The next series of posts are essentially draft entries in the soon to be published book “All Backswing” which I am aiming for launch at the end of June 2016.
All Backswing will feature 100 chapters to talk about a manifesto for change by examining the motivation for what eventually became the 10 City Bridge Run, commentary about the journey itself, and importantly lessons learnt as it relates to undertaking epic endeavours that seek to make a difference.
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The book is being written for you. If you like something, please let me know. If you have questions, please ask me. If you think I am off the path, tell me. Your feedback is like oxygen to me. Thank you in advance.
It’s been a while, in fact too long.
I’m not sure I posted since December around the time I completed an art work that was on display at the local art gallery. The work titled “All Greatness Stands Firm In The Storm” was part of an exhibition themed “Turning Point”.
This art work featured my interpretation of the naval signal flag for “I require assistance (non-distress)”. This flag is identified by a red diagonal cross over a white background. The point of the work was that through the painting and exhibition of this canvas, I was signalling my acceptance that I could not do this journey on my own. It was an admission that I need help.
I need help. Three words that are easy to write, but difficult for me to express. As a statement, it is fine. As a request, it is as though I even need help to ask for help. I think that qualifies me for the category of lost causes and basket cases…
More on that painting later. Not in this post, but later. Here, I want to talk about what I have been doing in this past few months, and update you about this project: the 10 City Bridge Run.
So firstly, what have I been doing? I have been taking stock of a few things, as if I needed to allow the momentum of the previous journey to reach its culmination and come to a halt along that trajectory before riding the fresh movement towards the the next steps. That sounds like complete claptrap, and if that is what you are thinking then you are probably mostly right. Those who know me best would sense my idiosyncratic avoidance.
So why avoidance? Why didn’t I hoist the painting on this blog? What was holding me back?
All good questions, and to be honest I don’t have a satisfactory answer. I do know, deep down. There has been some make and mend needed. But epic questions are epic because they are inherently hard. If there was no struggle, it wouldn’t be worth writing about. Hiding from difficulty is I think a fairly common experience among humans. I’m guessing that you might have done this too at some point in time. If that is the case, then maybe you can relate to what it is I am trying to describe here.
The painting is still here. It is sitting in my living room, and as I promised I will write about that soon, but not right now.
I want to tell you what else I have been doing in relation to this journey.
If you have been following this blog in the past, you might remember that I was going to describe this past journey with 100 photographs. It became an overwhelming aspiration, and clearly that has not yet happened. In fact, that tapestry of 100 photographs ended up becoming the simply expression of the artwork featuring the naval signal flag for “I require assistance” which I mentioned above.
And so what happened to the 100 photographs? Well, those have taken the form of a book I am writing that reflects on what I have learnt from this journey to date. I am probably about half-way through, and I am keen to finish the book before the end of May, which is possible to do. The book features 100 chapters that outline the motivation for what became the 10 City Bridge Run, a commentary of the journey itself, and a third part which examines some of the lessons I have learnt about seeking to do something in order to make a difference.
I was going to wait until it was complete before I started sharing this writing, but I now realise that in the spirit of the collaborative process, that it is much better to put some of what I have written out there here for you to read as I set about this task. I welcome you to read, comment, correct, share, add to, and even help illustrate with you own examples or art.
My aim in sharing this book here is to write with more gusto, knowing that some people are reading. I am writing it for you, not essentially for me. I would like to have this book finalised and published, ready for launch at the end of June. I think that is ambitious, but achievable.
And secondly, what has become of the 10 City Bridge Run? Let me again first express my thanks to everyone who has supported this journey. None of this was possible without your help. Thank you.
At the beginning of 2015, I completed the running journey for the 10 City Bridge Run. I have yet to publish the book “Life Bridge” which I owe all of the supporters. And I am less than satisfied that I have been successful in convening the conversation to address the question: “how might we use our networks to deliver on the promise to improve child survival?” That conversation was the point of the whole endeavour. I see the journey as still a work in progress, even if that means it is long overdue.
So what comes next? This book I am writing turns out to be necessary for me to complete in order to allow the other things to happen. It is a big undertaking, and I believe it is worthwhile. Thanks for giving me this space to explore this territory.
Without linking this to a timeline, the book “Life Bridge” will be completed this year and distributed to all the supporters. I also see a renewed effort taking place to pick up this conversation about child survival, again using running as a stunt to draw attention to what needs to unfold. At this point in time, that is all I want to say about what is ahead. The only other point is to say that the journey continues, and that it could not have been possible without your help.
I need your help. That is both a statement and a request.
Thank you. Let’s get to work.
We have come a long way.
Starting in Port Moresby on 16 September 2014, coinciding with Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day, was important. Papua New Guinea is a country that is unlikely to meet all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the end of 2015. The troubling progress experienced by Papua New Guinea in reducing child mortality made it an appropriate place to start this journey called the 10 City Bridge Run where we seek to open a conversation asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
The 10 City Bridge Run is a citizen-led initiative conceived in 2010, which has taken until now to commence. It was framed within the context of the MDGs which seek to reduce global poverty from 1990 levels by two-thirds before 2015. MDG4 is to reduce child mortality.
In 2010, aid agencies pointed to the appalling rate of child mortality per day, measured then using 2008 data, estimated as 24,000 children under the age of five dying every single day. I chose to run ten sub-marathons each of 24km in 10 cities across 10 countries as a stunt to open this conversation about child survival.
There are three basic elements to this initiative: (1) A running stunt involving 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries, (2) Publication of a book titled ‘Life Bridge’ featuring an inspiring photo-essay on the theme of ‘human bridges’ to illustrate the importance of our connections, and (3) Perhaps most importantly, a series of Design Forum to be held during 2015 where the conversation to ask the question: ‘how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?’ will be opened to shape impact.
After running in Port Moresby, the journey traveled through Sydney, Singapore, Osaka, New Delhi and most recently the Chinese coastal city of Shanhaigeun. I’m writing this reflection from Seoul ahead of the seventh leg of the 10 City Bridge Run.
At the end of a last week, a crowdfunding campaign to sustain this journey ended, falling significantly short of the target. Even in light of this setback, I consider progress to date has been successful.
The following nine lessons learnt explain why I believe our progress has been successful to date, and what this means for the next steps in this journey to improve the delivery of child survival.
Here is the list of the Nine Lessons which will be discussed in the posts that follow (hyperlinks to be added once all posted):
- Lesson One. Feel the frustration that the journey is not yet complete.
- Lesson Two. Deep personal commitment is needed to perform stunts.
- Lesson Three. The view from the other side is better, but you won’t know until you get there.
- Lesson Four. Lead by example by learning.
- Lesson Five. Get people to ask why.
- Lesson Six. Take the pressure off and change the conversation.
- Lesson Seven. We underestimate the influence of our encouragement.
- Lesson Eight. Keep moving forward.
- Lesson Nine. Expressing a silent tribute.