’s disillusionment, frustration, tiredness. Now, I know the rest of New Zealand must have thought, you know, people from Christchurch were just really ratty. And we- and we were! You know, looking back, we we were quicker to better, you know, on the roads like that, that patience, all of those things really started to wear thin. And then at the other end, you know, we talk about that post-traumatic growth. So, you know, I think once you have the time, the space, it takes a really, really long time to get there but what we don’t talk about is more than half of people grow in some way as a result of going through adversity and having things changed in their life. And it doesn’t discount and it doesn’t downplay the had the hard times and the pain that they suffer and getting to that point. But I think it’s helpful for communities and people working with communities to know that because when you’re sitting at that bottom, it feels like you’re on a one way trek to nowhere good, right? And knowing that actually there is hope ahead. And if you’re having a tough time, that that’s really normal and it it doesn’t mean that you’re off track. It doesn’t mean that good things aren’t a hit, as is really important for community members to know. And that growth comes in many forms, right>? And might be including for community, not just for individuals or families. So if you think about disaster, they’re often this horrible opportunity to reimagine the future. So with that, you get people who come out the other end with a much more intentional life. You know, they’re often shaken out of, and excuse the pun, but they’re shaken out of, you know, those things that they’ve complacently drifted through, you know, or a life that they’ve lived to suit the expectations inherited from others with it, society, parents, family, you know, or it might be the impetus for someone to leave an emotional, emotionally or physically abusive relationship. And then you see it play out in communities, right? When everything’s been turned upside down and broken and you get a chance to put it back together, you may not put it back to how it was. You have an opportunity to reimagine what that might be. So it might be, you know, we want to redesign this community to be safer, to be more equitable, to be greener, to be more accessible, right? Or more future-ready. You know, we were a city that was designed to be like old England of the past. So what does our future look like in terms of how do we make it greener, fairer, all of those things, you know? So yeah, a bit of a journey for sure, but a community goes on.
00;11;38;01 – 00;12;01;13
So as a community leader and you’re looking at this and you know that there can be good out of this, what are those steps? Are there particular steps? That’s more the question I’m asking. Are there particular steps that you think are sort of common coming out of this? Like, I’m guessing the first thing is like about maybe life and safety and then how does a community go forward from there?
00;12;01;16 – 00;14;15;27
Yeah, I think it’s just the very process we’ve talked about, right? It is securing just the basics to be able to live safely, you know, your shelter, your food, all of those things coming together to help each other with that. But that united up and then it’s the longer process of the assumptions in your life that have been upturned, right? About the world being a safe space or that I don’t know a government system would be X, Y, or Z. It’s like, I don’t know. There’s so many assumptions about the world that we have that get turned upside down by disaster and we often are asking ourselves these quite big existential questions. But like you saw after COVID, right, You know, is this my home’s damaged and we have to move or rebuild? Well, is this where I want to live? Is this the type of mortgage I want to have? Is this who I want to live with? You know, like suddenly you’re asking these really big questions that are very painful but are often, you know, important fact for getting to that reexamined life later. So there’s a lot of this existential questioning as individuals, as families, as a community. And I think the other thing we have to get past as a step is the first plan in anybody’s head. And there’s this amazing and I- and I’m not going to be at remember who said this, but this emergency management, you know, text way back in something like 1960s. So it’s been around for a long time. But it was it was very true for us that the first plan, recovery plan and anyone’s head is what was there before, right? You have this yearning to go back to what was there before, and that’s what you just assuming you’re the planners, is a very first step. And one of the steps, I think, as a family, as a community, is to get past that, to think, well, what you know, what do we want to put back that was there before? What can we put back that was there before? But what might be reimagined, right? Which takes people moving out of that task focused adrenalin mode, which is just let’s put back what was there as quickly as we can to a very different type of thinking. Yeah. And then as as a community being able to have those conversations around what matters to different types of people? What, you know, functions, do these different places serve? And you know, if we can’t put them back, what does that look like instead?
00;14;16;00 – 00;14;40;21
So this particular event and I’m going to be honest, it’s more than that. It’s events similar to this large-scale crisis. Events are kind of your laboratory for your job. Now. It wasn’t the case before the earthquake, but it is the case now! So just at a high level, what do you do? Because you talk about emergency management. So I know you have something to do with emergency management, but what is it that you do?
