[HOT] Reminder about Self-Care (courtesy of Heather Leson)

Phil (The Geek) Wyatt phil at wyatt-family.com
Tue Apr 28 10:49:57 UTC 2015

Updated links for one of those articles. 




Please take care of yourselves and take time off on a regular basis - we may just need you all for another crisis event!


Cheers - Phil



From: Kathleen Danielson [mailto:kathleen.danielson at gmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, 28 April 2015 5:06 PM
To: hot at openstreetmap.org Openstreetmap
Subject: [HOT] Reminder about Self-Care (courtesy of Heather Leson)


Hello everyone,


I am forwarding this note that Heather sent to us nearly a year and a half ago, because it's stuck in my memory since then. I want to amplify her call to encourage you all to be caring for yourselves and each other. 


If you've ever been on an airplane, you know that in case of emergency you are supposed to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others. That's a lesson that is applicable to each of you in disaster response, even from afar. You are all doing real and challenging work, and I trust that by now you know first hand how draining and exhausting it can be, regardless of where you are located. 


Be kind to yourselves so that you have the energy and the resources to help others. 


Warm thoughts,




---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Heather Leson <heatherleson at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 2:26 PM
Subject: [HOT] Compassion and Self-Care
To: "HOT at OSM (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team)" <hot at openstreetmap.org>, 

HI Folks,  

I've been thinking a lot lately about compassion and the volunteer community. This relates to HOT but also the wider network of Crisismappers. Last month I wrote on my personal blog[1] that we participate almost by instinct and we want to do something that 'matters'. One of the qualities we all share include compassion. We know that each communication and each edit is making a valuable change. We know that responders may use our work. This drives us to do more. 

For those us involved in multiple responses a year (either in HOT or across Digital Humanitarian communities), the risk of burnt out and health issues are high. I know for a fact that I completely burnt out after the Kenyan Elections in March.  The Typhoon response has been going for well over a month. The tone of the mailing list has become strong, pointed. I did not engage in most of it because I was concerned that it was not healthy for me or potentially others. But, I read all the notes. They have been weighing on me. This note is not to reopen those discussions, but to ask us all to get out the wide-angle lens and do a pulse check.  HOT is amazing passionate and talented community. I am in awe of the gifts you continue to give. 

As far as I know, traditional field responders go in shifts. There are trained professionals to help guide their journey. They are well versed in the results of not taking care of oneself. Can anyone speak to this with some resources?

The StandBy Task Force has an in house 'community/ self-care team'. These folks work on taking care of the whole team. We watch the clock and remind everyone to log off, take breaks, go for a walk etc.  Sometimes deep in a response I often found this advice to be extravagant. But, it forces me to really think about the pile of dishes and the breeze outside. The SBTF also time-bounds their responses to take care of the volunteers.

HOT activations are lead by amazing folks and quiet participants doing all kinds of contributions. Each of you give hours and I dare say, weeks/months, in a long haul response. I know that we have not coordinated formally in shifts and more often we simply don't have a lot of visibility into all the moving parts that make a successful HOT response. This includes all the conversations around getting and using mapping.  We also have not sought to have in house self-care mechanisms.  

This morning Geeks Without Bounds posted this article[2] about self-care. I think it is an important read for all of us.


The space of digital humanitarians is new. We are all creating an ecosystem to make this possible. It really makes me focus on what matters - each of you. How can we better support each other? What outside help can we get to support those who are deep in response?   

1. http://textontechs.com/2013/11/why-we-volunteer-yolandaph/ and http://textontechs.com/2013/11/heart-of-the-matter/
2. http://gwob.org/blog/2013/12/18/self-care-and-humanitarian-response-worker/

I am wishing peace and downtime for everyone 



Heather Leson
heatherleson at gmail.com
Twitter: HeatherLeson 
Blog: textontechs.com

HOT mailing list
HOT at openstreetmap.org


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