Monday, May 20, 2024

MY TURN: Think resiliently, Kootenai

We live in interesting, unprecedented times. A cursory review of recent Coeur d'Alene Press archives reveals an array of concerning headlines: The Rules of War, Adapting to Life with COVID, State Emergencies Due to An Abnormal Influx of Migrants, Economic Uncertainties, and Big Wires: Needed for Electrical Grid System, among other issues.

These headlines are indicative of our complex, shifting world. In relation to this ever-changing landscape, CBS Investigative Correspondent Catherine Herridge recently predicted a Black Swan event in 2024. The vaunted journalist described it as a “national security event with high impact that's very hard to predict … And we're so divided in this country in ways that we haven't seen before." 

This division — this fragmentation of our social fabric — is a critical issue deserving of our attention.

Indeed, we might be facing not just a single isolated Black Swan in 2024, but possibly, multiple such occurrences (Newstarget defines a Black Swan as a "massive, negative and unpredictable event that can cause widespread repercussions on politics, finance, national economies, and even global culture"). 

The implications of such events are far-reaching, impacting every facet of society. Of course, the strength — or fragility — of a community is most evident in a crisis. The (mis)handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans serves as a poignant example. The city's leadership struggled to respond effectively, exacerbating an already dire situation as first responders were overwhelmed, and citizens were left to fend for themselves.

In stark contrast stands Houston's response to Hurricane Harvey years later. This event showcased the inherent strength of unity and collaboration. Community-first responders and ordinary citizens alike banded together in an inspiring display of solidarity, providing aid and support to those in need, all while maintaining a sense of dignity and kindness.

Here in our own Kootenai County, we’re blessed to be surrounded by incredible people and abundant resources. Our leaders, first responders and government employees are dedicated and capable, tirelessly working to serve our community. Despite the occasional conflicts and differences that arise, we are endowed with numerous advantages. These strengths, if united and mobilized effectively, can be a potent force in facing any challenge in 2024.

In response to the potential array of crises looming on the horizon, we took a proactive initiative, forming the Kootenai Stability and Resilience Group (KSRG) in mid-2023. Our non-political, grassroots coalition of citizen leaders is deeply committed to developing and implementing strategies to fortify our community against any potential threats. Our diverse membership includes experts in logistics, security, medical wellness, communications, advanced technologies and business/finance, all united by a common goal.

The ethos of KSRG transcends political divides, fostering a spirit of county-wide volunteerism and civic responsibility. We believe our collective strength is greater than the sum of our individual parts.

We remain hopeful that a crisis will not materialize. However, adopting a stance of complacency in these unprecedented times is not an option. The lessons from New Orleans' experience during Hurricane Katrina are clear: even the most dedicated first responders have their limitations. In recognition of this reality, we have initiated outreach to more community leaders, aiming to work hand-in-hand with first responders and Kootenai stakeholders.

We extend an invitation to you, our fellow citizens, to join our non-political community effort. Your involvement is crucial; the more who participate, the more resilient and stable our community will become. Specifically, we have a variety of committees that would greatly benefit from your skills and insights. For more information on how to get involved, please visit us at

Ultimately, this letter is not meant to induce fear or anxiety. Rather, it’s a call to action, grounded in the belief that the potential risks highlighted in the aforementioned Coeur d'Alene Press articles are worthy of our attention and preparation. Our commitment to our neighbors and the broader community motivates us to adopt a proactive stance, ensuring we are well-prepared to face any challenges that may arise.

We appreciate your consideration of our message and your commitment to our community. Together, we can build a stronger, more resilient future for all.

• • •

Brig Gen (ret) Blaine D. Holt is a co-founder of Restore Liberty, former Deputy Representative to NATO and senior adviser to Xeriant Aerospace. 

Duke Johnson, M.D., Kootenai County Coroner, is a co-founder of Heart of Hope in Hayden, a membership family medical practice. He’s the former medical director of the world's largest supplement manufacturer and a former Level 1 and Level 2 trauma doctor in Southern California. 

Michael Ashley is an author, Forbes columnist and professional speaker.

    Duke Johnson, M.D.
    Michael Ashley