00;14;40;23 – 00;18;04;00
Great question. And it’s probably useful as a bit of background. So I’m a cognitive scientist, so I’m really interested in the connection between stress and performance. Right? And it’s clearly stood me in good stead, you know, after this particular event and many sense. So what was happening with the Christchurch earthquakes as I jumped and as many did, I was already on the governance of Red Cross regionally and so I jumped in along with anyone else related connected with Red Cross and many others to support the community that was going through, you know, everything that was happening.And as a result of that, as a country, we were thinking about for the first time in a long time. This isn’t just a relief or response effort. This is a whole rebuild of a city. So what is that going to require in terms of recovery program? What are the supports that we’re going to need to put in place for our community? And so I became, along with my co-founder, who was leading the recovery work for New Zealand, Red Cross, I became involved in the recovery piece for the city. So, you know, we were overseeing all that. The grant appeal funds, we were overseeing the support for those that lost loved ones, those that were seriously injured, but also just the broader community effort. Because when you’ve got people going through 15,000 aftershocks and a really complicated repair and rebuild process of homes in a city, that’s a lot of prolonged stress for a community to be going through. So what what did our support need to look like for that- for that community? So that was the role that we were playing after the disaster itself. And one of my biggest challenges at the time was how do we sustain and support the very good people doing this work, you know? So I was impacted as a leader. I was leading a team of people who were impacted, who were leading a team of impacted volunteers, who were then providing critical support to a community. And we knew the stress wasn’t going to let up any time soon. It was going to be years that we were going to need this support to this community. And so we threw everything you could think of it this team, to be able to really support and sustain them. And we were still burning them out. And so that led to a couple of things. That led to a Winston Churchill fellowship for me and one for Elizabeth. So these are two global research fellowships where we could travel the globe looking at other disasters, including many here in the U.S., to get a sense of what are the leadership learnings like, how do we better support and link leaders with the learning from disasters that have happened before? And what are the learnings around workforce resilience and what we need to do to support people doing this work so that they are better equipped to support a community. So that’s kind of a little bit of the background. And the other thing it led to was then creating, you know, the training, the resources, the support or the guidance to link people who are going through disaster with the wisdom of others who’ve been there before so that you’re not working it out from scratch. So it having, a yeah, mission, is all about, you know, really taking the learning from disasters and, you know, equipping leaders and teams to sustain and perform under pressure, just essentially making it just that little bit easier for someone afflicted by disaster and those working to support them.
00;18;04;03 – 00;18;25;05
So earlier when we were discussing, you had mentioned that people were burning out and in the leadership roles, they’re burning out, they’re struggling. What’s causing this? What you’ve done a lot of research in this and and and that’s really what the foundation of your company is as well. Well, what’s causing this? Like, what can communities do to keep this from happening?
00;18;25;07 – 00;27;22;04
So great question. You know, this is happening for both leaders and teams and supporters of reforms after after disaster. You know, so this will be your recovery teams, the official people who step up, but will also be, you know, a sports coach and a community or like those supporters and people who support in a community and absorb a lot of people’s grief come in many different forms. And so you’ll see this play out in many ways with many different types of people. And you know that that process we talked about communities going on that rollercoaster with that naive sense of optimism, the honeymoon and the heroic phase. And then they hit that disillusionment, frustration at the bottom of the dip, and then they come out the other end with growth, you know, for many. But not everybody. But a lot of people do. You know, it’s the same rollercoaster that people working in this go on, right? It just looks slightly different, but it’s the same kind of rollercoaster. So they will sit out at a cracking pace, whether it’s leaders or teams working in this environment, because the situation demands it off them, right? They’ll have a whole lot of adrenaline, a whole lot of energy. Again, a naive sense of how long this will take and how it will play out. And I can tell a story and this is from one of the people I interviewed in Japan. It was a woman who was supporting communities into temporary accommodation after the tsunami, after the earthquake. And I was interviewing her and I was nervous about getting it wrong culturally, you know, what are the cultural differences and what might this look like? And so I was asking her questions, letting her know that this is what we’ve experienced in Christchurch. We were seeing burnout and impacts on our people and we were finding it really hard to be able to support and sustain them. And she jumped up from the table – I was working through an interpreter – and she jumped up from the table and she started running around the room chanting something. And I thought, What have I done? Like, I’ve done something clearly very wrong here. And the interpreter said, No, no, no, no, no, no, it’s okay. She’s saying, “I am human, I am human.” And then she sat down and once she settled, she explained it to me. She said in the first year in this work, I had all this energy, I had all this motivation. I was so excited about what the mission that I’m trying to achieve. It’s really important work and there’s so much, you know, compassion and empathy for people. She’s in the second year, you know, I’d lost the energy, but I still had the motivation and the compassion. By the third year, I was losing the motivation and the compassion. And I just thought, what is wrong with me? You know? And so, you know, they, too, are experiencing their energy depletion, right? There’s a lot of energy going out in one direction. They are going to hear and carry the weight of all that that they have seen or they’ve heard or they’ve experienced. They’re going to wear people’s emotions