Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pagan Disaster Response- Together We Can!

There are moments in history that prompt changes. Within our Pagan community I believe we are experiencing such a moment. The disaster in the Philippines has brought to the surface the desire of Pagans to engage more effectively in humanitarian response. Our community faces the same obstacles as everyone else in terms of discernment of the best course of action. As a minority faith group we would like to collectively focus our giving on organizations that reflect our values and provide real relief to victims in an accountable and transparent way.

Today in the Philippines members of the local Pagan Federation are attempting to do something they have not engaged in before, namely disaster response. While I personally support their efforts, as a professional disaster responder I know the course of action they are taking is fraught with pitfalls and a steep learning curve.

If the Pagan community were to establish a standing cooperative response network our co religionists could have access to disaster professionals with extensive knowledge in the areas of planning, fundraising, logistics, inter NGO relations and health care response. Their efforts and the value of each dollar contributed would be multiplied. Such an effort would have to be cooperative among all the major Pagan organizations. Simply stated, none of our organizations alone have the depth of fundraising ability, trained responders or organizational expertise. Such an approach will require the setting aside of organizational ego and a focus on what serves humanity as a whole.

Being Pagan the organizational model for such a response network would look radically different from those developed by other faith groups. The modal would include:

A focus on service to all, not just co-religionists

Building webs of mutual support with the affected population, as rapidly as possible, turning over direct operations to local responders, while maintaining responsibility for accountability and transparency as related to funds and supplies.

Understanding that the reach of our mission will be limited to providing specific services to a specific area due to our knowledge that small mobile responses are the most effective means of providing effective relief in the early days of disaster.

The understanding that a direct response is not always the best form of support. The organization would provide well-researched recommendations for donations when direct response is not the best use of resources.

Some of the basics of such a model would include trigger points for cooperative activation, a board made up of representatives of major organizations, minimum training standards for all responders, an initial small fundraiser, commitments from organizations to give a pre determined amount when an activation is declared by the board and organizational commitments to engage fundraising efforts in member communities during any response.

This concept is in the contemplative stag, I urge you to provide ideas on how to make such an organization successful. At this time the best approach is to support these conversations in any way you can. Discuss this concept in your Pagan group. Post your positive ideas on how to make the concept work, make lists of interested individuals.  Share this post or write your own on the subject. Urge major Pagan organizations to come to the table to discuss this issue with out the need to be the “leading” organization. We all have something to contribute, Together We Can!


Jeffrey Cerneson said...

This is a great dialogue and one anyone interested in contributing should be involved in, I see no comments on his blog nor anyone taking this up. I agree that having a cooperative mindset so that we can all contribute in our own way meaningfully. However not having anyone or any one group lead leaves us all wondering what to do , how to start the dialogue and where.

Faith Martin said...

I honestly believe this is one of the greatest things I have read in a long time. Pagans are natural helpers and healers. Many of us have talked about wanting to help people in these and other situations but have feared or encountered resistance. This is a wonderful idea.

Joyce Stark said...

Check out CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Nationwide, free training sponsored by FEMA. You will learn many skills and learn how to be an asset to your community in case of disasters, help with Amber Alerts, search and rescue, etc.

beachrose said...

I have been a disaster services trainer and responder for over 20 years. I have worked hurricanes, floods, wildfires, plain/train crashes. etc. all over the United States. You can get training and learn procedures by taking classes from these organizations: CERT, SERT, FEMA and the American Red Cross.....none of these are faith take the training and learn the ropes ....and then take that knowledge and start your own relief operation. It is far more difficult then people think and extremely expensive to do.....but if you have the heart, the time and get the experience ...then go for it.

Pagan In Paradise said...

Agreed CERT is a good first step in learning about an effective disaster framework. I spent some time teaching CERT a couple of years ago. Beachrose, any intrest in participating with other disaster responders in building a Pagan framework? email me

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