King County, Shakespeare embrace crisis as opportunityBy mmurdoch | March 8th, 2009 | Category: Politics, Society |
By Sound News Reporter Maggie Murdoch
King County sees the climate and economic crises we now face in the holistic sense of the word crisis. While linguists debate the truth behind the common saying that the Chinese character for crisis is made up of the characters for danger and opportunity, King County’s Director of Strategic Planning Jim Lopez believes that this approach can lead to “broad, meaningful, and lasting social change.”
At the “Curriculum for the Bioregion” conference held Friday in Tacoma, Lopez addressed a room full of higher educators eager to prepare their students for a changing world.
He began with a quote from Shakespeare’s Caesar that poetically illustrated how opportunities must be seized or they will be lost forever:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and miseries.
On such a full sea we are now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Continuing, Lopez spoke optimistically about the prospects of addressing climate change, by adapting to the changes that are already occurring and mitigating future emissions. “Climate touches everything,” which, according to Lopez, is its “true advantage.”
“Perhaps climate change presents us with unprecedented opportunity to connect with each other.”
He called this the “power of connectivity” and said that King County–or any other government, community, or institution–must put this principle into action if society is to meaningfully respond to climate change or the economic crisis.
“We have to think of ourselves in ways that are bigger than what we do, and if you do that you will meet folks on the road doing the same thing, as I have, and discover the true power of collective action.”
“We have to…embrace a culture that rewards all innovative action, embrace a culture in a time of change that is going to be receptive of failure…catalytic social change is not easy. And the opportunity part is here.”
So, even as King County Executive Ron Sims, Lopez’s boss, heads to the “other” Washington to work for the Obama administration during this difficult time, he leaves behind inspiring, enthusiastic, and competent people like Mr. Lopez. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but there seem to be clear similarities between Lopez’s message of connectivity and Obama’s message of service, individual involvement, and hope.
“We’ve experienced great trials before,” Obama said in his March 7 weekly radio and video address. “And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper — to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do.”
Lopez reiterates this message, saying that “broad, meaningful, lasting social change is about commitment and…that is a core principle we have to carry collectively as we move forward” and think about “climate prosperity as economic prosperity.”
For a host of information about how King County is working on climate change, check out their webpage here.
Maggie Murdoch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org