Every once in a while, a book appears at the exact moment that humanity needs it. AfterNow is such a book. It shines light on the ways that we, as a civilization, are living in a trance, and how disaster can be our wake-up call. Yet, as Bob notes “Disaster changes everything. And it changes nothing.” How do we take our sacred moments of despair and use them to find our way back to a deeper, more authentic life — as individuals and as communities? Bob’s premise is that everything we need to face disaster is in our present moment. Filled with depth, beauty and the soaring of the human spirit, his stories call us to face forward into the great unknowable future together.
Impacts from disaster—environmental, political, economic—hold within them two distinct time horizons.
Time horizon one: the days just following a shocking event, when day-to-day life is disrupted and many people frequently experience the power of community coming together, being there for one another, facing hard circumstances with one another with integrity, care, and inspiring strength.
And then there is time horizon two: the long period after that window of grace, when exhaustion sinks in, disparate needs clash, and the circumference of care shrinks to "one's own," however the definition of one's own is determined. Grief, shock, and trauma impact our ability to interact with one another, care for ourselves, or build for our future. Without conscious and committed leadership in this time horizon, decay and further deterioration are the norm.
How do we nurture the conditions under which the second time horizon can be a time of uplift, creativity, connection, and building anew? Conditions that engage leadership throughout a community, not setting communities up to rely on hoped-for heroes to come to the rescue?
AfterNow shares principles and approaches for nurturing such conditions, showing what is possible when communities face their hardest moments together, for the long haul. AfterNow shows us that the work of preparing for disaster goes far beyond preparing just for the first time horizon of staying alive after a severe disruption, but working for a future we want to live FOR.
I am grateful for this timely work from Dr. Stilger.
If I could only have one book about leading social innovation on my shelf, AfterNow would be my choice. To read Bob Stilger’s stories is to sit next to a master practitioner — one who is both humble and generous with his teaching. AfterNow provides much more than a set of principles and methods for community-based change. It invites us into a way of being that unleashes hope, imagination, and resolve in the face of confusion and despair.”
So relevant, useful and a handbook for the end of empire. This book is invaluable in this time of serial disasters and tumult. Bob Stilger weaves his compassionate personal storytelling with skillful approaches to working with communities in shock and trauma. AfterNow shares useful practices and portraits of humble heroism. I felt grateful and moved by this witnessing of resilience following unspeakable loss.
In this book, Bob Stilger shares with us his unique journey. Through his eyes, we see extraordinary stories of ordinary people; he stood together with them in Japan after the 2011 disaster, and also in other places around the world. After disasters and tragedies, in despair, how did they take their step forward? It is no longer business as usual. Now the world can learn from their experiences -- and "we will find what's AfterNow together".
What an amazing journey. Bob Stilger provides us with a remarkable work. Part transformational theory; part disaster documentary; part memoir; and all deeply touching to the soul. Bob’s remarkable wisdom, born of years of experience facilitating systems change, comes through on every page. In addition, his deep and abiding by love for the Japanese culture also permeates the pages of this book. At this time in our collective history, we need Bob’s wisdom.
If you want a deeper understanding of the capacity of the human spirit and our ability to collectively engage in transformational change, here is your book. Thanks Bob.
Enspirited writing from Bob Stilger. While I see this book as a gift to the world, being currently in academia, I wish all students (and especially faculty) could read this. AfterNow brings up a core question of for what are we educating ourselves. Is it to continue on a path many of us do not really want? Then once we know that we want a different future, another difficult question is knowing where to begin. To answer these questions, Bob weaves in stories that embody the key messages in the book, while also giving hope—something much needed with so many un-enspirited stories in the world. At the same time, he combines his deep wisdom with practical advice. Building on his vast experience and knowledge of change, he brings together many approaches showing that they all have commonalities at a deep level: it begins with being present to what is emerging and then furthering that along collectively so as to create positive shared stories.
In a world of unprecedented change, Afternow provides an anchor and a practical guide to building communities that move forward and progress together. In Pakistan, we are faced with challenges including extreme poverty and water insecurity, gender inequality, terrorism, corruption- and many others. These issues are overwhelming at first glance- as are the issues and disasters that often occur in our personal lives and seem to take over. This book allows one to grapple with issues that seem large and unwieldy to begin with- and provides the tools create a specific action plan to move forward at a personal and at a Community level with great resilience.
