The Stormwatch Project

Lodges and Community Organizations Preparing for the Future

Stormy Weather

Most communities in North America can expect to face at least one natural disaster in the next ten to twenty years. Many communities have to deal with economic troubles driven by business cycles, plant closures, and the vagaries of the global economy. And outside forces ranging from climate changes to increasingly unstable energy prices are beginning to affect people all around the world. As the old curse has it, we live in interesting times.

The half century that followed the end of World War Two, compared with other historical periods, was an era of unusual prosperity and stability.  It was brought about by the combination of many different factors. Unfortunately, many of those factors no longer apply today. Even more unfortunately, most people alive today have based their expectations on more than fifty years of relatively good times. Despite a growing number of storm warnings, few are prepared for the upheavals that were a part of everyday life in the not so distant past…and may be common again in the not so distant future.

Storm Shelters

One of the great lessons of hard times is that there’s strength in community. All over North America, and in many other lands, people who lived through more troubled times founded and joined lodges and other community organizations as a way to deal with adversity. (It’s worth recalling that in 1900, some 40% of the adult population of the United States belonged to at least one lodge.) Many of these same organizations are still in existence, provided with resources and traditional ways of dealing with hard times,
and ready to help a new generation deal with a period of renewed instability.

What can lodges and other community organizations do in the face of a troubled future? Plenty. By bringing people together, combining resources and knowledge, and working with each other in ways tested by hard times in the past, they can make it possible for people to survive crises that individual resources can’t surmount. They can deal with short-term problems like natural disasters by taking care of their own members and
freeing community resources to help others. They can deal with long-term problems like recessions by sharing resources and working together.

In the Great Depression of the 1930s, and in earlier times of crisis, lodge halls across North America were centers of community self-help and mutual assistance. This is a role that surviving lodges and community organizations of other kinds can take up again – if they are ready in time. Since every lodge or other community organization has a unique mix of resources, traditions, and possibilities, a single cut-and-dried formula won’t work for all. Instead, we offer a process – the Stormwatch Process – by which each organization can explore possible problems that the future may bring, assess the resources it can bring to bear on these problems, and come up with constructive, practical projects for dealing with the problems in advance.

What You Can Do

If you already belong to a lodge (or some other community organization),
please take the time to read the materials on this site. If they make sense
to you, consider passing them on to other members, and exploring the possibility
of starting the Stormwatch Program in your organization. This doesn’t necessarily
involve much time, money, or other resources; there are many important
steps that can be taken quickly and inexpensively by any group.

If you don’t belong to a lodge, or any other community organization, consider joining! The strength and support that comes from a vibrant community is a source of security that money can’t buy. With a modest investment of time, and the very low dues charged by most community organizations, you can help strengthen your community and build a better and less uncertain future for everyone. Look around in your local community, or visit our fraternal contact page for online access to many lodge organizations.