I’m looking ahead a few short weeks to when I will complete the end of this running stunt in New York which I began in Port Moresby on Papua New Guinea Independence Day in September this year.
The running stunt has consisted of running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km, in 10 cities across 10 countries. The stunt is to open a conversation asking a question asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
It wasn’t until I reached Osaka which was the fourth city where I ran, that I had an insight to this series of Design Forums that would unfold to address that question. Up until that time, I had envisaged one Design Forum to cap off the running stunt where the whole conversation would come together.
One conversation would not be enough. There are many voices and many ideas. Ideas that need to be played out, tested, refined and developed. That involves time. Additionally, there are different culture, different languages, different time zones. Across the space of two weeks, our lives can change. What are we likely to observe across a period of eight months?
In Osaka, I had an insight that the Design Forums were going to be a journey in themselves. It wouldn’t have worked out to convene these Design Forum while I have been running. I know things now I didn’t know at the beginning of the journey. It has been a necessary journey.
Was it the best way to make a difference? Hard to say. Will we make a difference? Well, we won’t know until we make the journey. Will it be worth it? Define ‘worth it’.
When I run those final metres in this journey in New York, I will have covered 240 km across a marathon effort which has joined 10 cities that offer a lot to this conversation, and all which have no other connecting link to this conversation about child survival. It is the running journey that will make the Design Forum possible.
Of course, there are plenty of other lessons learnt along the way too. I have done the hard work to date, but come next year when we commence the Design Forum, the conversation will open to one of participation and collaboration more than has been the case now.
To get there, I need some help. Already, many people have been extremely generous. I am seeking to win the support of 240 people who have yet to support the 10 City Bridge Run who might all be in a position to make a small contribution of $10. The remainder of this journey is especially important to me because for me it is a tribute to my brother. That doesn’t diminish the cause of creating a space where we can all work together to ask how we might improve the delivery of child survival.
Would you please help? Would you please share this link to someone who might be able to contribute $10. You might want to make a contribution yourself, and even if it only a small sum that is enough to buy a cup of coffee, I would appreciate it. It will help us to reach our destination. https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/epic-quest-to-honour-my-brother-s-legacy/x/1194797
Straight up, the reasons for all of the delays, and all of the amendments in my route since leaving Australia have related to resources. Money.
It seems so crass, and I don’t know why it is such an obstacle for me to address, but it is.
It is my intention to take the next steps by flying to London, then onto Glasgow on Saturday. Flying direct to Glasgow would be too expensive.
I will work out the rest of the journey once I get to Glasgow, but it is important to note that I am now committed to this journey.
My brothers funeral is in Melbourne, and it is now outside of my reach to return for that. And so I must honour him by moving forward.
But this journey is not actually about me, and it is neither about my brother.
My brother has come to represent the issue of child survival for me in some respects. His son died 36 hours after birth due to medical complications. Even with the best possible medical support, we can’t cheat death. That said, he battled and for a time won in the fight against leukaemia. Ultimately, it was an aggressive infection that caused his death. The body is robust as it is fragile. And this journey is about the most vulnerable among us: children during their first five years.
If you listen to Bill Gates, you soon realise that child survival is not just about saving babies. Child survival is important because it is one of the key levers in the struggle to move countries out of extreme poverty. It is counter-intuitive. It would seem reasonable that reducing child mortality would just lead to overpopulation, but an analysis of historical trends shows that the opposite is true. Improved child survival leads to healthier and more sustainable communities.
Presently, I am embarked on a running stunt to paint a narrative for the journey ahead. I am running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. To date, I have completed seven of these runs and have three cities remaining. That brings be back to this issue of resources. I have the will, but the cost is prohibitive presently.
But why run? Why not just talk about it and solve the problem? The reality is that there are so many competing demands, and our understanding of the issue has been in some cases so poorly framed by the marketing spin of large not-for-profits, that a strong narrative is needed to look at this afresh.
More than that, this initiative is different. I am asking how might we use our networks to make a difference. It is not simply a case of leaning on governments, large philanthropists, or the aid agencies for that matter. All existing efforts in the fight for child survival are essential. But I do believe there is more we can do, and so that is why this series of Design Forum will take place.
The Design Forum will be held in each of the cities that I run in. The running is pathfinding the way ahead.
How badly do I want this?
Ultimately, that will coming down to asking people for their support. There is no way around that. The question is, what will the conversation be, and what will I do in exchange for their support.
After the last crowdfunding effort ended, it seemed clear that I had tapped out my networks. I was done. Or so it seemed.
My thinking is this: I need to stick with what I have. Sharpen it up. Explain it better. And give it all I have got. Really give of myself.
I am seriously wanting to address child survival. I am also excruciatingly sensitive to the fact that many people have generously given amounts to support this already. And their generosity alone is reason enough to continue.
I think given all of the events of the past two weeks, and the fact that it is brothers funeral tomorrow, I should recommit to a final crowdfunding campaign, with the amounts I am asking of people capped at small levels. Something like the opportunity to buy my brother a coffee for the last time, or to shout me Christmas dinner as I will be running across the festive season and intending to be back in Australia to celebrate New Year with my mum. I think I need to let people help define what this might involve.
That means I am looking at many people contributing small amounts of something like $5 or $24. And there would be something in exchange, but I don’t want to make it transactional.
Would it be too much to ask for 400 or so people do each contribute $24 across the next two weeks?
So this is my ask: please let me know what you think. I intend to post tonight, and somehow during the period of my brothers funeral, it would be awesome if we could spread the love to those who are able to support so that together we can make a difference. Forwarding an email or post to someone who wants to help is part of the team too, you know.
Let’s make this count. We are going to do it for all of us. Let’s roll.