Online organizing experiment a success, says Dunbar Earthquake & Emergency Preparedness (DEEP) group

DEEP has quietly been continuing work towards building a stronger and more resilient community. In response to COVID restrictions, we decided to redesign our Map Your Neighbourhood (MYN) tool and make it easier to meet via Zoom to learn about the nine important steps to follow immediately after a disaster – starting with securing your home and then helping your neighbourhood.

The first online experiment was led by long-time volunteer leader Colin Gray, who ran two meetings to introduce his neighbours to the idea of forming an emergency support group. Their block ‘circle’ focused on neighbours whose houses back onto the lane, as many already meet doing daily tasks like parking, garbage and recycling.

Both meetings were facilitated by the short, connected videos that address the challenges a neighbourhood could face in any emergency, especially an earthquake. The award-winning video sequence was created by the Washington State Emergency Management and adopted by DEEP to foster neighbourhood support groups able to respond effectively to an emergency. As everyone knows, a major disaster will severely limit the ability of first responders to help citizens, as their immediate priority will be to protect schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

The initial MYN online trial attracted 15 households with 10 more joining later. DEEP coordinators set up the Zoom meeting and Colin served as DEEP contact for neighbours after the meeting. This first COVID-era emergency support group now has 25 households participating, with more than half the homes on the block signed up.

If you are interested in learning more about this program or starting a group on your block, please reach out – we are here to help get you started. Contact us at