Petition

Map Check: preamble to the Design Forum

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IMG_1461The 10 City Bridge Run Design Forum is a series of 10 events that will be convened in the 10 cities where running took place during the 10 City Bridge Run. The entire focus of the Design Forum is to address the central question to the 10 City Bridge Run which asks: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

Making decisions, and working out how to collaborate are two key tasks which we will need to work out how to do together. There are some obvious difficulties with that: we are in different time zones, we are not in the same location, not all of us speak the same language, access and ability to use technology is not evenly distributed. But we all share one trump card that can help us overcome any challenge: our imagination is the freely available resource that will make this possible.

Success will really come down to imagination. Imagination will drive the solutions to challenges of communication, collaboration, decision making. Resource issues, access to people, gaining information and knowledge are practical challenges and very real, but will also be overcome through imagination.

How to communicate and collaborate, and the platforms we might adopt to best enable this, remains the biggest immediate question to answer.

It is not simple, but it is possible.

At the conception of this idea back in 2010, it was an impossibility at that time. Now we are closer to making it happen. And if we can come this far, how much more can we achieve that we don’t know is possible from where we stand now?

This post provides some preliminary thoughts to a framework for the Design Forum which follows in the next post. This post is like a map which we can refer to. But what is important is that we don’t confuse the map for the territory. The plan will be amended and change. Ideas will emerge that are more expansive than we know now.

There will be 10 Design Forums. Well, there may in fact be more should people take the initiative to organise their own in a location other than the 10 key locations which this post relates to. The structure and conduct of each Design Forum can be, and possibly should be, distinct from those which precede it. The length of time (in days and hours) for each Design Forum is almost unimportant. We will need ‘enough time’ to do what we need to do, and this will depend on having clarity on a desired outcome at each step of the way.

The Design Forum are a conversation. Anyone can join, at anytime. We all have busy schedules, and so it is completely expected that people might drop in and out of the conversation. It is across a duration of nine months, and many personal events will take place in that time, some good and some less so. As a community, it is reasonable to expect that we can celebrate and if needed to commiserate  in the news of others. The focus is child survival, but it is also a very human experience, and we should acknowledge that too.

During the Design Forum, we will look elsewhere to learn and to model what has worked and what hasn’t worked. While the subject is ‘child survival’, examining what happens in other disciplines will also be important. Inspiration might be found in unexpected places.

Before describing the framework for the Design Forum, I want to note two unfinished or unanswered items of business to date:

  • A petition has been made for submission to The Hon Julie Bishop MP, the Australian Foreign Minister, to act as the official Champion for the Design Forum. That petition stands and will be accompany the conduct of the Design Forum, and be reframed to request her to be the official Champion for the final Design Forum in Seoul towards the end of October. Regardless of events that may or not unfold in the coming weeks in Australia, she will remain the person who the petition is addressed. You can read (and share and sign!) the petition in its current draft here.
  • A video request has been submitted to Bill and Melinda Gates asking them to recommend a reading list of five books that might help to frame the issue of child survival. Even with the release of their recent Annual Letter, this has merit as Bill and Melinda Gates are two individuals who through their advocacy on this issue have developed a good degree of knowledge that deserves to be more widely shared through a reading list. As far as I know at the moment, this remains an unanswered request. I do think that more could have been done to make sure the video reaches them personally, and shortly I will write directly to them with a letter asking for their consideration. You can see the video here.

The biggest failing in my performance to date is my inability to engage media. There are many reasons for that and some of them relating to computer access or the serviceability of equipment, but it is worth noting that this is something I haven’t done very well. Based on that observation, it is a fair expectation that it will remain an area which I am not well suited to managing as we move forward.

I hope you might see from reading this post that this is a big task. Even before we get to talking about the Design Forum as a series of individual events, we can identify discrete tasks that perhaps can be better shared and managed across our team. How we organise ourselves for that is a task in itself, and let’s start to leverage our collective strength by each taking up a small piece of the strain so the effort is less for all as we put our shoulders to the wheel.

Learning From Experience

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imageDon’t reinvent the wheel. Improve upon what already exists. Collaborate with others to find better solutions.

This is the spirit of the Design Forum that will unfold commencing in Osaka mid-February across a nine month period to address a question we are asking: “how might we use our networks to improve e delivery of child survival?”

We have begun already, and you are not too late to get involved. Presently, the Davos World Economic Forum is being held discussing some big ideas, among which includes issues like child survival. We can gain insights from those conversations, but perhaps more importantly get a perspective of what makes a good forum by observing Davos. And that is the role of the Design Forum in Osaka: to deconstruct what we know so we can find the best way of having a conversation that matters.

The Design Forum began with a simple idea in 2010 that would be highlighted through a crazy and epic running stunt. The stunt is behind us now, but we take it with us as it gives a thread of narrative to give a meaningful connection between the cities where the Design Forum will take place.

An invitation to be part of the Design Forum will be sent out later today. It will be free to attend, and you don’t need to travel to Osaka. The formal part of the first Design Forum will take place across a three day window, but you needn’t be involved for the whole time. How you ‘attend’ and contribute is up to you. We want your ideas and input.

