After travelling to Africa at the end of 2010, Jade set herself a dogma: Work on projects that inspire you, with amazing people you can aspire to.
Lucky for us, there is no shortage of projects and people that fit this brief; and we were fortunate to connect with an auditorium full of them at the Changemakers conference at the Bruce Mason Centre on Friday.
We were humbled to be part of the speaking line up and share our journey from yMedia to Curative, to talk about the importance of creativity and connectivity and how a cheesy quote on the front of a greeting card has shaped our approach: ‘life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself’.
Most of the people in the room, and certainly the other speakers, already seem to be living by this motto, and we were inspired to hear their stories of creating change for a better world.
A blog post is never going to do the event justice; (our friends who listened to us recounting stories all weekend will tell you that ‘inspired’ isn’t a strong enough word for how we felt afterwards), but here’s just some of the highlights from the day:
The lovely Amanda Judd shared the story of Lovenotes, and her approach to turning problems on their head; whether it’s curbing consumerism while encouraging recycling, or turning the menial task of sorting paper into a forum for conversation and growth for the young people in her work-force.
Charlotte Squire from Happyzine talked about the importance of ‘good news stories’ in the media, and how we should celebrate, encourage and support positive action. She also showed how multi-talented she is when she bravely got up and sang with her guitar and tui-bird and had half the audience up and dancing in the middle of the afternoon.
Rachel Brown who has been fighting the good fight for many years, and now heads up the Sustainable Business Network talked about how she realised that you can’t keep talking to the people who have already ‘got it’ if you really want to influence change. To motivate people and businesses outside of ourselves, you need to find the commonality, and get their peers; the people that ‘speak their language’, on board to help.
Philip Patson & Sam Orchard got us all thinking about the need for labels in society today, and led a discussion about whether our passports should indicate male, female or transgender, and the reasons why or why not.
Whether it’s the difference between tight and loose, or light and dark, Gael Surgenor who spearheaded the ‘It’s not okay’ campaign against domestic violence taught us to embrace and understand opposites; to define a tight direction, but to allow yourself to be free and loose in how you get there.
‘If you want to go fast, go at it alone, If you want to go far, go with others’ were the resounding words from Robin Allison from Earthsong Eco-neighbourhood, an innovative urban co-housing development in west Auckland, which proves just what can be done when people work and in this case, live together and share resources.
Through a powerful film produced by the Regeneration Trust and Splashroom Media we were introduced to some outstanding teenagers each doing their bit for the environment, and were blown away by the confidence and passion of Luke Carey, who at just 17 has his mind on improving transport systems, and has even drawn up several suggestions for improvement (some of which have even been implemented!).
We were heartened by the ‘can-do’ attitude of Geoff Chapple who worked with hundreds of volunteers to establish Te Araroa, a 3000-km trail stretching from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the South, simply ‘because it wasn’t there’. After 10 years of hard work, the trail opened on 03 December 2011. Event organiser Billy summed it up nicely, acknowledging Te Araroa as a physical metaphor for the long journey that most social enterprise and community organisations face.
If you had seven people in your family, would you chose to make one to go hungry so that the rest of you could have more fun? That was the question John Stansfield from Oxfam posed to the audience, as he told us that 1 in 7 people on this planet goes hungry every day, even though we collectively have the resources to make sure this doesn’t happen. It’s a powerful question which insights conversation, now the question is how do we turn the conversation into action?
Seb Stewart from Q Youth was more direct with his questioning, and asked us all to put a stop to using the word ‘gay’ to describe when things aren’t how we’d like them to be. ‘That’s so gay’ needs to be removed from vocabulary, ‘gay’ simply shouldn’t be a derogatory or negative term.
To wrap up the day, we were given a treat as Courtenay Meredith turned poetry into a moving performance before Lani Evans & Kate Frykberg wrapped up the event with a very fitting conversation about generosity. They gave us each a small gift, which came with three options: a) you could keep it for yourself, b) you could share it with somebody or c) you could give it to someone who would like it more than you.
Phew! And that’s not even all of the speakers. As you can see there were so many interesting topics and projects shared and discussed and there a wealth of incredible people working to influence positive change.
Big thanks to Lani Evans, Billy Mathieson and the Regeneration crew for connecting us to so many inspiring Changemakers!