Dear Bill and Melinda, It’s About The Fog That I Write To You

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Bridge in fog- hard to see the far bank
Bridge in fog- hard to see the far bank

Dear Bill and Melinda,

It’s about the fog that I write you you. Not the real fog, mind you, especially now that it is colder in the Northern Hemisphere. I know you are both busy, and need not be bothered by a trifling commentary about the weather.

Knowledge helps to lift the fog which prevents us from seeing clearly. I am particularly interested in knowledge based on the experience of others that will help improve child survival.

I applaud you both for your last two Annual Letters. The commentary and insights you provided about child survival is important. Would you please point us to five good books that might help us to know more about improving child survival?

I asked you for a recommendation of five good books in the video I recorded below in Glasgow on the Clyde River in late December last year just after I completed the eighth leg of an epic quest which I had called the 10 City Bridge Run. This involved running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries as a stunt to open a conversation asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

This question of child survival will be addressed though a series of Design Forum, held in each of the cities where running took place. They begin today in Osaka, and conclude in Seoul in October. We will be exploring is question about child survival and doing what we can so that as a global community we achieve the bet you have made for the future. But we need your help.

Would you please list the five best books that have helped you both best understand child survival? We would love to read those books and also make sure others can too.

It would be great if you would join our journey by sharing with us your favourite list of five books that might help us understand child survival better. The best way to share these would be by Twitter through my address at @socialalchemy.

Thanks for your help!

Matt Jones, writing from Osaka


What I Am Still In New York?

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IMG_3421It would be understandable that some people might be asking what am I still doing in New York now that I have completed the running stunt framing the 10 City Bridge Run. Or to put that another way, what happens now that the running is concluded?

It was my intention to have already left New York so as to travel to Melbourne where I need to spend some long-overdue time with my family in the wake of my brother’s death. It wasn’t my plan to be away this long.

There has been a delay, as if there weren’t enough delays already encountered with getting the 10 City Bridge Run to this point. Right now, I am waiting for the dispersement of funds raised during the final legs of the 10 City Bridge Run to be deposited into my bank account. The fundraising concluded on the evening of 1 January (US time), but the dispersement wasn’t put into effect until about 24 hours ago. Put simply, those funds are needed to enable me to take the next steps, which includes leaving New York. In many respects, and in a very real sense, I am stuck until that money clears.

IMG_3493But just as delay and obstacle encountered during the running stunt of the 10 City Bridge Run gave rise to opportunity in unexpected ways, I am likely to return to Australia a little later than anticipated again, and travelling via a circuitous route that goes via Osaka and Seoul.

One reason for the extended route home is that it is cheaper. It actually works out cheaper (and less painful in terms of flying hours) to travel with a broken journey via Asia. The cost is slightly less than a single flight from New York to Australia.

How this opportunity to travel via Asia to Australia rather than going direct from New York came about was trying to resolve how I might attend a scheduled appointment I have in Seoul on 21 January. Additionally, my concern was how to best coordinate planning for the first of the Design Forum to be held in Osaka during the period 10-12 February 2015.

IMG_3589Talking about something as a foreigner to that city might sound interesting, but it needs to be followed up with credible action for people to take you seriously. Having the opportunity to return to Osaka for a couple of days allows a requisite degree of consent and consensus from the host organisation in Osaka. It would be entirely unreasonable to fire off a couple of emails and expect for things to fall into place.

I will fly to Seoul after Osaka, which will be an opportunity to build some interest among possible satellite organisations who could participate in the first Design Forum from a location other than Osaka. Having one organisation agree to participate creates a model for others to follow.

Seoul is also the location for the final Design Forum, and so provides an opportunity for meaningful discussions around what might be possible and what might be needed to make the possible happen.

This first Design Forum is important to build momentum and a sense of identity for the conversation that follows. In the coming days, I will frame my vision of what that might look like, and welcome your involvement, steering and participation to make it a good event.

My friend Mary raised an idea a few weeks ago which was to explore ways of schools getting involved in the Design Forum. I think her idea is brilliant, and we are looking for other opportunities like that to expand and grow the opportunity for the Design Forum as a coherent and scalable conversation to address the important question driving this process asking: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

In the meantime, I have very cheap digs at an idiosyncratic New York flop-house, and will be using the few days I have remaining in the city to build support here and other cities as we move forward towards achieving this epic quest.

