Five Books For Change
Last December, I was standing on a bridge crossing the Clyde River n Glasgow which was completely shrouded in fog. I stopped a moment to record a short video to Bill and Melinda Gates, and asked them for their recommendation of five books to help make change happen.
Maybe you saw this video if you were following my journey. It was the day after I had run the eighth leg of the 10 City Bridge Run that concluded in January this year where I ran across 10 cities as a stunt to open a conversation about improving child survival.
The video is below, and while I have forwarded it through social media, I don’t now that I have exhausted every avenue to pass the message to Bill and Melinda Gates. And even if it did reach their gatekeepers, there is no guarantee that they would see it personally, or even have the time to respond.
Well, I haven’t given up on them, and will keep looking for ways to send this “message in a bottle” to them.
In the meantime, I made my own list of Five Books For Change that have most influenced my thinking as I worked through the 10 City Bridge Run epic quest ahead of a series of Design Forums to ask “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
And here is the list, and in no particular order. They are all great books!
- Glimmer: how design can transform your business, your life, and maybe even the world, Warren Berger, Random House Nosiness Books, 2009
- Reframe: how to solve the world’s trickiest problems, Eric Knight, Black Inc, 2012
- On Becoming An Artist: reinventing yourself through mindful creativity, Ellen J. Langer, Ballantine Books, 2005
- The End Of Poverty: how we can make it happen in our lifetime, Jeffrey Sachs (forward by Bono), Penguin Books, 2005
- The Imaginations Of Unreasonable Men: inspiration, vision, and purpose in the quest to end malaria, Bill Shore, Public Affairs, 2010
There were other books as well that I had to cut from the list. I asked Bill and Melinda Gates for five books, and so I limited myself to five books too.
You might have a different opinion, or some other books that I didn’t consider. I hope you do, and I hope you might share them here too! Write a review of your favourite book for making change happen as it relates to improving the delivery of child survival, and I’ll add it here on the blog (you write the blog and I can post it without editing it).
As for getting in touch with Bill and Melinda, well I’m sill trying. You can help by forwarding this blog, and the video message to the Gates’ is shown below. Personally, I like the list I have already, but this journey is about building a conversation and sharing how we see the world, so it would be nice to know how they think and what they would recommend we read!
Another ‘Talking Shop’?
Bono was sublime in his criticism of efforts to address issues of child mortality back in 2011 at Davos where he talks about moving past having just another ‘talking shop’. Watch from 27:00 to 32:00 where he exhorts us all to strive for a 10 out of 10.
What should we make of Bono? Pin-Up for causes like Make Poverty History. What do you see- authenticity or dissonance?
In December U2 will bring the ludicrously ambitious U2 360º tour- described as the largest rock show of all time- to Australia. Andrew Murfett writing in the Sydney Morning Herald reports:
The numbers behind the show are mind-boggling. The tour costs about $750,000 a day to run; its stage, which weighs 390 tonnes, requires two 50 tonne cranes, 180 trucks and six chartered cargo-only 747s to transport.
Murfett goes on to write that the show’s aim- to create an intimate relationship between the band and the 90,000 people each night is regularly achieved.
“Being successful is a lot easier than being relevant” is a claim Bono makes.
Bono is remarkable. Along with U2 they have been recording music which has drawn wide acclaim since 1980 when their first album Boy was released.
Bono says an important part of his role is understanding the world his songs occupy and, if he can, attempting to help shape those issues. When U2 were in Russia for their first concert eight weeks ago, Bono had a 90-minute meeting with the President, Dmitry Medvedev. The U2 concert in Russia was controversial the next day not least for them bringing Russian dissident Yuri Shevchek on stage. Murfett writes that Bono has an unparalleled ability to parlay his profile into helping causes. Bono says:
You have to do both. You have to be able to speak with the government and also those who are the enemy of the government. That’s our gig.
So how is he regarded outside of the adoring coterie of fans who also champion his causes? “Generally it’s more ‘rockstar/arsehole’. It’s ‘Oh, that’s Bono, he’s the rockstar/arsehole'” is how Bono describes it.
I found it interesting to reflect on this after David Suzuki spoke at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday night. Different methods to achieve the same point? Consider it this way: what would the world be like without the Bono’s and Hugh Jackman’s who roam the world raising profile of these causes?
Raising awareness is a long and slow process. My mate Matt da Silva described the process as involving “Cut-through. Telling stories. Engagement. Stamina.” during the week. I though that was insightful.
Let’s give the last word to Bono:
I just like getting things done.
Bono shows the power of a bridge
Bono, who has been a vocal advocate for issues including the eradication of extreme poverty, demonstrate the power in the metaphor of a bridge recently in Turkey. See the link here. You have to hand it to Bono- he gets around…in the photo in this blog he is featured at the 2008 World Economic Forum. Kudos!
Yesterday Hugh Jackman wrote an Op-Ed about global poverty in the Sydney Morning Herald. Many of the comments suggested that the only thing Hugh Jackman was qualified to speak about was acting…
Should we care about what anyone else thinks about global poverty, and is it right to give a louder voice to the rock-stars who step up to the microphone to advance this issue? Bono, Jackman, Jolie, now even Madonna!