In a crisis, we need to create and access meaningful, relational and supportive networks. We recognize that the “natural” and human-made disasters we face do not impact everyone equally, but amplify inequities and structural deficiencies that were already present. We recognize that “crisis” is a constant state of being for many communities in the United States. Times of disaster exacerbate already-fragile systems of support and resources, and can be used to displace vulnerable communities and stifle demands for justice and equity.
In this particular time of social isolation, our relating is now mediated by computers, phones, and tablets. Supportive relations and communication can be advanced digitally when we have the relational and technical competencies to do so. Technology provides opportunities for adult education, peer support, and platforms for collective action that aid in mitigating isolation, facilitating mutual aid, and advancing our ability to envision and actualize individual and social transformations.
The online Survival and Resilience School will be a support system for health and well-being, it will be a resource for news and education about public health issues, it will be a place to connect organized and unorganized people who are disproportionately at risk of compromised health, safety, and social and economic wellbeing, and it will be a place to create and put forward initiatives for collective action for a better more just and sustainable society.
The School will be a building block of individual and social resilience in this COVID-19 disaster and future disasters that create their own distinct forms of isolation and diaspora. It will build a major neglected facet of the dominant approach to disasters in the United States: “disaster community organizing” grounded in values of justice, equity, inclusion, and sustainability. It is predicated on the belief that survivors impacted by disaster must sustain a seat at the decision-making table as equal partners in preparation, response, mitigation, and recovery.