Firm Foundations?

we built this city

I, like everyone else, have spent much of the last few days thinking about the earthquake in Japan.  We don’t know yet what the full extent of this tragedy will be and there are, even now, new stories unfolding which further illustrate the full magnitude of the events.

I think this is not the subject of a blog and neither should it be because I have not been there, I am not there.  I am here and all the stresses and strains of my life in business and in social enterprise particularly are placed into perspective by this experience.  But you wouldn’t be human if, bombarded as we are with the news every day, we didn’t stop to reflect.

Two things that really struck me today were a tweet and a story.  The tweet was, as by nature it has to be, short and to the point and it said ‘I am struck by the inexhaustible dignity of the people of Japan’.  The other was a radio broadcast that was talking about the fundamental building principles of Japanese building design – flexibility. Drawing on the environmental factors and centuries of experience, buildings were first made of bamboo.  They were made of bamboo because under extreme pressure it bends and doesn’t snap.  Every development in building since has built on these foundations and learned these lessons and so even now with so much acceleration and advance buildings are still designed to bend and not break.  I’m sure that during this natural disaster, these principles will have saved many countless lives.

And so I am left with this over riding image of great flexibility and great dignity.  I am humbled by and want to learn from these qualities, not to cope with the traumas that the people of Japan have had to, but to live with authenticity in my world of social enterprise. 

Perhaps if I am more flexible I will be more resilient and perhaps if I can flex I will be less stressed!  Either way there are lots of things that make me grateful at the moment.


About Sarah Dunwell

Sarah Dunwell is executive director of Arena Partners and has twenty years experience in the corporate and business sector. After a number of senior roles in customer service and retail management, Sarah led her own successful catering business and is experienced in business turn around and SME growth. Sarah has a particular interest in the role of robust business planning and development in the not-for-profit sector. Her passion lies in seeing social businesses grow successfully and sustainably through creating mature businesses that deliver strong social agendas.
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