Welcome to Reflections from the Mirror Project

This space—Reflections from the Mirror Project—is to capture how the conversations in the last year and 2019 are shaping the shared narrative emerging out of California’s experiences of health, wellness, and well-being.  Hopefully, questions that will help leadership training, support new policy ideas, and create new collaboration models will be a part of the sharing of conversations.

We wait to see what the journey presents as people, places, and insights begin to merge in this unique and vibrant state, California.

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Reflections in the Mirror

Mirror Project Report
This is a collection of conversations and images of Californians who are supporting humanity in many different ways, yet they all have something in common.  That is the deep understanding that we are inextricably interconnected to one another and our ecology.  These individuals work in ways that impact communities beyond California, and in many instances, beyond this nation.  They exemplify selflessness, commitment to improving the chances for equity and justice in choosing leadership, developing public policy,  and creating bridges between and among communities that must be seen and heard. The cover collage is of the youth who are part of the new generation of health organizers and advocates at the CA Endowment.

View or download a copy here (1mb PDF)

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What Does this Pandemic Mean For Change In the World?

Angela maskedMarch 16, 2020 is when the announcement was made at Cal State University, Los Angeles – the campus was shutting down due to the pandemic.

The delayed recognition of the seriousness of the virus that was called the “novel corona virus”, has meant exposures to hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom seem to have been infected with no impact on health; others of whom have suffered debilitating conditions and sometimes (too often) death.  As of today, the death count in Los Angeles is:  7,118.

The initial campaign that directed people to “shelter-in” at home was taken seriously from what we could see in Los Angeles – for about a month. 

Then, the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 created a spike that could not be foreseen in March.  The images depicted a problem that has been understood and well known to many for generations.  Now, in the center of movements for individual and community accountability, institutional accountability, and greater government leadership at every level – local, regional, national, and global – another worldwide crisis has gripped human civilization.  Climate change?  Oh, yes – that continues to plague our planet, too.

The shared experiences that grow out of our connections via world conflict, world finance, world climate challenges, and world hunger and violence – are now very well understood by people engaged in their communities.  It was challenging to face the conditions that existed before the pandemic and before the experience of witnessing yet another dark-skinned man killed at the hands of police.  But as things have unfolded, the challenges also were revealed – multi-fold.  Indeed, one might suggest the infinite extent of the harm – cause/effect, cause/effect, cause/effect is being manifest.

How have human beings responded?

Many looked to the experts and leaders who have chosen to take such roles in our societies.  Sadly, the current conditions are such that experts cannot deliver, without politics, their knowledge and recommendations.  Leaders in politics must include in their calculations for maintaining authority and power, what part of truth can be disclosed to the public.

The public, in the meantime, searches for the meaning of all that is unfolding so rapidly in so many directions. 

MasksWhat can be done to care for family and friends to prevent damage to health and spirit?  What can be done to contribute to society to stop the fear and anger that naturally arises when major shifts keep happening?  Where can one find trust and stability when the swirl events that hit individual and communal life is so great?

Oh, were you looking for the answers to these questions?  For now, there seem to be either a multitude of answers or none that make sense.

One place to look – is to yourself.  Are you well?  Have you yet recognized that only you can be the source for answers to these enormous questions?  And if you need help, have you asked?  The things that keep us feeling secure rest in our relationships – to self, to others, to community, to spirit – there are currencies beyond money.  Now is the time when we should be considering how to cultivate this form of survival, growth, and development in this time of complete breakdowns and uncertainty.  No one is “in control”; which means we are all in control – each and every single person.

The pandemic has delivered us to a moment of transformation and recognition that the only means to survival:  stop, recognize things overlooked, feel where your body is now, realize your capacity, and exercise patience so that a force larger than your calculated intent can guide.  Sit, breathe, enter the unknown.

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Anything Can Happen Out of This Chaos

out-of-this-chaos

In this moment of our encounter with eternity, the Gift of Compassion has been given the chance to see the limits of our material existence. As a worldwide pandemic sweeps across the globe at the same time climate change is pushing human beings to flow to unknown places that might offer safety and stability – this nation was confronted yet again with the reality of brutality in the hands of law enforcement as the killing of George Floyd was captured on videotape as he gasped for air and called for his mother in the final minutes of his life and existence on this planet.

How far have we come as we sit in the year 2020?  Is this a moment of collapse or is this an opening that could allow for a new opportunity to realize the highest aspirations and goals for security, peace, and compassion?

The natural world has been turning and is practically upside down.  The data are showing unprecedented loss of species, both flora and fauna.  New and unpredictable changes in weather patters are destroying the ability of farming societies to survive, causing a migration of populations larger than any seen in generations. 

And we are beginning to see the deep interconnectedness of all beings and systems.  As the pandemic has required nations to take extraordinary steps to contain a little understood virus, all social systems have been rocked.  The political, financial, judicial institutions that once represented a means for society to offer a framework for stability – are all in chaos now.

Best efforts are being used to work with inter-disciplinary knowledge as in health research informing policy affecting employment and economic development and housing.  There are continuing needs for meeting the needs of the chronically ill or those in need of emergency medical care; and as the crisis of COVID-19 appears to not to respond dramatically to all social restrictions being imposed (and now debated), the world awaits the discovery of a vaccine so that things can return to some semblance of “normal” life.

What is hard to imagine is that there will be no return to the kind of life that existed before the novel virus appeared.  Yet, people are actually living with changes that are slowly and surely being required to adopt, if one wishes to remain in good health. 

There is no question, that a consciousness is being raised about the importance of demonstrating consideration rather than selfishness (wearing a mask as a matter of consideration for others, not self-defense).  People are aware of social distancing, whether at a market or in the streets or at worship to support a new social contract about unwitting disease transmission.  Children and parents are having a new series of question and answer sessions from personal health behaviors to the role of police in our communities.  Employers are thinking about how best to ensure a safe and healthy workplace as furloughs are lifted and rehiring is initiated.  More people are realizing that technology can be extremely effective in meeting the essential needs of clients where service is the “product” to be delivered.  In short, we are already “in it”.  The “it” is change. 

Finally, there is a moment here, when the chaos has truly opened up new ways thinking, being, and acting.  How the myriad of changes underway will ultimately settle into what we know as “normal” going forward is an invitation to manifest and correct the infinite ways in which we made choices that led us to this day.

It’s fascinating to realize that when the world is upside down, another way of experiencing it is not to be fearful, but to note the different perspective and feeling that arises.  Rather than fear the change, realize that change is constantly happening – just as it is in this moment – and with the change, is an opportunity to choose new points of view, new practices, and new tools to be used in the service of our collective  well-being and common future.  Displace the fear with curiosity and creativity.  It offers almost anything to happen for the good, out of this chaos.

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