Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Reverend knows how to thank his donors

It is not often you get beautiful, heartfelt stories from passionate people in our sector.  We all work hard to make stories wonderful and involving but they seem to come naturally to many Clergymen, but Rev Graham Long bashes these out quite regularly apparently.  I was forwarded this from a member of the ‘Inner Circle’.  This is a lovely, involving thank you letter.

See what you think, and read my comments at the bottom.

Dear Inner Circle,

Just now there was a woman standing in front of our Op Shop. Although she had a blouse on, her arms were not in the sleeves which caused the blouse to be worn more like a scarf, leaving her upper body entirely exposed. As I moved toward her to see if I could perhaps find her something to wear she bent down as if she was picking up a baby and laid it on the seat out front. By the time I reached her, she was nursing an invisible baby. A homeless fellow said to her, "Luv, if you put your arms in your sleeves you'll be able to do what you're doing without showing the world what you've got." She politely thanked the homeless guy and put her arms in her sleeves and then resumed feeding her invisible baby. I backed off because we had a couple of highly skilled female staff around and they didn't need my help. As I plough through this day however I can just imagine the kind of heartache that this dear lady has brought to us today. I'm so thankful for so many skilful and safe pairs of hands around here.

Robyn and I celebrated 41 years of marriage this week and in my romantic style, I worked late on the night in question. Yesterday at lunch, some staff members called us both up to the roof where we found a table set for two, with candles and a menu to rival the best restaurant in town. On the table was a card from our support team who had decided to surprise us in this way. There are some beautiful people in the world.

Last weekend was spent with my Mum in a dementia ward. The ward could be called "Hogans Heroes" because escape was on the mind of most of the residents, including my Mum. At one stage Mum introduced me to a lady who just needed to get out to check on her house that was quite near the nursing home. She said that a gentleman who was a resident had a car that was just in the car park so that all I had to do was let them out to get on with their business. The gentleman with the car appeared with his shoes on the wrong feet which didn't give me confidence in this particular plan. My dear Mum is well enough to know that she's locked in but not well enough to live anywhere else. The Southern Cross Oaklands Park Lodge in South Australia provides the most fabulous care for Mum and all of their residents. My sister, Heather, who lives near-by, carries a heavy load of love which she embraces like the five foot nothing giant that she is.

Thank you to the many who came to hear the Salem International Choir from Chicago last week. I thought we'd have a success if 200 people showed up. We had 400 seated and 160 people standing plus the choir which was another 80 people. What a once in a lifetime opportunity that we shared together! What an outpouring of joy and love! I wrote to the Pastor this week saying, "I think our faith is not taught but caught and I'm sure you left behind a pretty serious infection." I will treasure that gift for the rest of my days.

I was talking to a woman this morning who is living in a bus shelter. She said, "There isn't much privacy but I have great access to public transport." Meeting the odd saint like this helps to keep my petty whinging in check.

How glad are we to have you as part of our inner circle? Plenty glad!


Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

For sure, this will make you feel glad to be part of this inner circle.  I guess the technology (training, database or equipment – not sure which) needs a little help though:  My Inner Circle friend has a name; why is it not personalised?  And then it could have been great to add a variable acknowledging whether she went to the Salem International Choir or not. 

But, is better to get a non-personalised but beautiful personal email like this than a technically clever personalised but dull non-personal email isn’t it?  But imagine getting a fully personalised, beautiful personal email too!  I do hope the good Reverend gives some techy person a holy tap on the shoulder to make this real!

PHOTO: Reverend Graham Long

(Thanks to Wayside Chapel for permission to reproduce the whole letter – if you want to receive lovely emails like this become a member of the ‘inner circle’ here.)

Sean Triner

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Even super huge clouds have a silver lining

Superstorm Sandy has wreaked havoc on more people in the USA than live in England.

My thoughts are with those people, strangers and friends from the Carribean through USA and into Canada who have lost loved ones, homes businesses and communities.

As I write this the media and still showing dramatic images, lots of sad stories - but also lots of gorgeous 'human spirit' bits that we always see after natural disasters.

It must be very hard to see any positive outcomes from such natural fury but I am going to try.

Climate Change
There is no way anyone can say that Sandy was a direct consequence of human caused climate change.  But there is plenty of evidence that the frequency and severity of such storms is expected to increase due to climate change.

As New Scientist reported...

Such devastation could increase in the future: climatologists say that slow-moving storms like Sandy will become more common as climate change increases the occurrence of "blocking patterns" that slow down weather systems.
"We expect that hurricanes may move more slowly in the future than they do now," says Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Slow-moving hurricanes dump all their rain onto a smaller area, causing severe flooding, with coastal regions taking the brunt. "This shifts rainfall towards the coasts, and increases it at the same time," he says.
Even though there are still people who don't 'believe in climate change', most will begin to hedge their bets.  Really, the whole world needs the US to 'believe in climate change' if we are going to ever take serious global action.

Tragic climate events - even if not directly connected - can bring awareness of the awesome powers, and having them not just on our doorstep, but in our home is a true slap in the face.  

US high school teacher, Greg Craven, got it right with his fabulous website, book What's the worst that could happen? and great video "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See".  He takes a logical approach to the disagreement about climate change.

As you can see from his little sketch below he is advocating action whether you believe in climate change it or not.  He assumes action on climate change (scenario A) costs money.
I think that Sandy will help push more people who are sitting on the fence into deciding that the risk of a longer depression is better than the risk of a global catastrophe.

Here is his logic:

For all of us, wherever we live, the US economy is important.  Sandy has caused billions of dollars of damage in the USA.  But Americans are resilient, tough and community spirited.  Despite economic woes, donations are flying in from everywhere and the rebuilding cost will huge - but a great stimulus package.  New jobs will be created, business come into being and old businesses rebuilt.  I have no idea if this will be a net positive to the economy.  I am no expert on this kind of Keynesian thinking - I am not even sure it is Keynesian; but there will definitely by a great 'pulling together' spirit as we saw in Australia after our recent floods and fires.

Whatever happens, this storm will hit the insurance companies.  Whilst they will put up premiums, there is only so much of that they can do there.  However, it is the impact of this storm on insurance companies that could have the biggest and most important impact on the future of our planet.

The Insurers and Climate Change
Insurance companies 'believe in climate change' - they see it as a serious threat.  Back in 2007, the boss of the Reinsurance Association of America, Frank Nutter gave evidence at a select committee on energy independence and global warming "The insurance industry's financial interest is inter-dependent with climate and weather."

Andrew Castaldi, head of the catastrophe risk unit for the Swiss Re America Corp, said "We believe unequivocally that climate change presents an increasing risk to the world economy and social welfare."

Let's hope that since common sense and science have not created the action we need on climate change, this tragic catastrophe and the economic imperatives of the insurance companies will help push through some change that would position the United States as world leader on action on climate change. 

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here