like grief, frustration and anger even when they’ve done nothing to earn it, right? That’s going to be part of their journey and fatigue is going to really impact their ability to be able to keep perspective, their ability to make sound decisions, their ability to interact with teammates and, you know, in a way that’s constructive. So you start to see really tatty- tatty team dynamics going on as well, and they risk being harmed in the process. And if if you’re up for another story, Rick, can I tell another one just to illustrate, illustrate this was another person I interviewed this time after wildfire in Australia. Her name was Anne, she played a really critical role in supporting her community for her local government. And the community had been devastated by this wildfire that had, which had gone through. And she’s said to her, you know, this is a couple of years on after the event, how do you explain to someone why it is that this is so hard now and that you’re still under pressure? And I think people understand this much better now that we’ve gone through COVID and people have experienced that tale and how long it takes. But at the time I don’t think there was an empathy understanding. It was just a why aren’t you over it, You know, again, like us thinking it wouldn’t take long to rebuild a city. You know, there’s not a sense unless you’ve been through it. And so she explained it to me. She said it’s like carrying this ever increasing load of bricks. She said, you know, like all of my bricks that I was carrying before the disaster, You know, I’ve not got enough resources in my role typically for all the things that we need to do. So there’s some things that are difficult about my role just naturally that you can’t really remove those bricks. That is kind of are what they are. I’ve got some challenging community members to deal with, but I’ve also got some of my own bricks. You know, I’m a parent, I’ve got family logistics. I worry about my aging parents. These things going on in my life. And so I’ve got this pile of bricks, but it’s all doable, but there’s not a lot of spare capacity. I’m a busy kind of person. And she said, But then this disaster happens. Every role that I’m playing becomes so much more challenging and so much heavier. So like, it’s like every brick has tripled in size and then there’s a whole lot of things that I didn’t have to contend with beforehand that obviously came as a result of this disaster. All those routines I had to innovate or the needs and what my community is going through. So this- this load is suddenly really huge. And she said, and the thing is, I didn’t realize it’s going to go on for so long. So I kind of wobbled under the weight of it, but thought, I can do this, I can do this. It’s hard, but I can do this, not realizing how long it would go on for. And she said, Then over time I just expected the bricks to get lighter. But they didn’t. Things just got more complex. People just got more frustrated and more tired and I’d look around and everyone’s equally loaded. And I’m that person that always manages to be a safe pair of hands. And I identify as a person that says yes to people when they need something. And so I keep, you know, accumulating more bricks. And then she said to me, the crux of it was when my boss came to me said, Anne, I can see you’ve got a whole lot going on, You know, like, I really hope you’re looking after yourself. You know, self-care is really important. And don’t get me wrong, it really, really is. Like, self-care is vitally important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. And it became really clear when he said, Anne look, I really hope you’re looking after yourself, but I need you to do five more urgent things for me by the end of the week and chuck five more bricks on. And I think one of the reasons it’s so hard, whether it’s for leaders or for team members, especially mission-driven people who are doing their best and feel the weight of responsibility and the moral obligation to do the best they can is because it’s this cumulative load that they’re dealing with. It’s insidious and it’s relentless. And the impact of that, you know, from the research was everything from burnout. It’s all those things we talked about earlier. When you put the vital things on life, you know, and your life on hold to be able to deal with the challenge at hand. And when that goes on for a long time, you know, your relationships don’t do well when they’re neglected. Your health does not do well when you neglect the basics. Right? Your mental health does not do well when you’re not doing the things to energize you or that give you color, you know, in life and your life, all of those things. And so we were seeing burnout. We were seeing compassion fatigue. We were seeing impact on people’s relationships. We were seeing, you know, people just losing it getting so disoriented and their life and losing the ability to know what they need anymore and to read how tired their bodies are. So, you know, the impacts were incredibly sobering. You know, when we looked at disaster after disaster in terms of the impacts for people going through this. And the flip side of that is, you know, at the other end, we can get their personal professional growth, but I think we need to be even more intentional about it because we need to recognize that that prolonged stress is incredibly hazardous, right? And people working in the space are at risk, you know, that risk of incredible harm. And so if we want to tip the scales towards growth, we need to be really intentional about it. And it means and requires different things from us as leaders to business as usual. You know, and I don’t know, I think about, you know, what it requires. And that’s where a lot of our resources come from, right? You know, what are the things that we’ve grappled with this for? You know, over a decade, We’ve studied it, we’ve designed for it. We’ve learned from other disasters and packaged that up into training and resources because leaders have a lot of weight on their shoulders through all of this, too. So making it really easy to manage this hazard of prolonged stress in a way that is really effective, but also tips the balance towards growth. It’s important not just because you’ve got amazing mission driven people working in this space and we want to prevent bad things happening to good people like I think that should be reason enough right there, post-op post-op. But then you get the added the added pace that I think is, you know, extra motivation. And that’s when you’ve got burnout, when you’ve got turnover, when you’ve got impaired decision making. All of that impacts how do people experience recovery when they’re engaging with your service, with your people who are experiencing these impacts, You actually risk complicating the journey as well, which none of us want.