In Bob Stilger’s beautifully crafted and life-affirming book, AfterNow, we hear the echo of the poet John Keat’s line: ‘There is nothing stable in the world; uproar’s your only music.’ We hear this music every time we are surprised by those many aspects of life that are not controlled by us. AfterNow guides us towards finding faith that even in the presence of harm; life knows what it is doing. Our encounter with the unknown is not only something to accept but to be sought after. By following the path through anxiety, grief, and sudden loss of place, life can be transmuted into something of beauty within which a deeper truth can be found.
A relevant, timely, and engrossing book. Bob Stilger has a gift for observing, asking questions, reflecting and synthesizing information and experiences. While this volume seems to represent an entire life's work, I'm certain that Bob still has many more lives and communities to touch. His work in Japan before and after the disasters of 3.11 offer wisdom, hope and a practical guide to surviving and thriving in our rapidly changing world. In just a few short weeks, After Now has become a trusted resource guide and reference. A remarkable blend of heart, head and honesty that reads like a powerful, gentle, engaging conversation.
This is a heartfelt guidebook for our tumultuous times. It’s not easy to think and behave in new ways when facing an unknown future. Working with Fukushima communities following Japan’s Triple Disaster, Stilger demonstrates the power of new stories rooted in an ecological worldview, where the healing power of community allows us not only to survive but to thrive. AfterNow is full of “skillful means” based on Bob's many years as a group facilitator. In this chaotic historical moment, everyone should study this artful manual for creating a positive future.
Bob Stilger has written a beautiful, insightful and thoroughly grounded guide for all of us in the process of co-creating the narratives we actually want to live into, and taking the next steps toward manifesting them. Chapter 10, on standing in the 'messy middle', is a wonderful, honest summation...
Bob Stilger's new book 'After Now' has been published. Its a great book based on Bob's experiences in Japan in dealing with crisis. He tells the story of struggle and resilience with sensitivity and care. I recommend this creative book which offers stories of resistance and change.
Bob Stilger is a genius who weaves the future from the here and now when we don’t know what is right and are in chaos and confusion. I’ve worked with Bob for many years in Japan and have been with him when he senses into the invisible atmosphere — the BA — and then poses the questions the BA needs. He loves Japan deeply and wholeheartedly and is able to be in the BA with a perspective, position, insights, and professionalism. This love and determination is only possible for a person who believes in people and BA. I believe that is what happened in Bob’s work in Japan in our time of chaos. AfterNow is a hint to shed a light on what’s next in the world. I hope the love and wisdom of this book will reach many.”
This is a wonderful book. Of course, I am biased having known Bob for over a decade and having had the opportunity to travel to Japan with him for a learning journey around the communities involved in this disaster.
Within this book is an account of the effects of the triple disaster that affected multiple communities in Fukushima. Its aftermath was far reaching for the entire country. Bob’s account would correctly suggest that it impacted us all.
He takes us through an account of having felt called to these communities, his sensing of their immediate and reflective reaction to this devastation, and their resilience to heal themselves and their world. His openness in sharing his learning over the course of years, influenced by many others, brings a wealth of knowledge on solving large complex unsolvable problems.
Though the book is finished, the story continues. The devastation that occurred as a result of the tsunami of 3/11/2011 will remain much longer than we are capable of comprehending. This is a result of the radioactivity that was disseminated from the damaged reactor. After Now is a marker, not unlike those markers found in Japan that warned future generations not to build in a particular location. These had been placed as a result of a tsunami of long ago that caused devastation. If not heeded and remembered, we all are doomed to repeat the experience. Furthermore, it calls to each of us to awaken that part of us that will move forward in our current world, address problems that seem too large to solve, sensing rather than reacting, as we work to create a better Now.
A spectacular resource and heartfelt inquiry into reimagining the future after unimaginable loss. This is a great primer for any community that is trying to recover from disaster or emergency. And the grassroots process to help citizens dream into a new future. What a gift.
