Month: January 2015
I friend reminded me of the humourous epitaph written by Walter Savage Landor on the weekend:
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife.
- Nature I loved, and, next to nature, Art;
I warm’d both hands before the fire of Life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.
Strove is the past tense of to strive which means “to make great efforts to achieve or obtain something”.
Hard work and the ability to persevere are their own reward quite often. After completing the first phase of the 10 City Bridge Run, having run an impossible journey around the world. I can say that I strove.
The Design Forum which mark the next phase in this epic quest are an opportunity for us to strive together.
Landor was most likely being idiosyncratically facetious with his short poem, and without getting lost in borrowing from the meaning of the poem, I can say that I want to strive with all of you, as the issue we are contending for is well worth our strife: improving the delivery of child survival.
Last week, I stumbled across a graffiti scrawled outside one of the many Chinese markets on Mott Street in New York. I don’t know if the author intentionally departed from Landor, but I think his inspiration is one we can share in together moving forward. You can see it at the photo on this page, and it reads:
Warm your hands with the invisible fire of hope!!!
So, please join me. Let us strive together, so that we can look back and say that we strove for something worth our strife.
It would be understandable that some people might be asking what am I still doing in New York now that I have completed the running stunt framing the 10 City Bridge Run. Or to put that another way, what happens now that the running is concluded?
It was my intention to have already left New York so as to travel to Melbourne where I need to spend some long-overdue time with my family in the wake of my brother’s death. It wasn’t my plan to be away this long.
There has been a delay, as if there weren’t enough delays already encountered with getting the 10 City Bridge Run to this point. Right now, I am waiting for the dispersement of funds raised during the final legs of the 10 City Bridge Run to be deposited into my bank account. The fundraising concluded on the evening of 1 January (US time), but the dispersement wasn’t put into effect until about 24 hours ago. Put simply, those funds are needed to enable me to take the next steps, which includes leaving New York. In many respects, and in a very real sense, I am stuck until that money clears.
But just as delay and obstacle encountered during the running stunt of the 10 City Bridge Run gave rise to opportunity in unexpected ways, I am likely to return to Australia a little later than anticipated again, and travelling via a circuitous route that goes via Osaka and Seoul.
One reason for the extended route home is that it is cheaper. It actually works out cheaper (and less painful in terms of flying hours) to travel with a broken journey via Asia. The cost is slightly less than a single flight from New York to Australia.
How this opportunity to travel via Asia to Australia rather than going direct from New York came about was trying to resolve how I might attend a scheduled appointment I have in Seoul on 21 January. Additionally, my concern was how to best coordinate planning for the first of the Design Forum to be held in Osaka during the period 10-12 February 2015.
Talking about something as a foreigner to that city might sound interesting, but it needs to be followed up with credible action for people to take you seriously. Having the opportunity to return to Osaka for a couple of days allows a requisite degree of consent and consensus from the host organisation in Osaka. It would be entirely unreasonable to fire off a couple of emails and expect for things to fall into place.
I will fly to Seoul after Osaka, which will be an opportunity to build some interest among possible satellite organisations who could participate in the first Design Forum from a location other than Osaka. Having one organisation agree to participate creates a model for others to follow.
Seoul is also the location for the final Design Forum, and so provides an opportunity for meaningful discussions around what might be possible and what might be needed to make the possible happen.
This first Design Forum is important to build momentum and a sense of identity for the conversation that follows. In the coming days, I will frame my vision of what that might look like, and welcome your involvement, steering and participation to make it a good event.
My friend Mary raised an idea a few weeks ago which was to explore ways of schools getting involved in the Design Forum. I think her idea is brilliant, and we are looking for other opportunities like that to expand and grow the opportunity for the Design Forum as a coherent and scalable conversation to address the important question driving this process asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
In the meantime, I have very cheap digs at an idiosyncratic New York flop-house, and will be using the few days I have remaining in the city to build support here and other cities as we move forward towards achieving this epic quest.
On Saturday 3 January 2015, I completed the final leg of an epic quest by running the 10th leg of 24 km in New York on a cold, wet and dark night.
To recap: back in August 2010, I announced my intention to commence a journey called the 10 City Bridge Run. Four years later than anticipated, I concluded the first leg of this journey which involved a stunt running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. The stunt was designed to open a conversation asking an important question: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
In those four years, it has not been an easy journey, even though for the most part it might have seen from an outsiders perspective that there seemed to be little happening until September 2014. Suffice to say that starting anything takes effort and involves accepting risk. It has been difficult, but it has also been worthwhile.
Literally only a few people, less than a handful, are actually aware of how hard that journey has been. Maybe I ought to have shared more about those difficulties, but I think I was right not to because the journey is not actually about me. It is about us.
I couldn’t have done this without you. Please read that last sentence again for emphasis. Actually, that last sentence “I couldn’t have done this without you” needs some clarification. I knew I would need help to make this journey possible, but was unaware of how reliant I would be for support in ways I never expected from you. I needed the help you gave to get to this point, and perhaps just as importantly if not of more significance, this is a journey ‘we’ are on together, and so I couldn’t have become the ‘us’ without your involvement.
The contribution from some might seem to them insignificant. “I did nothing!” you might protest. I just want you to kn ow that encouragement even through a simple comment or liking a post from time to time carries with it greater influence than you might ever know. So thank you. And especially to the many supporters, this journey is as much as your achievement as it is of mine, regardless of when you joined the journey. We are in this together.
While we are now some distance down the road from the idea where this journey began, this quest is only just beginning now. This is an epic journal rich with metaphor. People have told me about their reflections about what I am doing and the metaphor they identify in the journey, and more often than not I am surprised how they see it from a perspective I never considered. And there is plenty of more meaning to come that all of us have yet to identify or explore.
While the journey has only begun, this is not an exercise is the abstract exploration of a literary device. This journey has meaning. The running stunt of this journey allowed us to arrive at the start point of what we are really here to do, rather than a destination.
Yes, the real journey is about to begin. That journey essentially comes in two parts:
- Co-creation of a book called Life Bridge which will feature 100 photos of human bridges to illustrate the importance of connection to meet a grand challenge, in this case our quest to improve the delivery of child survival. Everyone who has supported the journey to date will receive a copy as has been my obligation to you from the beginning of this journey.
- A series of Design Forum to be held in the cities where running took place to address the central challenge to the 10 City Bridge Run which asks: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
I certainly have many ideas about what these two aspects of the journey ought to look like, but this is where there is some definite transition from a very difficult pursuit that I was undertaking largely as the central actor and at considerable personal risk to myself, to one where we will together be responsible for driving the outcome and where the risk is essentially to try ideas on for size and see what works and what doesn’t. The journey ahead is the sum of our collective dreams, our collective imaginations, and reaching out to many experts with the specialist knowledge that we need to guide the conversation. We can afford to be bold, but we also need to make sure it is well planned and well executed. Don’t worry – I’m not going anywhere, and will continue to serve by leading. I might be tired from the running, but I am totally invigorated to work together as we embark on the next chapter of this epic quest.
But as I get my thoughts together after finishing this first part of the journey to open the conversation that follows, I wanted to first say thank you.
This is also an opportunity to open up the conversation to ask (how) would you like to be involved in the conversation going forward? Spectators are welcome too! And if you have just stumbled across this for the first time, welcome aboard!
In the meantime, I have a lot to share that I want to post here. Many photos and videos from the trip, many thoughts, and especially many small conversation starters to orientate the focus better towards child survival.
This is a big undertaking and we are just getting started.