00;27;22;06 – 00;27;45;04
So if you’re a leader and you are going through a crisis, whether that’s a natural disaster or honestly, probably any type of major crisis, what is your if you were to give them like two or three points that you said, here’s what you need to do for yourself, here’s what you need to do for your team. What would you say?
00;27;45;07 – 00;34;07;06
I’d say around the leadership piece is that- I don’t know. As leaders, we often are quite good at buffering our people, but we carry a huge amount of weight. And I want to tell you a couple of stories because I think the first thing for leaders to know is that you can expect to lose perspective, right? It’s part of what happens under prolonged pressure. One of the hardest, most challenging pieces of this journey is the endurance pace for leaders. And so looking after yourself and having intentional strategies in place is going to be really critical for leaders. And I’m telling, you know, a couple of stories around that. We’ve seen it play out where leaders have been absolutely phenomenal, really well respected, accomplished a huge amount. The communities are behind them, which is not an easy thing through that dip right when he runs frustrated. So they’ve done this phenomenal job working with communities. And, you know, just a couple that come to mind with one leader who was brilliant with community members, really baffled as people absorbed a lot of that emotion and used humor and was very good at connecting with people in a very human way, which we need more leaders like, especially after disaster. And the challenge, though, is that he often used humor to rally his people. And, you know, and he just got to the point through the endurance piece where he lost perspective. And again, this is to be expected, right? We need some strategies in place for this. But as a result of losing perspective, he went on to use his humor in a way that was not appropriate and ended up losing his job, lost his career, and, you know, incredibly difficult impacts for him. Also, his team and his community lost an- you know, an incredible recovery leader. And looking back, he sees if only I’d had some support, some place. I had just lost my way and lost perspective because of the grinding nature and the other example that comes to mind is, again, a woman after a wildfire working with communities. Huge respect from the community, achieved a massive amount over the couple of years that she was leading in that role. And then one day she decided that recovery was done, dusted and over and we were going back to business as usual for this community. And it did not fit. It was out of step with what the community needed and with our right and what her staff and her team, you know, was saying and wanted to respond to. And it caused a lot of harm and hurt as a result of this decision. And later she looked back and said, I actually made that decision because I had reached my limits. It was more a reflection of where I was it and what the community needed, right? So that has consequences, you know, of how well we look after our leaders, how well we look after ourselves as leaders. It’s really important. And then the last story I tell about this again, someone else we interviewed, someone we were so excited to visit because of all she accomplished, you know, with her leadership. And in talking to her, she said, you need to come and see me at home because I’m no longer in the office. At the minute I’m home on stress leave. You can imagine our response was, we don’t need to interview you today, if at all. And she’s like, No, it’s it’s more important now more than ever. Please come and see me. And so we went to to visit her and she said, you know, she took us through the impacts of burnout on her health, physical health, you know, mental health, her career and everything. And then she said to us, But that’s not even the scary part. We see what scarier than that. She said, When I finally had to get off that treadmill, I turned around and I looked at my team and realized there were probably only two or three, three weeks behind me in terms of that journey to burnout. So, you know, I think the first message for leaders is it’s really important we have strategies in place to sustain and support you because, you know, for your own career, your own health, your own relationships, but also because of the flow on impacts, it can have for your teams, the communities. And these are very human, amazing leaders, very capable, intelligent, incredible leaders, right? It happens to everybody. So what is that? What are the the things that are going to have circuit breakers or, you know, things to catch things early so that, you know, we can get back on track when we lose perspective and, you know, re-energise when we need it. And a big part of it, I would say, is to put a personal board in place, for leaders. So, you know, we often have a board for, you know, organizations and that board as is really the theater to think about what are the potholes ahead, you know, on the road and to really help support and guide and be those sort of wise wise guides. And so one of the things I think that is really important in this as leaders is putting that board in place for ourself,right? So if we can expect to lose perspective, who have you got around you? And it doesn’t need to be