Fight or flight? Defeating the forces of chaos and fear to ensure that everyone thrives

Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras: Confronting Apathy, Envy and Fear on the Road to Saving Humans and the Future

By Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello

100% Community (2020, 268 pages)

The forces of apathy, envy and fear run everything, according to New Mexico-based author-educators Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello - from Fortune 500 companies to city hall to "your news streams."

In this time of pandemic and financial downtown, the "three-headed hydras" have no interest in following prudent public health policy, extending subsidies for the unemployed or providing badly needed health services.

The hydras cling to maintaining power and the status quo, say the authors, but they can be defeated by the actions of superhero citizens like you and me.

As a more accessible offshoot of their tome "100% Community: Ensuring 10 Vital Services for Surviving and Thriving," which has been adopted as the blueprint by Taos Pueblo 100% Initiation, according to the authors, this lively work advances its mobilizing plan by snappy cartoons of caped crusaders (you can color them) and 52 "episodes" that can supposedly be read in any order.

The authors' mission is to help communities -- county by county -- maintain and offer 10 vital services to all citizens "in times both calm and chaotic." Five of the services are for basic survival: access to medical and dental care, behavioral health care, food security programs, housing security programs and transportation to vital services.

The five "thriving" services are defined by the authors as parent supports, early childhood learning programs, community schools, youth mentoring and job training.

The authors' plan is to get counties to consider funding 1 percent of the combined county budget for the 100% Community initiative -- while engaging all residents in the conversation about funding these 10 vital services. Through the use of data-driven research (e.g., surveys), the authors propose to help identify service gaps and why they exist, and use technological evaluations to fix them.

Sounds simple? Not with the three-headed hydras telling you every reason why it's impossible.

The good news, write the authors, is that "three-headed hydras are going extinct just as the dinosaurs did." Technology is forcing everyone in government to be transparent, and the "economic collapse dictates that we cannot afford to duplicate and waste."

Courtney and Cappello have fashioned a singular call to action, in an easy-to-digest format for regular citizens who want to do what's right but have no clue how to get involved. The authors emphasize how the use of technology -- social media, self-publishing tools, videoconferencing, podcasts, apps -- can reach people and project goals while also exposing the hydras' nefarious methods.

At the end of each chapter/episode are the authors' personal "tales from the battlefield" -- when they actually had to confront the naysayers at meetings and elsewhere and use some effective strategies.

The book would make a terrific focus of a book club - indeed, according to the authors, the town of Taos and county leaders have just finished two such 100% Community book clubs.

"Hydras are easy to spot once you know what to look for," write the authors. "Prepare for the battle of the century. Progress vs. The Status Quo. Who will win?"

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