Right now, please sign this petition for Julie Bishop. It is asking her to be our official Champion to highlight the Design Forum. We will deliver this after the second Design Forum in Papua New Guinea. I have written to her already requesting her to be our Champion. With so many other responsibilities, it is understandable that she might wish us well, but decline, and that is ok. We will then ask again after the third, fourth, fifth, and so on Design Forums.

By asking again and again, we are actually opening a conversation rather than trying to wear her down to relent. And so the objective will be for her involvement in some manner at the final culminating Design Forum in Seoul in October this year. Everything else is part of the conversation, and that is very important too.

Please visit, sign and share: https://www.change.org/p/the-hon-julie-bishop-mp-champion-the-global-series-of-design-forum-to-improve-child-survival

A Worthy Resolution for 2015

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IMG_26392015 is the year that a series of long-awaited Design Forum convened to open a conversation where a central question will be addressed: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

This is the culmination of a running stunt called the 10 City Bridge Run which involved me running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. Right now as I type this post, I am standing on the verge of the ninth leg here in Toronto. The weather is cold with some snow flurries, and at -9 degrees celsius, there is every possibility it could snow while I am out running. I will be running between the cusp of two years: setting off when the new year turns in Sydney, and ahead of the new year here in Toronto. Bridging the years.

The resolution is to improve child survival.

One way you can help now is by signing this petition to The Hon Julie Bishop MP, who is Australia’s Foreign Minister, where together we will be asking her to be the official champion for this series of Design Forum.

I made two videos along this journey which give a little more information below. Happy New Year!

Our networks are possibility factories

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Anthony Lake 0c175 7744
Anthony Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Making change happen, real change, change that matters, requires more than a simple signing of a petition.

Petitions are important, because our networks are possibility factories. Alone, few people take the hard yards required to change something. But every movement, every change begins inside someone’s head, it moves into a conversation, and soon others become involved. The network is engaged and a tipping point is reached.

Our networks are possibilities factories indeed, and petitions provide a signal to these networks of where action should be mobilised. Not all of these efforts are successful, but that is not the point. Some are, and we should be careful in what we measure as success. Innovation requires having a stomach for the bitter taste of failure, and the tough mindset to build again and tweak what didn’t work the last time failure was encountered.

Anthony Lake, the Executive Director at UNICEF spoke about how we should get involved through a petition which was launched last September called ‘A Promise Renewed’. It is a good initiative, and takes the form of a pledge.

Here is what UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said to explain the pledge:

Sign the pledge, which will mean you’re pledging to do what you can to change behavior in your communities — you’ll encourage local NGOs to sign the pledge and to work harder, you’ll pledge to advocate your governments to follow through on their pledges and make real progress. You can make a difference.

Read that again. Everyone signs the pledge, and we can make a difference? Well no, it does imply that someone is doing the work, and puts the emphasis reasonably enough on NGOs and governments. Assuming that they are working hard to solve the problem and not just working hard to maintain brand and reputation.

What is at stake? Tony Lake’s closing words are worth noting. These are strong words, and I hope used for more than just dramatic effect at the conference in New York where they were spoken last September:

[We should all] start advocating with [our] governments to live up to their commitments to do everything we can to save children from what is a moral abomination. If we don’t do it, shame on us.

To paraphrase Georges Clemenceau: “A moral abomination is too important to be left to our governments.” We must act as well. Our networks are the possibility factories. This is the premise of the 10 City Bridge Run.

Luke Asked: What is this about?

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The President of South Korea, mr Lee Myung-bak...
The President of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak

My good mate Luke asked me a question this morning by email. “What is the 10 City Bridge Run actually about?” It is a good question. Here is an answer.

The central question that the 10 City Bridge Run seeks to address is: “How can you build a bridge to help close the gap on extreme poverty?” A response requires to you think and feel, as much as to act.

This is part of a bigger movement about social impact. In this movement, we are each playing a small part in a bigger change. The 10 City Bridge Run is a small part in a well-established ecosystem of other initiatives.

We all should know that extreme poverty is a problem. There is enough news and branding around the issue. But do we know the extent to the problem, or do we know how we might make a difference – a real difference- aside from donating money to charity?

The 10 City Bridge Run presents a global challenge. There is a physical challenge – the 10 sub-marathons across 10 countries, which is more of a symbolic act through a tough and demanding journey.

The bigger challenge, the real challenge, is asking people to engage intellectually; asking people to engage emotionally and take action. Small actions. Like taking a photograph of others building a bridge.

Is it possible? Does it matter? Can one person on their own make a difference? (I would suggest the answers are Yes. Yes. and No.) And these answers are reflective of the bigger questions facing humanity on the issue of extreme poverty.

It is a complex issue. I think it starts with building a bridge to help close the gap on extreme poverty. You might be doing this already, and if so please show us what that looks like by capturing that in a photograph.

There are larger global forces at work. Is the global financial system broken, at least in part? This is the importance of passing a petition to the G20 Summit leadership. Will the petition make a difference? Will President Lee Myung-bak acknowledge the receipt of the petition? There is only one way to find out, and that first requires the collation of 24,000 photographs online.

Please join us.