Letter: A proposal for a Manitoulin Island peer listening support network

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the current COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the world, the following letter was submitted to the Recorder by Glenn Black, a resident of Providence Bay, who would like to start a peer listening program on Manitoulin Island to help people get through this crisis. Mr. Black’s letter is published below.

Dear Editor:

I propose the following peer listening to start on Manitoulin as soon as possible. I need your help to get the word out, and support the idea.

At eight people per online training course, it will take five weeks to train 10,000 people (everybody on the Island).

You train yourself in peer listening while you recruit eight friends to volunteer. Next week, you train those eight people in peer listening. Those eight then train eight more each, so there is you plus 64 more trained. The following week, there are 520 trained etc. Keep going.

Once trained, tell everybody about your training, you’re looking for clients you can help for free, pass the word, do you know anybody who is struggling, needs help, or a friendly, confidential ear?

Keep going until all the planet is trained and/or crisis has passed. 

During Exxon Valdez in Alaska, Katrina in New Orleans and again for Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, people who trained as “peer listeners” saved the day.

People who are trained as peer listeners are hardened against the stress in their lives from COVID-19 or elsewhere.

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so people training, or applying their training, tend to stay out of trouble.

People who have an existential purpose outside of themselves during a crisis, as well as after a crisis, tend to pass through the crisis far better than those who don’t have that over-arching purpose.

I will soon start reading and studying to be ready when people need someone to listen to their troubles (COVID-19, loss of job, business failure, death, hunger, sickness, fear, loss of pension, etc). 

Glenn Black

Providence Bay

Cell 705-348-2229