For me this book is brilliant and so much needed! AfterNow refers to the work done in Japan after the triple disaster, however I strongly believe it is relevant for every context. It tells a real life story in such a simple and in the same time profound way. Reading it I could connect my own story to it and felt heard and understood..."yes this is my experience as well.... ohhh I have also observed it… “. In the same time it puts different patterns, practices and actions into the particular context of what was happening in Japan and what purpose they were serving along the path.
As a group process facilitator myself, I take a lot for my local work in Bulgaria and I keep on coming back for more. I am wondering…...How would our world look like if future sessions are happening everywhere?…..Should we wait for a disaster to happen to start reimagining our future? What is the difference if you are organising future sessions in a disaster area and in a non-emergency context?
On a personal level, I also wish that more of my closest people, who are not involved in this kind of work, will read the book, as they will understand better my story.
Bob Stilger has distilled insights and wisdom gained over decades of working in the space of transformation. In a VUCA world, his is a gentle and clear voice of wisdom, resilience, and hope. I am so grateful he has taken the time to write this book, so as to share his knowledge and learnings with the rest of us.
Bob Stilger has written a brilliant, personal account of how to apply a learning orientation to complex issues of community renewal. His engagement with events in Japan after the Triple Disasters represents a real-world application of working with volatility and uncertainty in groups, social networks, and organizations. AfterNow is alive with theory, models, practices, and processes that can enliven any group.
Asks: “Are we ‘We’ yet?”
AfterNow is triune gift for unleashing powerfully resilient 'we-ness.' Bob offers readers:
A culminating artifact that gathers together social innovation practices he has collaboratively honed over the past 20 years in communities addressing dire circumstances and daring opportunities;
An invitation to plumb the depths of transferable wisdom for these times made visible by his masterful storytelling about Japanese resilience in meeting their 2011 Triple Disasters of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear explosions; and
Evidence that collaborative attentiveness to restorative beauty works. Bob offers his many gifts wrapped in a bow of courageous compassion.
A Gift. Bob Stilger has given us a rare gift offered with such tender love and compassion. Called by his heart and friendship, he traveled into chaos and disaster to become a companion to the people of Japan. With his heartfelt listening and companionship, he supported an organically unfolding response to the Triple Disasters. From the intensity of the Japanese cauldron comes a tapestry of rich lessons. In AfterNow, Bob brings us several simple but profound maps for how to find our way through monumental rivers of chaos and confusion together. He offers carefully harvested principles for how to co-create and build communities that bring people and connections alive. He shares guidelines gathered from countless stories for how to work with the natural arising flow of emergence in an ever-changing and often tumultuous world; working with what we have here and now. His discerning reflections and insights carry important lessons for us all. What he offers here are skills for the future and capacities for Now. As Bob himself says: It’s messy. It takes time. And it takes us all, together.” I am grateful for the contribution of this book is to our collective journey.”
Bob's wisdom shines thru these stories and frameworks - witnessing, supporting, cohosting in communities whose future is suddenly uncertain. Which increasingly is true for all of us. Wicked questions and vital lessons here!Jeff
I recommend AfterNow unreservedly and enthusiastically.
Bob Stilger is among that blessed company of people with the creativity, heart, and conviction to blaze a path for humanity to walk, together, to co-create the future that manifests our highest visions and deepest values.
So, I embrace with gratitude the effort Bob has made to distill and share the wisdom and insight he has cultivated over decades of being a visionary, practical laborer and artist working in the field of transformational change.
This book is both a map and a feast. There are rich fruits here for all. For my part, I will linger long in the chapter -- Befriending Confusion. I'd love to meet you there.
Having read this lovely, inspiring book, I now know who I hope will be nearby when my community needs to act even when the future is not visible. This book is filled with stories that inspire, tools that can help, and most of all wise reflections on what truly matters when the future cannot be seen and yet we must act. AfterNow offers a vision of how communities working together can heal, transform, and thrive after the unimaginable. Thank you, Bob, for the gift of this book.Wendy Visconty
At the time of darkness, we often want a light to guide our thoughts and actions. But at the chaotic time, things are ambiguous and it is hard to tell the difference between black and white. And, often we feel darkness is ever growing.
But at the darkest moment, slightest lights could shine within you and around you. How can we find lights and listen to them? How can we connect those small lights and let them glow and eventually shine?
