By Lisa Metropoulos
As successful entrepreneurs in the health and innovations fields, Dr. Leven “Chuck” Wilson and Tel Ganesan are no strangers to dealing with crisis modes.
Dr. Wilson, a nationally acknowledged expert in social work, is the Founder of the national nonprofit The Renew Group. Ganesan, a globally recognized entrepreneur with an extensive portfolio in health, entertainment and technology, is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Kyyba, Inc. They have mutually handled many forms of pressures and changes in business and have a vast philanthropic reach.
Watching their communities and the world change daily during this global pandemic has given both a renewed awareness to the often largely unspoken issues in our communities, and a revived appreciation for conditions we can change from where we sit. We reached out to these two change-makers to hear about the awareness for social change they are dedicated to making, and in doing so, they have made a commitment to update us weekly.
Dr. Wilson is homebased in Florida, with a dedicated office in Flint, Mich., two states greatly affected by COVID-19. Dr. Wilson is keeping his finger on the pulse of the communities around him and watching what is happening in the world. “We need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we see that needs adjusting. COVID-19 has placed a big mirror in front of the world.”
One of Dr. Wilson’s first examples of looking into that mirror, as he states, is the prison reform system. “We are getting small amounts of information and a glimpse into what needs to be changed for our incarcerated citizens, many who haven’t been convicted yet, or not able to make bail, but are still sitting in jail. Why? How can we improve healthcare for our incarcerated?”
The CDC website has a page called Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities. The information provided is useful but does not address the issue of what is being done to have more tests and general healthcare available for our incarcerated. The CDC recognizes that larger detention facilities have a limited number of healthcare workers available for the afflicted, but most of the smaller facilities do not.
“We need to keep this in our mirror. It’s not about pointing fingers. This is not the time for that. This is a time to highlight the issues that can be daily conversations coming out of this,” states Dr. Wilson. He asks us to take a hard look at the physicality of the earth in reset, and urges everyone to do a reset in ourselves and not put politics and profit above healing. He raises the point that although the COVID-19 virus may not physically touch everyone, it has already emotionally and economically reached us all. We will need to address the concerns of us living with those issues long after these Stay-At-Home orders are lifted.
Dr. Wilson is committed to highlighting issues that have come to the top of the surface such as fair business practices, accessible education and skilled trades, and healthcare, as we start to rebuild, and we will rebuild.
Tel Ganesan sees what is happening in his home state of Michigan, and more specifically, in Detroit where his corporate offices are homebased. Kyyba Intermedia also has daily operations that run out of their Flint, Mich. station. Ganesan is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs around the globe find their purpose and utilize their voices.
“During this unprecedented time, COVID-19 is the greatest equalizer of humanity. It does not spare anyone. We are all equally susceptible to its ramifications, as well as to what it can teach us. However; the issues in an already vulnerable community quickly become more amplified, making the systemic crisis particularly hard for people of color who have been neglected,” says Ganesan.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a global organization advancing human rights. They recently outlined how this worldwide health crisis has highlighted social injustices through rampant economic inequality. One of the UUSC focal points is how too much value is placed on profit over people through disaster capitalism and governing for profit. We have seen this happen before, from gentrification in the NYC Boroughs after 911, to hurricane relief being unequally disseminated to vulnerable communities.
When asked what he sees when he looks in the mirror, Ganesan’s response was one of great vulnerability himself. “All of my possessions and abundance are shattered in this mirror, and our health, physically, mentally and spiritually, are the most important of all.”
As we continue to see a “new normal” and adjust our daily lives, we can all agree that this global lockdown is having all of us look in our own mirrors. What we see is a choice each of us makes, and our perspective can either be near or far-sighted.
We continue to encourage you to find ways to keep the advancement and protection of all people in your daily view. The 2020 Census is a good place to start. It is more important than ever to be counted and make positive change forward in your community from inside your home. You can do this expeditiously on your digital device, it takes about 6 minutes total. The greater number of individuals that are counted, the greater impact it will have on school lunches, infrastructure, and support for families in need. Your voice can be heard by absentee ballot voting in your state elections. Check your state government website for absentee ballot rules particular to your state. Everyone has a voice, let yours be counted.
The busy pace of our daily grinds has halted for a time, which gives us a deeper appreciation for the stillness. During this time of much inward reflection, let our eyes see all that we can change outside.