Caring For Our People and Our Cities (Annex A: Executive Summary for 9 City Bridge Run After Action Review)

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Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

The 9 City Bridge Run was a global endurance challenge where Matt Jones ran nine sub-marathon distances across nine cities in five countries in the space of one month between 4 September and 5 October 2009. The cities were: San Francisco, New York, London, Oxford, Dublin, Tokyo, Alice Springs, Canberra and Sydney. A blog record of the event is at http://www.9citybridgerun.com.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of resilience and wellbeing as a counter-point in addressing the combined prevalence and stigma of depression, anxiety and suicide.

A free public forum was held at the Barnett Long Room in Circular Quay, Sydney on 26 October 2009 to culminate the awareness raising effort from the 9 City Bridge Run. The event was captured on video and is available for people to see online.

The symbolism of a bridge was used as a metaphor connecting people, communities, cities and ideas.

This After Action Review is written in the form of a personal reflective think-piece on resilience, connectedness, failure, courage and an industry of fund-raising. These are issues of social leadership affecting how we care for our people and our cities (be that defined with a local or a global perspective is entirely at the discretion of the reader) which should prompt discussions about the efficacy of fundraising and Corporate Social Responsibility programs aimed at affecting social change.

The reluctance of people to confront this issue due to the stigma attached is totally underestimated in our communities.

We need to be more caring in the way we respond to others in our communities, which applies to those we don’t know as much as those who we know as friends, family and work colleagues.

An understanding of resilience and wellbeing should go beyond discrete sponsored programs and initiatives and have a greater impact when developing and shaping policy in any organisation, be that government, business or community group.

Families themselves ought to be places where people can seek support on issues of a difficult nature. Similarly, circles of friendship should take on this burden of responsibility for support that often is not possible to achieve through engagement in families due to strained relationships and tensions.

I argue we should re-examine motivations away from recognition and celebrity to be more based on the concept of ‘servant leadership’ (after Greenleaf) and care for ‘the other’ in the true spirit of philanthropy, mateship and social responsibility.

Bridge building between people is of greater importance than clever marketing campaigns.

How incredibly sad it is that in our society of accessibility today there can be any problem worth killing yourself over at such a young age. The prevalence of this issue is outrageous, and tragically remains muffled by the stigma with which the taboo is accompanied.

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