Bob's AfterNow is a wonderful companion to find our answers to those questions. I recommend this book. You will feel Bob's courage and heart in it.
Stilger's lifetime of work in community development, leadership and emergent systems comes together powerfully in this wisdom-packed book. And not a moment too soon! We're all facing inumerable system breakdowns, maybe not as disastrous for the Fukushima and surrounding communities, but important nevertheless as the future of our own communities becomes more and more tenuous and uncertain. AfterNow might just be a new genre of literature, the practical kind of guidance that most of us need and want in this era of chaos. Buy it. Read it. Pass it forward!
We are present in our world at a time of huge change - change in our environment, our climate; change in our technology, our habits; change in how we relate to each other in our communities, our families; change in our economies, in our global connections. 'What do we do when cannot see the future?' - the sub title of Bob Stilger's' After Now' - indicates the kind of questioning we need in the face of increasing uncertainty, of confusion, of disaster, of having to 'start over'. The entry point into the future is the triple disaster that struck Japan in 2011 - the massive earthquake, the overwhelming tsunami, the rupturing of Fukushima - and the need to awaken from the ruins and explore where to begin, how to walk the small steps towards crafting a new path. Bringing in his decades of experience as a questioner, a journeyer, a listener, a learner, Bob guides us from past to present to future - with practical methodologies and approaches as well as living examples from Japan and other countries - of how to embrace grief, work with what we have, cope with parallel realities and return to community, to collective culture and lay down stepping stones to the future.
I have grown up hearing tales of the vibrant, defiant, quixotic individuals and communities that my father has worked with around the world. I have grown up in Japan. I have grown up with the chance to meet and work with those whose stories wend through these pages. This book brings to life the richness and wisdom that I have always found in those voices, that show me that another world is possible, one in which ‘moving beyond business as usual’ is not just an empty catch phrase. They give me hope. My father is a father figure to many; he has an innate ability to listen and to sit with the things that are most difficult without trying to change them or lighten them prematurely. He can echo back what he has heard in a way that opens new truths and possibilities, in a way that creates grounding where there was none. Early in the book, he says: “We arrive quietly, working from our listen-ing. We hear their stories. In the process, they begin to see themselves in a different light. They are able, literally and figuratively, to re-mem-ber themselves, to discover more of who they are.” This book comes from deep listening. It sheds light on how people and communities in Japan and around the world are living in and rising from disasters. The words in these pages are a powerful reminder of how to embrace disaster and uncertainty — whether ecological, sociopolitical, or personal — as we live our lives in uncertain times. They are also authentic, a reflection of my father and how he lives his life in all of its messiness and ridiculousness and grief and joy.
AfterNow is a work of brilliance that captures both the unique essence of the Japanese rebuilding efforts and the power of working within community in uncertain times. Part memoir and part manual, Bob’s story of love and commitment grows out of the tragedy of March 11, 2011. I work in and with Japanese contexts, and AfterNow speaks to the heart of the rebuilding efforts and the transformational power that rose from the destruction. Read this book and you will not only be filled with hope but will also take away some practical tools as a contributor to the greater good in the world.
Great book. Offers solace, hope, and healing. Very helpful and inspiring for those facing natural disasters. It offers solace, community action recovery RMSand healing.
The timing of AfterNow could not be better. Bob Stilger's beautifully crafted, resource-packed, well-storied book comes into our hands at the end of 2017 - a year where we have witnessed devastation in so many parts of the US and the world. I take it up now after the horrific Northern California fires, while fires are still raging in Southern California. There will be change and there will be more change. How we negotiate that change, learn from it, and move on more heart-fully, to me, is the essence of this book. What can we learn from those who have suffered and reclaimed their resilience? By looking at the triple disasters that befell Japan in 2011 we can find lessons, insights, and pathways to create the future we want to live into.
Bob Stilger brings the unique perspective of Sacred Outsider. someone who offers profound listening and presence. In this book, he offers that compassionate presence to help us understand the patterns of crisis and resilience that permeate our global culture today. He invites us to consider what else might be possible if, rather than waiting for disaster to strike to remember what matters, we have an opportunity in this moment, now, to reclaim our commitment to community and connection.
This book offers a deep reflection on where to begin when we lose almost everything. It is based on a real experience of the author in Japan after the 2011 disaster.