Thunderbirds Are Go!

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Thunderbirds-are-goOk, well maybe it isn’t Thunderbirds, but with about as much energy and excitement, I am delighted to announce that the journey continues tomorrow departing Seoul bound for Glasgow.

There have been more delays and challenges along the way than maybe I care to remember, but also many lessons from those situations. I really need to document all of that to share.

Importantly, this is coming together and the stunt is making sense to frame the Design Forum in 2015. The Design Forum will be a whole new challenge, and that is an opportunity for cooperation, collaboration and partnership for many. Please join us. We do need your help.

I especially want to thank my father who was the first person to support this initiative back in 2010, not because I primed him beforehand, but because he cared enough to act. He has continued to support me in more ways than anyone will ever know, and suffice to say without his help and advice I personally would never have come this far. Thanks Dad.

Make no mistake, we have a unique opportunity ahead of us. I hope this provides inspiration for many, and if the end of the year is looking bleak for whatever reason then please join us with optimism for 2015 as we stand in solidarity to make change for those most in need.

Many of you will know I am forging ahead to make this count as a tribute to my brother, Stephen who sadly died the previous week. This journey is about improving the delivery of child survival. If you would like to support the journey ahead with a small contribution of a couple of dollars before we roll into Christmas, please visit this link as well.

Thanks to all. BZ.

12.12.12 Design Forum

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Seoul, Korea.
Seoul, Korea. (Photo credit: Jaako)

The journey taken during the 10 City Bridge Run will culminate in a Design Forum held in Seoul on 12 December 2012 (12.12.12) to crowdsource good ideas, and to listen and learn from four key questions.

* Q1: What is best practice, and how is that is having an impact? Who is succeeding and why?

* Q2: Is best practice contextually specific? Can good ideas be shared into different and unpredictable environments?

* Q3: What is not working well? Can we map the negative factors that prevent innovative change?

* Q4: How might a human bridge be part of a solution? What might this look like?

An outcome from the Design Forum will be to determine a list of lessons from failure and success titled “10 Tangible Ways To Make A Difference.”

This is a framework to work from, and over the coming three months before the 12.12.12 Design Forum, there will be plenty of good ideas to improve this approach. The Design Forum will be picking up on a great idea from my good friend Kelley Joyce, and looking at ways of how this can be inclusive of other locations outside of Seoul using social media.

Plenty of good ideas. I’m sure you have some of your own. Care to share?

20 Days to Go: Why the G20?

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The G20 Summit in Seoul commences on 11 November. So too does the 10 City Bridge Run.

But why the G20? Isn’t that only about banking and a talk-fest among world leaders?

The 10 City Bridge Run forms a bridge conceptually between the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (in particular MDG 4: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate) and the leadership of the 20 largest economies (19 countries plus the European Union).

This is what the G20 agreed upon following the last meeting held in Toronto in June this year under the heading of ‘Development’:

We recognize that 2010 marks an important year for development issues. The September 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) High Level Plenary will be a crucial opportunity to reaffirm the global development agenda and global partnership, to agree on actions for all to achieve the MDGs by 2015, and to reaffirm our respective commitments to assist the poorest countries.

In this regard it is important to work with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to make them active participants in and beneficiaries of the global economic system. Accordingly we thank Turkey for its decision to host the 4th United Nations Conference on the LDCs in June 2011.

Narrowing the development gap and reducing poverty are integral to our broader objective of achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth and ensuring a more robust and resilient global economy for all. In this regard, we agree to establish a Working Group on Development and mandate it to elaborate, consistent with the G-20’s focus on measures to promote economic growth and resilience, a development agenda and multi-year action plans to be adopted at the Seoul Summit.


The website foe the Working Group opens a blank page. I want that to change.

The methodology used by the 10 City Bridge Run is about raising awareness of an individual’s capacity to act to influence extreme poverty. It involves:

  • Observing
  • Listening
  • Bridge building
  • Petitioning
  • Doing
  • Asking institutions what action they took after making public statements
  • Learning

Join me on this journey. It is not a spectator sport.