Monday, June 29, 2009

Lessons from Greensburg

On Sunday 28th June, Bob and Ann Dixson addressed the Flowerdale community. Bob is the Mayor of Greensburg, a town that was devastated by a tornado in May 2007. Greensburg is two years into the recovery process and they are building back green.

Bob told us that Greensburg is a rural community, they are not your stereotypical "green" people, however, they have a long history of caring for the environment. They also believe that we need to leave behind something better for future generations. When they needed to rebuild their town they took the perspective of "what will future generations say in 100 years about the decisions we make today". Greensburg is rapidly proceeding to become the greenest town in America. They have an engaged community working together to rebuild.

The definition Greensburg uses for sustainability is:

Sustainable design “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs"

Bob stressed the importance of community in the recovery process. The spirit of neighbour helping neighbour, looking out for each other and especially helping those in need. Bob also talked about patience, making sure that options were considered before going too fsst and making wrong decisions.

Ann spoke about the emotional side of the recovery. Many people are stressed and emotions go up and down. The importance of understanding that sometimes people get angry about the situation and it projects onto those around them. Ann said that for many people it wasn't until the second year that the emotional burden started to take its toll.

For those in attendance I think the things that stood out were:

  • Bob and Ann's empathy and understanding, they lost all their possessions in the tornado
  • The way the community was involved in driving the outcomes for Greensburg and involved in creating their destiny
  • The inspiration that Greensburg provides particularly with the willingness to share and help others through what they have learned
  • The down to earth, rural community perspective. Very similar to Flowerdale
  • The way that young people in Greensburg have a real role and stake in the outcomes
  • The fact that some times you need to learn as you go
Bob also talked about accepting help and being a "gracious recipient". Many people are so busy helping others or feeling that there are those that need help more than they do. Others feel uncomfortable asking for help, they have been brought up with the view that you need to look after yourself. If help is available be a "gracious recipient".

We had lunch and Bob and Ann told us that the opportunity to come and meet the community of Flowerdale was important for them as part of their own personal recovery journey. They said the people of Flowerdale were "just like us". The opportunity to share their story and give hope to another community across the other side of the world helps them heal.

A huge thanks for Bob and Ann for coming to Flowerdale. Check out the Greensburg Website if you would like to know more.

1 comment:

  1. A great day thanks heaps for organising it Pete. One thing that stood out for me was when Anne spoke about celebrating achievements (no matter how big or small) as away of keeping peoples spirits alive in hard times -- she suggested something as small as getting plans drawn up is worth celecbrating



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