As literally 1000’s of airplanes are grounded in an unprecedented effort to mitigate the spread (notice how I didn’t say, contain- seemingly impossible now with cases reported-and many more unreported/latent in 114 countries) of the corona virus pandemic; 100’s of millions of people are sent home from school, work, life.

The world has literally been grounded— sent to our homes and rooms to reflect. What a wonderful opportunity for many of us living in a fast-pace, highly competitive, increasingly digitized, noisy, contentious society to slow down, breathe, turn off our electronic smart devices and just BE in our rooms, sitting in silence. 

Perhaps what elicits from this space of reflection we have all now been gifted is a desire to review our lives, our work, our critical life choices that have brought us to the present moment. Perhaps we will become curious about the larger social-environmental context within which this corona virus (COVID-19) has become a major villain in our human story overnight. But like all inciting incidents in films; the disruptor- the one thing that at first appears the worst thing to have happened to the protagonist becomes the best thing that happens to him. Perhaps this forced slow down of life and turn down of the economy helps us change lens and re-focus our attention on the people in our family and neighborhoods and a fire of compassion starts to burn in our hearts as we want everyone to stay safe and protected. Perhaps this forced slow down and quiet in the streets opens up the smells, sights, sounds, changing light of the natural environment around us…and that makes us smile. Perhaps we will awaken our naturally intelligent selves and realize the forced shut down, slow down of many human, carbon-producing activities is better for our health. Check out the air quality difference before-after controlled decarbonization activities in China. 

NASA Image January-February 2020

Perhaps as we look to the unknown future and our limited home supply of goods and resources, we cultivate (even a spark) of the island mentality —a recognition that we live in a world with finite natural resources, and we have to give back as much as we take in order to maintain the natural balance and continued abundance. Perhaps too, those having come the last days from a place of fear—and having binged shopped in a panic for food and home goods—excessively stockpiling staples, realize in the quiet aftermath this weekend that now another family might not even have one roll of toilet paper for the next week. Perhaps this moment becomes the opportunity to practice the art and ritual of the Potlatch. In Pacific Northwest indigenous groups and in the Pacific island communities this is a celebration of giving—where the one who gives the most to the community, is considered the wealthiest one in the village. Check out 40 unique gift giving traditions, worldwide.

And, perhaps the longer we sit, we will also realize that we are not really in control—and we come to peace with that truth and reality. Certainly we follow the golden rules of clean hygiene and (for a time) social distancing as responsible citizens. But, no matter our age, gender, nationality, faith, economic status, or political orientation— every one of us could contract the virus. That said, clearly the most vulnerable—the elderly and immune-compromised groups our communities are most threatened. And clearly, those living in dense, urban ecosystems, as well—in closed, less sanitary conditions, like prisons, are most greatly exposed and could become incubators for the virus as it runs its course through our global society. This is unjust. This is sad. And this corona virus could be a blessing also here too; as the virus has spotlighted the most vulnerable places and people in our society… giving us the opportunity to invest in upgrading the quality of life in these people and places… to make a positive, future change for the collective commons and our collective community. 

“There’s a way in which fear can be one of two things— the great divider or the great gatherer.” Sonia Renee Taylor


  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.