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Community, Culture, and Reality

by Patricia Frame on March 24, 2011

‘‘Japanese tableware’‘

On my mind

The news was shocking to wake up to: a huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The images have filled my days since. I am amazed by the strength of the survivors.

And when it all becomes too much, I walk into my dining room to look at my own small survivors – a few pieces of blue and white Imari-ware from 200+ years ago.

These dishes, which I do use regularly, once sat on a family or perhaps several families’ tables until I found them on my visit to Tachikawa long ago. I am now their guardian; they are now my reminder of strength over time.

I am buoyed in my hopes for the Japanese people by their long traditions of community and by their history of resilience in the face of major changes.

Yet, I watch our media coverage and am appalled at the lack of any scientific understanding that is being so regularly displayed.

I know so many Americans are innumerate and do not understand even basic science. I am a history major myself. But somehow I expect better of journalists.

Given the lack of such knowledge or the inability to convey basic understanding in a non-sensational manner, I wonder how we will face the actual potential for natural disasters in our own country. And for manmade ones too!

Japan has made a huge investment and effort to prepare its buildings and its people for earthquakes and tsunamis. The scale of the tragedy and the swaying of skyscrapers in Tokyo actually attest to this.

Far fewer of our buildings would still be standing. We are nowhere near as prepared and a smaller event here would have larger consequences.

What should you and your business take from this tragedy?

1. Do you have a personal emergency plan at home? A business continuity plan at work?

If not, see these resources from Ready.gov (personal) and the SBA (business).

2. Do your plans assume the use of much technology? What other options could you use?

Cell phones and web access failed in 9/11, cell phones and devices needing power failed in Snowmaggedon – as well as Japan.

3. Community preparedness is critical.

What are your state and local governments doing? What should the federal government be doing? What will you do to influence or assist in needed efforts?

4. “IRL” is still critical. Before the emergency, how strong were your connections to family and community?

If your family is like mine, it is spread all over. How are your connections?

It is not just a question of who might care for the elders and children. It is part of developing your personal and family resilience – being supportive all along has been proven to help.

Who are your neighbors? What do they need? What do they help with? Again, it is not just about emergency preparedness, it is about the personal and community connections which help us all cope and thrive.

Send a donation, say a prayer for the Japanese.

And then decide what you can do for yourself, your business, and your personal world.

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Image © Patricia Frame, used with permission

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced Human Capital issues speaker and management consultant. She founded Strategies for Human Resources to advise organizations facing organization and people challenges. Previously she designed and managed human resource functions for GE, Software AG, Maxwell Online, and others. A Wharton MBA and an Air Force veteran, she actively supports the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Check out her website, SHRinsight.com, for management and development articles.

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