How 45 minutes can change everything

Climate emergency

Outside my office-studio is a mango tree. She’s pretty old and craggy limbed. Fourteen months ago, her branches were stripped bare.

It was a warm October afternoon. We’d had a few warnings about freak storms. Then a supercell hailstorm hit our beachside suburb on the mid-north coast of NSW. It got so loud I hid under my desk – until I realised water was pouring through the roof in three places. Our nearby shopping centre roof also collapsed as golf ball sized hail pelted down (see 7News below).

It’s the first time I’ve been in an area declared a disaster. And the weirdest thing? When I stepped outside of my studio, I didn’t recognise where I was. In 45 minutes, everything had changed.’

Climate emergency
Climate change
Climate change
Our suburban street had become a snowfield. A neighbour’s son, shirtless and in board shorts, was using a shovel to dig out his dad’s pickup truck from thick ice. The leaves on the trees were shredded. The poor birds. My vege patch was a bunch of sticks. My husband’s car, a right-off. I remember looking around me, and thinking, I don’t know where I am. The locals and shoppers in this 7NEWS report clearly felt something similar. (Although in Aussie style, surfers were soon snowboarding on the nearby Sawtell Beach!)

Welcome to my new newsletter: The Regenerative Leader.

Stories about people + business doing things differently.

It’s taken over a year for everything to get replaced and fixed. Both our roofs have been replaced. And we’re lucky, we were insured. I’ve heard that people sheltering during cyclones feel a similar sort of dislocation – obviously on a more acute, terrifying and catastrophic scale. Those 45 minutes were so disruptive that something shifted inside of me. I’d been making changes in my life and work for at least three years. But this was a catalyst.

In storytelling terms, a lived experience is what I call a “shift moment“. It changes our narrative and how we make meaning of our lives. This is what Regenerative Storytelling can offer. A new language to understand what’s happening and a new way to respond.

I wish it was as easy as flicking a switch.

But it’s not, of course. It’s about incremental changes, internally and externally. In slightly laborious language (which I promise I will limit), it’s about “building capacity”.

This is what you can expect from my Regenerative storytelling newsletter:

Stories that illustrate the small steps (and the occasional leap) to help us all adapt to our rapidly heating world. Stories of leadership in likely and unlikely places. Some might alarm you, others will entertain, inspire and encourage. Together, we are finding a new language for this time.

A couple of weeks ago, a year after the hailstorm, our mango tree suddenly grew leaves. It was almost as if they were sprouting before our eyes. The birds have come back. Birds that we never saw before.

While nature (and us) can regenerate fast… can we do it fast enough?