Act: Inspiration

What Could Possibly Go Right?

June 23, 2020

“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 in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat.” Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

Last night, in my village of 1000 people, on an island a hundred miles south of the Canadian border, the City Council passed a resolution to undo racism not just in policing but in all city activities. Just two years ago our largely white, older, privileged citizenry quashed a Sanctuary City resolution. Logical reasons were offered but underneath, and not well disguised, was a fear of undocumented immigrants disrupting our quiet lives.

What felt impossible and unthinkable became possible and real in my small community last night.

Is the tide turning? Has the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd disrupted the exhausted skirmish line between left and right, business and environment, quarterly earnings and long-term thinking? What is possible now that wasn’t just 6 months ago?

This question birthed my new podcast and video series, What Could Possibly Go Right? sponsored by Post Carbon Institute.

I’ve invited cultural scouts—a diverse set of long-term changemakers—to let us see, through their seasoned eyes, the landscape in front of us. If the wall of the old order is now showing cracks, where do they see glimmers of light?

We are not asking for glimmers of hope, as in a renewed sense that good, in the end, will prevail. Hope, like love, is complex. The definition might change over a lifetime of uneven results from dedicated work and partially realized dreams. Hope for changemakers is an act of imagination. It is generated daily through not giving in to despair and finding joy in the journey. It is moral action without expectation of results.

We are asking instead to see what is in the circle of light cast by our scout’s head lamps. Where do they see fertile ground, potent ideas, evidence of something fresh appearing out of the fog of confusion? We are looking for emergent stepping stones, be they policies, or stories, or alliances, or strategies, or movements on the rise.

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The pandemic cast us into uncertainty and confusion. No one knows how this will shake out. Or if we are simply in for one seismic event after another. Even with all the energy unleashed since George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murders, we are still in a deep wood. The pandemic still sweeps across the world. Climate systems are still swinging into terrifying territory. #Metoo didn’t fix the patriarchy. Fragile global supply chains no longer provide security. It’s a hot mess out there and in here, but a new energy is being released. Our cultural scouts reveal what we can augment with our words and work.

Among our guests this season are Saru Jayaraman, Bill McKibben, Carolyn Raffensperger, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Ocean Robbins, Tim DeChristopher, Nina Simons and Susanne Moser, with another half dozen to come.

Personally, I find every interview surprising, fascinating, heartening, and clarifying. Each one is just 20 minutes and gets right to the heart of the matter. What could possibly go right? How would you answer that question?


Vicki Robin

Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer, speaker, and host of the What Could Possibly Go Right? podcast. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). And author of Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking Penguin, 2013), which recounts her adventures in hyper-local eating and what she learned about food, farming, belonging, and hope. Vicki has lectured widely and appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America,” and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and “Morning Edition.” She has also been featured in hundreds of magazines including People Magazine, AARP, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, Newsweek, Utne Magazine, and the New York Times. She currently lives on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound and is active in her community on a range of social and environmental issues including affordable housing, local food, and community investing. For fun, she is a comedy improv actress, sings in a choir, gardens, and nurtures a diverse circle of friends.

Tags: building resilient societies, changemaking, social change