The Great Re-Connect: Launching The Community Renewal Centre

In recent weeks and months, COVID-19 has sounded eerie echoes of the 1918 and 1957 pandemics for those most oppressed and economically and socially marginalised. Poverty has proven -yet again- to be a co-morbidity alongside the virus; the economic impacts on people living in poverty have been, and are likely to continue to be, comparable to those of the 1933 Great Depression. While the trauma of structural racism and police killings reaffirm for us that the 1968 race riots, that saw so many America cities burn in the heat of racial injustices, were a cry for freedom, that to this day, has largely gone unheard. For all those emotionally, economically and physically crushed by these realities, George Floyd’s last words: “I can’t breathe”, have become a deep and excoriating lament at how seemingly little progress we have made in the name of civil rights and social and economic justice across the world.

Of course, we have made some progress in some areas. The 1918 pandemic claimed the lives of 50 million people and Five hundred million people became infected (one-third of the world’s population for that time). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the 1957 pandemic claimed the lives of more than 1.1 million people. Certainly, where public health advice has not been undermined by political ideologies and grandstanding, much has been learned in the intervening period about how best to promote population health in times of severe crisis. Kudos is due in great measure to citizens and professionals alike who contributed to the wellbeing of their communities at a very high emotional cost to themselves and their families.  It is also clear that as further waves of the virus manifest the death toll is greatest where equity is lowest.

As institutions hit the inevitable limits of their capacities in the face of COVID-19, the gifts of communities began to reveal themselves. As we move forward, it feels as though we are searching for answers to questions we have yet to figure out. As we live into a more pandemic conscious future; can we do so in a way that promotes population health and health equity for all? Can we find ways of being generative and restorative while not being passive and complicit in the face of structural racism? Can we go beyond crisis management and harm reduction towards community renewal, while remaining safe? Can we renew our local economies and ensure that everyone has a sufficient economic floor so that they do not have to choose between their lives and their livelihoods? Can we halt planetary ecocide? Can we welcome the unwelcome and accept that an authentically shared future means giving up privileges that we have assumed are our birthright, but that we have received at the expense of our fellow citizens and our planetary home?

These are big questions, and they are the questions that we at The Community Renewal Centre (CRC) wish to “learn into” with your support. The CRC is, for now, an eLearning Platform that works to three assumptions:

  1. Community connections are the hammock within which we will prevail and out of which we will emerge into a preferred (more just and equitable) future.
  2. Neighbourhoods and other such small bounded places are the primary unit of sustainable change.
  3. We have what we need to address the challenges and create the possibilities of now and the future, if we productively and justly connect what we have.

The CRC recognises the significant issues of social, economic and political fragmentation that have contributed to so many of the issues we are facing, and that is why at our launch on July 29, 1900 (GMT +1) we are inviting you to join us to watch the movie/documentary: “The Great Disconnect”. The movie documentary was the brainchild of Tamer Soliman, who will also be joining us on the night for a panel discussion after the movie. The panel will be moderated by Sacha DeWolfe and will include many diverse community voices from around the world, who will share their reflections on “the great disconnect”, and what they believe we need to do to build enduring movements towards “the great re-connect”.

You can sign up to join us at the movie, and find out more about it and us here, and here’s a clip from “The Great Disconnect” to whet your appetite:

We hope you’ll come share some popcorn and searching conversations with us, as we build our resolve and solidarity towards ever-deepening and hopeful community renewal.

Cormac Russell (Nurture Development) & Colleen Quinn (Director of the Community Renewal Centre)

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