Month: March 2013

Opening a conversation: “Bridge-makers”. Your thoughts?

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This week 16-24 March, I will be attending the Commonwealth Study Conference in UK held across six different cities. It will be a busy time, building new networks, and being challenged with new thoughts. An opportunity to share an collaborate as well.

The theme for the CSCLeaders is an interesting question:

How do people from communities which have spread across the world become bridge-makers in the global networks of the future?

Interested to know about your thoughts, questions and ideas which this question raises.

Also interested to know how I would be best placed to open a conversation around this question to share what comes out of the conference. This blog and Facebook both serve a purpose, but also have their limitations. I was thinking about something like Basecamp, but someone no doubt has a better idea. I would love to hear it!

My focus at the CSCLeaders is to build a strong enabling environment for the 10 City Bridge Run. More soon.

Game On! Flying to London

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Good news. A very good friend loaned me the additional funding needed to start this journey. Tonight I will fly to London, and the first leg of this will be run closer to Easter.

It is perhaps an opportunistic start, and hasty. But let me ask you: if you have a chance to make a change in the world, but must act now when you are less-than-ready, will you pass it up so you don’t lose face?

It is all part of the conversation we are building asking: “how might we use our networks to reduce child mortality?” It is raw, it is visceral, but it is real.

It is likely I will return home directly to Sydney to conduct the second run in  early May. I am still mending from the torn calf muscle in late December, so need to get this journey started, but also do it safely.

More later, but right now I have to zip. Thanks to everyone for getting behind this epic journey.

An idea that changed the world

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This image was selected as a picture of the we...
I am become death, the destroyer of worlds…

Global Zero seeks to mobilise people to join a movement with a seemingly impossible objective. The achievement of zero nuclear weapons held on earth by the year 2030.

Seriously? Yes, seriously. Impossible you say. But take note: aspirational goals are worth setting, even if the degree of stretch is well beyond our view and reach.

But is it impossible? It would be an idea that changed the world. Every change begins with an idea, with imagination.

This is where there is similarity with the 10 City Bridge Run. An initiative fuelled by the believing that a triumph of imagination is possible. The other similarity is that presently there are 17,000 nuclear equipped warheads in arsenals held on earth. There will also be 17,000 children who will die today, and tomorrow, and the next day. That number is decreasing, but it is an obscene amount.

There will never be a ‘zero’ count of child mortality. Death is part and parcel to being alive. But present levels are too high, and they shape a terrible over-populated future with health issues with a food and water security crisis if not addressed. We can’t see that problem now, but it awaits us if nothing changes.

Food for thought. Take a look at the short clip from Global Zero below. Impossible: what is in a word?

An Open Letter To Anthony Lake

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Anthony Lake
Anthony Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthony Lake is a man I admire and respect greatly. We all should. He has earned it, and continues to demonstrate exceptional leadership and influence in his public role as Executive Director of UNICEF, as a further contribution he has made to a wide range of peace building initiatives since the early 1960s.

In September last year in New York during the ‘Social Good Summit’, Anthony Lake rightly described child mortality as both a moral obscenity and moral abomination. These are strong words, but justified. Today alone, 17,000 children will die across the world, mostly from one of five easily preventable causes. More must be done.

What follows is an open letter to Anthony Lake. I post it here only because I need him to act on it in the next 24 hours. Six degrees of separation holds us apart. Together, can we bridge this gap and get this letter in front of people who have the capacity and the will to influence this outcome in the interests of us all? I have no guarantee that he will read it, or act on it. Others can help. If it is within your capacity to influence the outcome I seek, would you please take action to help? This letter, while addressed to Anthony Lake is an open letter to us all.

You can help by sharing this post. Few of us can send it directly to Anthony Lake, but if we can activate the network, then we might have a chance. Help us to show that networks are our possibility factories. Help us to show that the seemingly impossible is possible, if we put our minds and hearts behind the cause.

Please forward this open letter in any way you can: share this post on Facebook, RT on Twitter, send through email, deliver in person, blog on social media. A hard copy of this letter has been printed out in New York by friends who will do their best to try to deliver it in person as well. Please help this letter get to the right person who can help make a difference. We have a short time, but an incredibly connected network capable of more than we might appreciate.