But it goes far beyond than a simple reflection, as the author was engaged on how to support change. So, it also offers a fantastic collection of tools and experiences as inspiration and practical ways to build the future.
AfterNow is a remarkable achievement. Because Stilger was already committed to Japan, having spent countless time there over many years and because he truly cares, he became a rare and ideal person to understand deeply what it was like for a swath of society to undergo such extraordinary trauma, to sit with many who had undergone enormous suffering and grief, and to meet those bodhisattvas, like himself, who were committed to healing and finding new ways forward.
AfterNow is both a text book and a source book for a new generation of community healers. Stilger's work transcends and includes old models, bringing forth what have we learned and are learning in these last decades about living with natural disasters, social change, and useful interventions. As the number and strength of these occurrences increase, we now have a bible for those asking themselves, How can I most effectively help?
Kudos to Stilger for being a compassionate and fearless reporter about natural tragedies not only in Japan, but also around the world. This book is a labor of love and service. For the reader it is a rare multi-dimensional journey into the best of our humanity.
I have joined the author's two-day workshops four times and witnessed how his original insights "Enspirited Being and Leadership" get evolved.
This book is a crystallization of peoples voices, experiences, and wisdom which emerged on the catalyst Bob's journey.
His workshops always gave a deep and fundamental change to the participants, and this book would.
This book is a great prism to see who I am and what "we" can do.
Since the Triple Disasters occurred in Japan, I have wondered about the people, the country, and their lives. All of a sudden, "After Now" by Spokane resident, Bob Stilger appears to answer the questions. What an incredible story!She
This book offers a different perspective with regard to how we create our future. Bob points out that we always have to start from the present and also from the people turning to one another, rather than spending so much time and energy in setting goals and laying out plans as if we can control the future.
He makes the case through sharing stories of people who worked and are still working tirelessly to create a different future made possible by "3.11," the historical disaster that hit the coastal region of northeast Japan several years ago. The message and the methods contained in this book apply to people everywhere who are trying to create a different future by creating it differently.
This is more than a book. It is a beautifully crafted testimony to what is possible in the face of life's biggest adversities. Just reading it and exploring the images and stories is a balm for the soul. Thank you, Bob Stilger, for sharing this message at a time that it is sorely needed in our world!
Reading AfterNow was a transformative experience for me, and if you’re up for such an adventure, I recommend it heartily. Bob Stilger’s story in AfterNow of working with communities in Japan that had been devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster awakened my heart with a vision of how communities of care and collaboration can be created in response to disaster, suffering and grief; how hearts opened in grief and suffering can be healed; how we need and thus can create life-giving relationships that enable us to rebuild individual lives and vital communities in the wake of tragedy.
The book transformed my vision of human possibility and inspires hope, and in a time of cascading natural disasters – e.g, the displacement of 64 million people in 2016 and the likely displacement of 450 million in the next 10 years, the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico, the still-raging fires in CA – yes, we need hope, and more, we need vision rooted in the reality of how we human beings can find ways to collaborate, celebrate human dignity, and embrace our fundamental interdependence on planet earth. We need a liberating vision of human possibility, a vision that will inspire us to action: AfterNow is such a vision.
I am recommending Bob Stilger's book After Now, When we cannot see the future where do we begin? I was privileged to work beside Meg Wheatley and Bob on the Berkana Institute's Board of Directors. We sought to be in partnership with communities around the world with the clarity that whatever their problem the people in the community are the answer. Bob and his family over 50 years of his life had become a part of the Japanese community. When the tsunami occurred he worked with them over many years to find their path to the future, the After Now. Using his journals he describes his experiences and the lessons coming from them. Clearly his book is relevant to us now in our disasters countrywide, local or personal, whether climate, politics, culture, diversity, etc. The book has beautiful graphics, too. Bob's passion is helping all of us to find our thread that takes us into our futures.
AfterNow reminds us to see and appreciate what we have and what we want to realize even in an extremely tough situation - such an important notion to remember in our time filled with all sorts of disasters.
Just like the author himself, the book is filled with warmth, wisdom and authenticity. I highly recommend this book to all who are survivors of disasters, and those who are supporting recovery work.