in your workplace, that can be those wise heads. There’s people that you can take decisions with that aren’t afraid to speak the truth, that really have your back, that will help keep you accountable to the things you need to do for your own personal resilience. You know, having that in place is really important because there’ll be a time in which you cannot hold it all for yourself, and you need that from the crew around you. And the second thing I would say for leaders, and it’s the same for teams and it’s the same for communities, is not to go it alone. Right? We talked about social capital before. So making sure that you’ve got a really good crew of support, but also that you’re not trying to figure it all out from scratch, that the are- you know that for us as leaders in this event in Christchurch, we it’s not the first disaster the world’s ahead, right? We weren’t the first leaders after disaster the world’s ever head. So you know how do we and communities going through it you’re not the first community to go, so take heart in that. You’re not alone. There are other people who have walked. A similar journey will never be the same that I’ve encountered. Many of the frustrations and challenges that you will be facing, and you don’t need to go into it blindly. So, you know, really make use of that hard-won knowledge, wisdom and learning from, you know, recovery experts have seen it play out again again from communities who have lived it firsthand or from leaders have had a role similar to yours. You know, I’d say that that’s good advice for both leaders, teams and communities. For anyone going through life or row after disaster. It is tough. You know, you don’t want to do it the tough way.
00;34;07;09 – 00;34;23;14
So we’re more than ten years since your earthquake. If you were to look back, is your community that you came from near Christchurch, are they back to normal or has it changed? Or is there a normal?
00;34;23;16 – 00;36;38;07
Yeah, great question. Not back to normal. So the city is still being rebuilt. So we’re more than a decade in the cathedral, which was our, you know, iconic symbol that’s set the square. The city is only just started its rebuild process. To me where I talked about division that occurred in the communities, it was one of the points of division where you had, you know, this this iconic symbol, do we rebuild it and spend the money to do all of that? Do we, you know, pull it down and build something different? And that church was owned by, you know, the Anglican community, the Anglican Church, and yet the public had an opinion as to what should happen to that privately-owned church. So in many ways, you know, the conversations continue and there’s a lot of rebuilding still to happen. I reckon probably a third of the central business district is still in that rebuild process. But there’s a lot of I don’t know, this is- I don’t think it’s reckoning? You walk in and it takes a bit of re-bonding with all these places. So you know, when you’ve lost a lot of places that have layers of meaning and significance for you and you get these shiny new glass or steel kind of buildings, it takes a little bit of of building the memories again and building the layers of meaning. So I think that is still happening. And I now walk into after years of our central business district, was roped off for three years, right? Before we could even get back into it, before the rebuild really, really began. So I think there’s a lot of not just the physical rebuild, there’s a lot of, you know, recreating those psychological layers in significance with the city that we now go in. And I, I feel the buzz when I go home and the energy of the city again, which was missing for so long, which is, you know, just so amazing and and probably areas that were revitalized that desperately needed it in the city and there’s so much that is better as a result you know and I’m always that person that can see both sides because I can also see the missed opportunities that we missed in terms of part of our recovery journey. But I’m really hope-filled, in terms of, you know, what is what is emerging for sure.
00;36;38;09 – 00;36;45;25
That is great. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Is there anything you’d like to add or anything that we’ve missed in our two episodes?
00;36;45;27 – 00;36;53;12
I’m- I don’t think so. I think this has been yeah, it’s been fantastic! It’s been really vivid jaunt down memory lane, for sure.
00;36;53;15 – 00;37;21;11
Well, thank you. We’ve learned a lot and I’m glad we could share that with our listeners. And Jolie, I wish you the best and I’m hoping that your your former city you now live in Denver. Your former city- I wish them all the best because this is a long road and it’s a they will recover. They will recover and hopefully come out better. And and all your citizens as well. Thank you.
00;37;21;13 – 00;37;22;14
Absolutely. Thank you, Rick!
00;37;22;14 – 00;37;49;17
Jolie, thanks for joining us today! You can find more information about overcoming challenges on all of our podcasts. To hear more episodes of OnTopic with Empathia, visit our website, www.empathia.com. Follow us on social media @Empathia, and subscribe to OnTopic with Empathia to hear new episodes as soon as they go live. I’m Rick Hoaglund- Thanks for listening to OnTopic with Empathia!