“How can we help?” I’m hearing that question a lot. As I write this column, our friends in Australia and Puerto Rico are dealing, respectively, with massive wildfires and the aftermath of a series of earthquakes. Of course, we send our thoughts and prayers. But isn’t that what everyone says when something bad happens? There’s more we can do — much more, as individuals and an industry.
First, there are many worthy ways to donate to get help quickly to affected people and areas. The PCMA Foundation Industry Relief Fund assists members of our industry affected by disasters. The fund, which unites the business events community when catastrophes hit, previously came to the aid of those facing disasters including Hurricanes Michael and Florence. Organizations providing frontline support in Australia and Puerto Rico can also use your help.
Then, once any immediate danger has passed, we need to focus on rebuilding and recovery efforts. There’s no better way to do that than to take our events to Australia and Puerto Rico. Crucial to keep in mind is that most of Australia — where tourism and business events are significant economic drivers — has been unaffected by the bushfires, with many destinations open for business and welcoming visitors. The same is true in Puerto Rico, where earthquake damage has been centered in the southern region.
Moreover, let’s not lose sight of our industry’s vast potential for problem-solving. We say that events push social and economic transformation, so we must make sure that whatever industries and professions our events cover, we somehow address the underlying global environmental issues affecting society. That includes climate change, which many scientists say is a factor in the Australia bushfires.
At last month’s Convening Leaders 2020 in San Francisco, I laid out a vision for our industry’s future, explaining how in our ever-more interdependent world what happens in one place reverberates across the planet. For example, there is scientific evidence that fires as massive as those in Australia will affect climate conditions far away. And, of course, the pain experienced by those affected by the fires and earthquakes is keenly felt by their families and friends around the world.
Perhaps it was our opening Convening Leaders Main Stage speaker who said it best. When our event moderator, Holly Ransom, asked bestselling author Simon Sinek to share one message he’d like the audience to take forward into 2020, he didn’t skip a beat. “Take better care of each other,” he answered. Bookstores are filled with self-help sections, he said. “Why aren’t there any help-each-other sections?”
Help us Help Australia and Puerto Rico
PCMA and the PCMA Foundation have a goal in mind: to raise at least $250,000 to help those affected by the fires in Australia and earthquakes in Puerto Rico. We’ve committed to the first $50,000. Will you help us hit our target? We’ll share additional information on this appeal at two upcoming events where PCMA is providing an education program — Destination Showcase on Feb. 5 in Washington, D.C., and at AIME, Feb. 17-19 in Melbourne.
A new initiative has been launched by the Victorian government to encourage organizations to take their business to regions affected by the bushfires. Check the homepage of Discover Puerto Rico for travel updates there. And read more about PCMA’s efforts to raise $250,000.