This is perhaps the first step we are taking together in opening this conversation asking: “how can we use our networks to reduce child mortality?

Thank you for starting this journey with me.
Let’s recall that African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, travel alone; If you want to travel far, then let’s go together.”

AN OPEN LETTER TO DR ANTHONY LAKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF

Dr Anthony Lake
Executive Director
UNICEF
UNICEF House
3 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017
United States

Dear Tony,

I am very excited to have been recently selected to attend the ‘Commonwealth Study Conference‘ which commences in London this weekend.

This forum provides extraordinary access, engagement and development potential. It includes a reception at Downing Street, and dinner with HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne). The focus is on fellow participants, described as being 100 of the brightest, best and most senior leaders drawn from governments, businesses and NGOs across the 54 countries of the Commonwealth. The real benefit for myself in attending the Commonwealth Study Conference is in the creation of an enabling environment for the 10 City Bridge Run such that it has the capacity for real impact in helping to reduce child mortality.

The 10 City Bridge Run is an initiative I created in 2010 that will involve me running 10 sub-marathons, each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. The running is a stunt is to open a conversation asking: “how can we use our networks to reduce child mortality?” I have uploaded a short video describing the 10 City Bridge Run at www.pozible.com/lifebridge.

I agree with your assertion that child mortality is indeed a moral abomination of our time. We must embrace new and innovative approaches. When combatting moral abomination, can we really afford to allow small efforts to fail when the cost is relatively negligible? We must be relentless in this fight:

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, and for want of a horse the man was lost.”

The 10 City Bridge Run is grounded in an idea that it is through the triumph of imagination that we are able to achieve new possibilities. Bill Shore in his 2010 book: “The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men” describes a “narrow but vitally important space between the impractical and the impossible” which he calls the “imagination gap”. He writes:

“The imagination gap is a place where hope lies waiting to be discovered, and cannot be extinguished once it has. Most failures in life are not failures of resources, or organisation, or strategy or discipline. They are failures of imagination.”

The 10 City Bridge Run draws inspiration from a quote by Ophelia Dahl (cofounder of Partners in Health and daughter of renowned children’s book author Roald Dahl) taken from a graduation speech when she quoted Adam Hochschild who earlier wrote about the importance of “drawing connections between the near and the distant”:

“Linking our own lives and fates with those we can’t see will, I believe, be the key to a decent and shared future… Imagination will allow you to make the link between the near of your lives and the distant others and will lead us to realise the plethora of connections between us and the rest of the world…and this will surely lead to ways in which you can influence others and perhaps improve the world along the way.”

I have yet to commence the 10 City Bridge Run journey because of issues related mostly to funding and injury, but remain undeterred as I recognise the importance of this initiative. The Commonwealth Study Conference opens an ideal window to finally begin this journey. My intention is to commence running in London at the end of March, and finish in New York coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September, with the journey being divided into three separate legs.

I have been accepted to the Commonwealth Study Conference on a part-bursary basis which means that I am responsible for contributing £1,000 to the programme, along with paying for international airfares (UK in March, India in June). All other costs (food, transport and accommodation) are met by the programme organiser, along with the remainder of the cost of the forum itself (£10,000)

To date, I have raised money to undertake the 10 City Bridge Run through the pre-sale of a book containing 100 photographs of ‘human bridges’ called Life Bridge. This crowdfunded approach has sought to encourage a broad base of participation with books being sold for $24 (soft-cover) or $240 (hard-cover). While I have raise sufficient money to start the journey, I have yet to secure enough funding to see the journey through to its completion, and am asking for your help.

I have a deadline by Thursday to raise a small amount of money to enable me to commence this journey, enhanced through attendance at the Commonwealth Study Conference to amplify the conversation.

I now face an immediate challenge where I have an unique opportunity, but lack the necessary funding to act. Given the urgency child mortality presents as a moral abomination, to delay the 10 City Bridge Run would be a lost opportunity to increase our collective capacity for action, influence and impact through a conversation asking how can we use our networks to reduce child mortality.

