With the recent major earthquake in Nepal, epicenter near Kathmandu, I reflect once again on how we can connect better with this and other world challenges via a surprisingly overlooked and simple lens- latitude.
The experience of our current emergency-style global awareness is that we tend to spend most of our energy focusing on our lives wherever we are- our local/regional/national existence, and then, with a little remaining energy, only focus on disasters around the globe. Why we focus on only global disasters exclusively is a phenomena better addressed by students of media etc., but there’s certainly some aspect of humanity attracted to fire, and we go from fire to fire around the world, and that’s just about all that we see of the rest of the world- fire&calamity. This month Nepal, next month or even week, somewhere else.
Yet rather than suggest we stop attending to emergencies, or that we change our human nature, I think we need to work with it. And I think Latitude awareness could be a helpful tool in this regard.
For instance, let’s say latitude guilds gained traction and people around the world had a strong sense of their specific latitude around the world. Communities around the world on 27.41 N – for instance- would then feel a sense of immediacy in sharing a crisis in their latitude family. And if the latitude family is afflicted, family responds.
Now what if Kathmandu is not on your latitude. The latitude movement is not about exclusion, but inclusion. Could other latitudes partner to help 27.41? Of course. For starters, 27.41 N is a mile wide stripe around the earth. Yet we also know that the earthquake had far reaching impact, not just Kathmandu- so more minutes of latitude, and more latitude families experience a crisis on their slice of the world. 27.41 does not even cover all of Kathmandu, with sprawls North South East and West. But more to the point, as we focus on our own latitude around the world, whatever that may be, the entire world slowly comes into focus, because we are looking at maps, we are understanding global relationships and challenges in new ways, and we are just plain sharper when it comes to global affairs. We start with a line, but the line becomes the world over time.
I am suggesting a few things here. One, that a consideration of latitude helps us focus and connect to an emergency, or another global issue, whether or not it is on our specific latitude. Latitude provides a platform for a new kind of awareness of global events, rather than a vague notion of something bad happening somewhere. We begin to understand the relationship between what is happening where we are and what is happening somewhere else. Two, latitude families/guilds/circles can improve global responsiveness and a sense of individual contribution by building more effective bridges amongst people around the world and cultivating personal connection. Rather than Kathmandu alone, latitude communities could come to the aid of specific small towns outside Katmandu also devastated, but maybe overlooked (I will do research on this). And Three, since global events/crises are also opportunities to create bridges, I believe latitude should always be one of the bridges built (again, based on the premise that specific minutes of latitude share the powerful connection of same light).
This weekend, I will begin looking at the specific latitudes that comprise the earthquake devastation in Nepal. For starters I will look at 27.41 N, the first latitude pinpointed by the useful website latlong.net when I entered in Kathmandu, Nepal. Other communities around the world on 27.41 include, cruising West and a bit randomly (a good solid introductory cruise takes a half day, which I don’t have today!) :
Tayma, Saudi Arabia
Between Dirwah and Tandah, Egypt
Remote Desert through Libya and Algeria
North of Vero Beach, Florida
Sun City Center, Florida
Just South of Ruskin, Florida
St. Petersburg, Florida
Eckerd College, Florida
Mustang Island, Texas
And many, many more places!
Each minute of latitude is a universe unto itself, but the above list is a starting suggestion that there are communities small and large around the world which share the same light, same line, and exact same latitude with a mile wide section of Kathmandu. This is not about latitude as THE solution, but as something that can engage people in new ways in the world. I think for instance of the 27.41 N line of communities in South Florida that certainly has its own experiences with natural disasters, and if they were engaged in the idea of latitude connection and partnership could mobilize resources in ways that they aren’t currently. Does St. Petersburg Florida talk about sharing the same latitude as Kathmandu? Isn’t this of interest, that each day in Kathmandu is exactly the same as that in St. Peterburg, Florida? And that there is a unique connection that these communities share?
In sum, the question is how do we enliven people to participate more effectively in a global response effort. I think that if we build latitude communities North and South we might create the kinds of connections shared by family, and we would see more people respond in meaningful ways. Not everyone is in a position to help, but I think that many more people could be in a position to be more aware, and awareness itself can be helpful.
Finally, the concentration on specific latitude, say 27.41 N for instance, helps focus on a part of a larger disaster like the Nepal earthquake, and some of the specific places and people that are afflicted. Specific latitude helps us focus, and not lose site of the specific places and areas even within a city that are afflicted by a major event. In my view, this helps us reduce immense challenges to immense but more human scale challenges, and although still immense, not insurmountable.
Imagine the power of latitude families responding to crises. The ideas unfold.
For instance, St. Petersburg could be kind of a leader in the national effort to support Kathmandu- help us help Kathmandu. In this way, folks around the US can connect North and South with a sister city of Kathmandu- St. Petersburg Florida. Again, not replacing other efforts, but adding to them with a different angle on how to engage. The specific east-west line of latitude, and the power of that line.