On March 11 2011 overwhelming and incomprehensible disaster struck the northeast coast of Japan. Life for those in the region would never be the same. This book is about the awakening that follows disaster. About the minutes and months and years that come after now. It is about what happens when we're smacked on the side of the head and open our eyes startled out of the trance in which we have been living our days. It is about the opportunities always present often invisible to create the lives we want now.
AfterNow chronicles the author's journey with the Japanese people over 6 years -- his own story of awakening after plunging into this disaster and the stories from people who found where to take their first step and the next. It offers the tools and processes and worldview people discovered to create what comes after now. It is built around two big ideas. The first is that after disaster we find our way forward together. We come awake together. Disaster obliterates the past plunges the present into chaos and cocoons the future. We need each other to see and build the new.
The second idea is that we don't have to wait for the tragedy of disaster to make the communities and lives we want. We can engage each other with respect curiosity and generosity and begin to co-create what we want now. We live in a period of precipitous unpredictable change. The book is for those who want to make this time more livable and less insane. In Japan and all over the world we are living in the messy middle where old forms are falling apart and new possibilities are in early stages. The ground is pulled out from under us on a regular basis. Our work right now is to learn to coexist with the messiness. We need to keep trying things to keep learning. We need to remain focused on our purpose and follow the braided strand of intention and surrender as we find our way forward. embracing radical uncertainty showing up as fully as we can each moment each breath.
Bob Stilger PhD is an activist-scholar who explores social change leadership and community building. In the mid-seventies he founded one of the early community development corporations in the Northwest and served as Executive Director for 25 years. Northwest Regional Facilitators was recognized for the excellent work it did to help people live better lives but Bob was troubled by how the number of people needing help just kept growing. What made enough of a difference he wondered to actually make a difference? That question propelled him into a PhD program in Learning and Change in Human Systems at CIIS in the mid-nineties and by 2000 he had stepped outside of NRF to found New Stories and to join the leadership of The Berkana Institute. For 10 years his work was mostly with people in the Global South -- India Pakistan Zimbabwe South Africa Brazil Mexico -- to learn about the leadership and practices needed to create healthy and resilient communities. In 2010 he was invited to bring this work to Japan -- a cultural and spiritual home since his year as a student in 1970-71. A year later when the Triple Disasters struck on March 11 2017 Bob was called into deep service to the people of Japan. The popular Japanese edition of When We Cannot See the Future Where Do We Begin was published by Tokyo's Fiji Press in June 2015.