“Operation Phoenix: Caribbean Rising”

A Commentary by Ervin Welsh

I struggle to think of a time I felt more powerless than these last few weeks. My
Caribbean Family had the luxuries, comforts and basic necessities of human life ripped
from beneath them by hands they had no chance of fending off. Irma and Maria — among
two of the most devastating hurricanes to barrel across the Atlantic Basin — left lives
completely changed, lay bare the fragility of our pampered reality and thrust into eternal
retirement, tens of us. My tiny twin-island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis was spared the
wrath of these deadly storms but the few damages we sustained was, in other islands, the
little that stood firm among the now completely ruined.
Where exactly does one begin when starting from zero, when all needs rebuilding
and the bare minimum necessary to fuel those who are to rebuild it, is scarce? When help is
not sure to come but help rendered is sure to come with conditions, where do we begin?
What happens when the clock is ticking and optimism is dwindling as what was once
urgent (elderly and child care, the sick and impoverished, etc.) remains urgent? Yet, just as
rodents, mosquitoes, flies and other insects are sure to begin to thrive among the
destruction, so are other urgent (desperate) matters, sure to. Where do you turn when
you’ve lost it all but so has everyone around you? What do you do when you have nothing
to give? Whose life gets rebuilt and furthermore rebuilt first, when the systems we built are
in rubble to? What do you do when you want to give but have nothing of value?
Powerless, I watched the remnants of unspeakable devastation. And while I grappled with
the devastation of family closest me, the tribulations of my family from India to Mexico, to

the United States, the whole globe, tugged at me equally. Not only did I not have it to give,
my spirit was caught somewhere between being strong enough for each and every one in
these hurting nations and being broken, feeling badly beaten.
I wish I could have organized something. I spent time calculating how I could have
gone to these islands for some months and helped to rebuild. But not only didn’t I have it to
give in cash or kind, I didn’t have it in time. If I were to seek a way to be deployed to
neighboring islands, I’d be giving up the time I so desperately need to be working on the
projects I’m engulfed in. Doing so would be delaying current efforts I’m hopeful will see me
in a better space eventually.
In the same breath, I believe powerlessness is a point of view we accept. I believe we
are more than we need and can ever fathom. I believe the systems we’ve built are part of
our problem so while I have nothing material, I have everything I need and then some.
These are the thoughts I’ve been wrestling with for weeks. How do I reconcile them?
I was silent about the devastation as these thoughts bubbled in me but a few erupted on
paper.[1][2][3] Uncharted waters is what I’ve been navigating for more than a year, having
stopped working on my business, investing instead in efforts to redress social problems.
My boat has been kept afloat by loved ones on whom I’ve been dependent and by what I
can only explain as blessings. Yesterday I heard the words so many said to me… In my own
thoughts, I heard that had I been making money, I’d have no problem contributing to these
causes. And while my mind’s ear was sweetened by these words, my own reasoning I
questioned. Just two days earlier I scraped together EC$25.00 in coins to donate to a
fundraiser for Dominica. It’s barely more than nothing — I know — but it’s all I had and

even more than. Quite a few of those coins were souvenirs. They were commemorative
coins recently circulated which I didn’t intend to spend but it was all I had.
It would appear that money could solve this problem easily, that everyone was right,
had I been earning an income I’d be able to be of use. It would seem there was no helping
others if we can’t help ourselves first — an increasingly popular saying with which I’ve
taken issue. Notwithstanding this “evidence”, my reasoning didn’t square with my feelings
— I still reasoned my stance more intrinsically valuable.
I thought about resuming work and donating all proceeds to relief efforts. I’d
certainly be of help that way. I mulled over the thought for a while and the more I did, the
better it seemed. The only drawback was I’d still be powerless. I’d be choosing to revert to
maintaining the system I’ve mentioned obstructs rebuilding in the first place.[4] The
money I could give and indeed anyone could give, pales in comparison to the benefit of not
playing the role of maintenance man of a system built broken. I was trapped in the same
mind we’re socialized in. My “outside-the-box” idea was squarely inside the proverbial box.
With more thought, I decided I would resume work for the express purpose of helping the
islands. But I’ll do so on new terms, in service of a new way of doing things as I’ve
continually called for.
For the next three months, October through December 2017, I’ll be working on logo
design and visual communications projects again, the proceeds of which will go to
rebuilding efforts in islands most severely impacted. I’ll only accept payment in the form of
aid items as per needs countries express and as I’ll rehash for those seeking to engage me.
Further, there’s no exact price being put on my work. While I will share what the cost may
have been for a specific project, it is up to the individual to decide what they will

