Conception Comes Before Birth

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IMG_0351A nine month journey will begin shortly. It will be uncertain, full of expectation, and at the end of which there will be the emerging of something which at the time of writing this post was only a glimmer in my eye.

It is a journey that starts with an intimate partnership of sorts. That part, the union with others, is unavoidable. It will be messy, fun, maybe full of passion. But for the nine month journey to be successful at the conclusion, at the beginning something must be created.

During this process, a new entity will be woven together, in a process that creates new life. It is an astounding feat, many would describe as a miracle.

Yes, we are birthing an idea. And I want you to be more than just a casual observer. Coyly, I’m asking you to help conceive this with me. Would you….?

Perhaps this description is comical, and maybe more dramatic than is needed. Commencing next week is the beginning of a nine month epic journey called the Design Forum where we will address a question asking “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

I was describing the vision for the Design Forum that would follow the epic journey that was the 10 City Bridge Run on the eve of the final leg in New York to my good friend Kelley when she identified that it was a journey of nine months. She questioned whether gender played a role in how the Design Forum unfolded. It was a good question: guys and girls think differently. We bring different life experience to the table. Biologically there are core differences which shape our function.

This doesn’t mean that we have ‘male’ roles and ‘female’ roles. That would be too limiting and prescriptive. What it does do though is open the process of the Design Forum to be seen as taking place across loosely the equivalent amount of time that it takes for human pregnancy.

Together, we really are engaging on the process of an idea. Actually, many ideas. And the metaphor extends beyond that further. This endeavour is about enabling life, not so much creating life, but preventing death in order to sustain a flourishing existence. This is important beyond the reasons that would appear obvious. Reducing child mortality is counter-intuitively the best way to contribute to the ending of extreme poverty, and by doing so to improve quality of life, improve health and infrastructure, and these things lead to opportunities for education where currently there are few, and ultimately contain population growth.

Improving child survival is too often the punch line of a funding appeal from an institutional aid agency, but what does it actually involve? There are few silver bullets, and it will involve a lot of hard work. But one thing we can know for sure: it all begins with the birth of an idea sewn from our imaginations.

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