I am asking for your help both in your capacity to influence in your current position at UNICEF, and perhaps more importantly in your ability to respond as a fellow human being who cares about the lives of millions of children which hang in the balance. I need to raise $5,000 in the next 48 hours in order to undertake this journey.  Can you help? Please help me to help you to help others.

I invite you to join this journey through your support of the 10 City Bridge Run. Would you please visit www.pozible.com/lifebridge where you could pre-purchase a copy of the book Life Bridge for either $24 or $240 that will enable this journey? Alternatively, because of the time constraint, a deposit could be made directly to my account with a follow up email to ensure transparency for funds received (Matthew Jones, BSB 062220 , Account Number 10127834).

This is an enormous task, and I cannot do it alone. Please help to make this journey possible so that we might together work to reduce child mortality through the use of our networks. Thank you for your consideration and your support.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones

Sydney, Australia
12 March 2013

Our networks are possibility factories

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Anthony Lake 0c175 7744
Anthony Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Making change happen, real change, change that matters, requires more than a simple signing of a petition.

Petitions are important, because our networks are possibility factories. Alone, few people take the hard yards required to change something. But every movement, every change begins inside someone’s head, it moves into a conversation, and soon others become involved. The network is engaged and a tipping point is reached.

Our networks are possibilities factories indeed, and petitions provide a signal to these networks of where action should be mobilised. Not all of these efforts are successful, but that is not the point. Some are, and we should be careful in what we measure as success. Innovation requires having a stomach for the bitter taste of failure, and the tough mindset to build again and tweak what didn’t work the last time failure was encountered.

Anthony Lake, the Executive Director at UNICEF spoke about how we should get involved through a petition which was launched last September called ‘A Promise Renewed’. It is a good initiative, and takes the form of a pledge.

Here is what UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said to explain the pledge:

Sign the pledge, which will mean you’re pledging to do what you can to change behavior in your communities — you’ll encourage local NGOs to sign the pledge and to work harder, you’ll pledge to advocate your governments to follow through on their pledges and make real progress. You can make a difference.

Read that again. Everyone signs the pledge, and we can make a difference? Well no, it does imply that someone is doing the work, and puts the emphasis reasonably enough on NGOs and governments. Assuming that they are working hard to solve the problem and not just working hard to maintain brand and reputation.

What is at stake? Tony Lake’s closing words are worth noting. These are strong words, and I hope used for more than just dramatic effect at the conference in New York where they were spoken last September:

[We should all] start advocating with [our] governments to live up to their commitments to do everything we can to save children from what is a moral abomination. If we don’t do it, shame on us.

To paraphrase Georges Clemenceau: “A moral abomination is too important to be left to our governments.” We must act as well. Our networks are the possibility factories. This is the premise of the 10 City Bridge Run.

From child mortality to child survival: what’s in a name?

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Same the world over (Photo credit: Save the Children)

Ok, so there seems to be a new phrase entering the lexicon of child health.

‘Child mortality’ is being used less frequently in favour to the use of ‘child survival’.

What’s in a name? Does this really make a difference at all? I think it does. It is a more optimistically framed language, which sets our minds looking towards the solution, rather than the seemingly impossible wall of death to overcome.

Changing the name doesn’t change the facts. We are still falling short, and there is more work to be done. But with a renewed focus, maybe at least we can have a clearer view on where our emphasis is best placed.

Change your thinking: it is a matter of perspective

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Hans Rosling at TED
Hans Rosling at TED (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The avuncular Hans Rosling joins us again to explain where the focus on child mortality ought to be placed across the world’s 7 billion people, and whether tackling this issue will make a difference.

In his idiosyncratic way to craft a story that is as simple as it is engaging, he presents one of the most pressing and complex problems very clearly.

His message: Yes, there is hope for the future! We can make a difference in this lifetime to child mortality.

He does leave us with one request: change your thinking. Stop thinking about developed and developing countries, because it is unhelpful in focusing on those people where the real need is found.

Good message to reflect on next time you go to grab a coffee mug: we can make a difference.