contribute. In this way, I won’t be restricting access to my work and I will afford those who
want to give but who (like I) only have little, to do so nonetheless.
It has been 14 months to be exact since I officially stepped away from such work.
This idea likely came in part because just a few days ago I declined yet another solicitation
for my services. Through any other lens that is the most ridiculous decision both for myself
and those I purport to want to help. But while I have nothing in pocket or bank to help my
people, I have everything I need to do so because everything I am is for them and I am (we
all are) endless possibilities. Among these, I’m a creative and entrepreneur. In
understanding my purpose as both an individual and an entrepreneur, I resolve it best (at
this time) to work only for donations to impacted islands.[5][6] It is in this way I realize and utilize the power I had all along. It never went
anywhere, I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t know it. I had a moment of weakness, searched and
found it. This is the power central to my ongoing admonitions that we realize and
intentionally wield.
I’ve been repeatedly asked how I’d function without charging for my work and I’ve
asked in response how money would function if we decided we won’t work for it but for
each other. As I said in Future Forecast: On Change & Purpose, regarding the response
necessary to prevailing circumstances,

“Fight nature with nature! Natural is us living the value we
intrinsically are. The above-and-beyond mentality which
tragedy unearthed today — the inextinguishable human spirit
already set to task in individual and grassroots movements
rebuilding their own devastated communities and

neighbouring territories, availing oneself for assistance and
relief — must be our way of life when the winds cease and
waters recede.” (Welsh, 2017)

I didn’t realize when I wrote that that this is what it would call for me to do personally, but
I do now. What does it require of you?

Notes:
1. See Future Forecast: On Change & Purpose
2. See On Building More Resilient Countries. Post Hurricane Commentary 2017.
3. See Telos: The Truth. Unlike 1 and 2, this was not written specifically about weather
related issues but said issues prodded me to put this on paper. Initially, Telos: The
Truth was the first part of a two part work titled Future Forecast: On Change &
Purpose, with what is now Future Forecast… being the second part.
4. Supra note 1.
5. See note 1 for an essay on the purpose of the individual and business.
6. Additional information related to this initiative will be published separately. Feel
free to contact Ervin Welsh with logo design and visual communications projects
and inquires via contact information below. See also Related section for link to
partial portfolio of work.

Related:
 Partial Portfolio of Ervin’s Work:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bw8pq0uvGwoAeWlxNXRUakMzSkU

 Contact:
o Email: ervinwelsh@gmail.com
o Tel: 1 (869) 762-4650 (Currently only reachable via Whatsapp message and
call.)

Citations:
 Welsh, Ervin. (2017, September 19). Future Forecast: On Change & Purpose.

Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/ervin-welsh/future-forecast-on-
change-purpose/10156848524207575/

Further Reading:
 Welsh, Ervin. (2017, March). Forfeiting Privilege — The Price of Change. [Audio file]

Retrieved from https://www.mixcloud.com/ervinwelsh/forfeiting-privilege-the-
price-of-change/

 Welsh, Ervin. (2017, September 19). Future Forecast: On Change & Purpose.

Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/ervin-welsh/future-forecast-on-
change-purpose/10156848524207575/

 Welsh, Ervin. (2017, September 20). On Building More Resilient Countries. Post
Hurricane Commentary 2017. Retrieved from

Building more resilient countries doesn’t only require new materials and improved construction methods. We have to — as…

Posted by Ervin Welsh on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

 Welsh, Ervin. (2017, September 15). Telos: The Truth. Retrieved from

https://www.facebook.com/notes/ervin-welsh/telos-the-
truth/10156836584857575/

*****
Contact:
Ervin Welsh
N.B. Written as an individual. Not as Positively Inclined’s Founder.
T: 1(869)762-4650 (Currently only reachable via Whatsapp message and call.)

E: ervinwelsh@gmail.com