Community

The Story Of The Man With No Shoes

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IMG_2947Ben and I are old school mates from back in Melbourne. It is the same school also attended by my brother Stephen who regrettably died last week.

Shortly after Stephen’s death, Ben told me an old Chinese story about the man with no shoes.

In light of the events in Martin Place this week, I thought it was worth repeating here too. Suffice to say it has been a big week for everyone in Sydney as people pick up their lives and crack on.

As a side note before I write the story, I guess I was observing from afar with a unique perspective as my own grief was unfolding.

This is the story of the man with no shoes: The man with no shoes takes pity on the man with no feet.

Stay strong Sydney. There are better days ahead, and there will be challenges too.

The wonderful thing about empathy grounded in love is that it is an inexhaustible resource.

The light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

Bridging relationships to reduce child mortality.

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It begins with me and you

This is a picture of me with my mother when I was much younger- I guess around two years old. We are standing on the nature strip of our old house in inner-city Melbourne. Great photo isn’t it!

Today is my mother’s birthday. Happy birthday Mum! I have come a long way since this photo. A lot has happened in the years between.

The 10 City Bridge Run is about bridging relationships to reduce child mortality.

Life is fragile. Most child mortality tragically is influenced within the first 48 hours of birth. Similarly, maternal health is influenced by the health available during pregnancy and at birth.

The risks of pregnancy and child-birth remain despite our technology. We are just better prepared, educated and equipped to ensure a high proportion of births. In Papua New Guinea where I recently visited, they experience the second-highest rate of child mortality in Asia Pacific. It is something that doesn’t attract much publicity. It is just plain sad.

Building bridges to reduce child mortality is difficult enough to understand as an abstract concept, let alone to do in reality. There are almost too many challenges to consider, but I believe if we together on a global scale focus on relationships to reduce child mortality then change can occur.

Bridging relationships between two people is where this starts. Sure, the ultimate result is across a global stage, but the important start is here between you and me. It is about us. It takes work, more work than wearing a wrist band. It is not always going to be easy, but it will be worthwhile.

Tomorrow I will show you the first small collection of photographs of human bridges that I have taken to communicate how together we can bridge relationships to reduce child mortality. Join me by helping me build this collection and contributing your own photos.

Let me start leading by example with this photo of my mother. Bridging conversations that sometimes seem unbridgeable. Together, we can show that the seemingly impossible really is possible.

More from Suzuki: Think locally, act locally

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David Suzuki at a rally for the Global Day of ...

Thoughts from David Suzuki speaking at the Sydney Opera House continue to resonate through this week.

He challenged one of his earlier assumptions in the talk. The previous cry of “Think global, act local” he suggested was well-intended but ultimately ineffective.

To be effective on a global level, he suggested the power of collective action when we “think locally and act locally”.

An important part of this is not being deluded by large brands, government and the allure of the economy. He summed it up this way:

Politicians work within a political cycle. People don’t.

Dissonance in Community Wellbeing

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Reading a number of corporate website over the last few weeks I sense an incongruous use of the terms ‘Community Wellbeing’ and ‘Sustainability’. Have a look yourself. Visit four or five large corporate brands and see if you agree.

‘Greenwashing’ is a term used for the promotion of sustainable strategy with no real substance, or concern for brand and reputation above impact. I would argue there is a similar trend with respect to corporate social responsibility in general.

Who decides on the boundaries for defining community? Where does our responsibility begin and end? Granted that we can’t be respond to every problem or need, and have our own concerns to address.

We live in an connected world. Is there a point of decency as humans where for humanitarian reasons alone we will not allow unthinkable suffering to occur? Or is it just not our problem? Should we just look to the wellbeing of our own community?

What will Africa look like in 2050? How does this question challenge your understanding of the term ‘community wellbeing’?