By Colin Craig, DPC Coach in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland
Well, what a year 2020 has been. It just never ever seemed to let up. A year ago, Jaap and I were all set to head out to Australia to run a DPC programme out there. As the time to travel came closer, the fires were increasingly out of control and threatening the very area we were to travel into. Should we travel or not? Would the programme even be able to run? It seemed like any answer we came to, changed from moment to moment. In the end and to cut that long story short, the programme was postponed for a week and the venue shifted to Canberra. So, we did travel out and what an incredible experience it was working with the Campfire Co-operative and their networks. From its outset DPC had carried an explicit concern about how it could support the ever-growing challenge of climate change. Well, now we were in the direct reality of its impact and to witness just some if the devastation to lives, wildlife and nature was profound. The counterbalance to this was the joy we had in working with so many committed and courageous people out there. We left with a hope that Campfire could become a new DPC Hub out there over the coming years.
Flying back, rumours of something called a Coronavirus were beginning to circulate. Boris Johnson had also signed off a transition agreement for the Brexit. Something I am profoundly disappointed by. So that was the start. Unfortunately, 2020 (and now even the start of 2021) just never lightened off since.
In early February, Jim Hyde (the former Chief of Police from Antioch, California) and I had an opportunity to further present the work we are undertaking with Fryshuset (our DPC Hub Partner in Sweden). Together Fryshuset and I made lots of plans and developed more ideas on how we could continue expanding our DPC trainings. I was delighted and optimistic for 2020. Jim and I headed for home for a debrief in Northern Ireland.
So much for optimism! The reality of the impact and threat of COVID-19 soon became clearer. By March everywhere was suddenly going into various states of lockdown. All of our proposed DPC programmes cancelled one by one.
On a personal note, alongside all this crazy stuff there was also an unexpected joy. Just before the first major proposed lockdown was to commence, our eldest son Ben and his partner Anya with our newly arrived grandson Rowan came to join us in our own Kenbane/Ballycastle bubble. What we thought would be just a few weeks turned into some two and a half months. We saw Rowan grow from baby to toddler. It was such a wondrous time. In our little “bubble” we had the daily joy of seeing a young life engage with the world around him with total disregard for all the surrounding madness of our fractured world and the constant update of the endless news channels.
Next came the discovery of something called Zoom. Those who know me, know how brilliant I am with all the new technological developments in our world… Yet the advent of our enforced use of Zoom also created some new insights and interesting challenges regarding the potential evolution of our DPC work. One question arose again and again:
“Could we creatively and constructively develop some of our DPC modules into an online version that could still offer value to those who could no longer get to our normal training programmes?”
Under the guidance of ‘the younger generation’, the news is that I have been working hard to do just that. To help push this on, I have been working at distance with Fryshuset and we hope to begin piloting most of Module 1 (Understanding Conflict and Change) in the early new year if possible. So, to the DPC world, I am about to become more familiar with the joys of Zoom etc. than I ever expected or in truth ever wished to become. Perhaps there is still the hope that you can, in fact, ‘teach this old dog some new tricks’.
Since I started writing this reflection in mid-December we have managed a lot of useful work on building up our online version. We are now close to being able to ‘pilot’ it sometime in the spring period. If it can trundle down the runway and manage to fly then I do think it can and will serve a real purpose. I do remain of the view that it will and should not try to replicate the intensity, intimacy and depth of collective learning that each of us has experienced within our usual DPC Facilitator training programmes. As ever the only way to find out will be to try it….and we will! Watch this space!
It is now mid-January 2021. I should have had this completed and sent off for the Newsletter two weeks ago. I am not a pessimist by nature or inclination. However, I do try to be something of a realist and to try to speak out when needed. I don’t know when, where and how I or you will be able to draw on our DPC tools and networks for support over this coming year, but in these first thirteen days of 2021, the tensions and challenges the world is facing into are growing. The risks for violence and increasing fracturing are growing. For many of us, our work will necessarily call us into trying to mitigate and intervene on these many points of crises. When I recently spoke to Jim Hyde, he was clear in his concern that the deep fractures that are ever more manifest in the USA will require years of healing before reconciliation will emerge. That is just one aspect of those fractures we face into.
You are needed in this world. Your gifts and abilities continue to be a real source of hope and optimism that we can learn from to transcend these divisions and build a more interdependent and equitable world. If I can support you in some way, I will do my best to do just that. In such times, we will need each other, all the more, in order to keep going.
View from our COVID bubble in Kenbane/Ballycastle. Photo by Rachel Craig.