Everyone can be a changemaker

March 31, 2010

I spent last Tuesday afternoon being inspired by our friends at Ashoka (www.ashoka.ie). If ever an organisation lived up to its tag line it’s them. Everyone can be a changemaker. Seeing the impact that people like Steve Collins (www.validnutrition.org) is making in addressing the treatment of malnutrition in Africa or how Mary Nally (www.thirdagefoundation.ie) is empowering the rich resource of the older people in our communities is truly amazing.

Mary Robinson (www.realizingrights.org) spoke of not getting caught up in the gloom of the moment but to look to the opportunity of the future. For her, and it was the theme of the forum, it was looking at the effects of climate change and how these are inextricably linked to an individual’s right to development and human rights. She feared for the world that we will bequeath to our grandchildren as, in Africa in particular, people are forced to become climate refugees. We need to give access to low carbon technology and she used the example of how the mobile phones can revolutionise people’s lives in Africa.

Karl-Henrik Robert, founder of The Natural Step (www.naturalstep.org), charmed us with his story of how to build an inclusive programme for change as he has done in Sweden from communities and scientists to politicians and kings, roping in the media along the way.

On the day that not too far away the banks of Ireland were being further exposed for their profligate pasts, the sense of optimism and positivism were tangible. There appear to be many commonalities to the success of the Ashoka Fellows. These include the skill to identify a solution to a social problem and the inability to walk away from it and leave it to someone else; the ability to spread their vision to others and empower the people around them to share and implement their vision; a passion and determination to see things through to the end. In many ways these character traits resonated with me and Neasa’s recent post “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast”.  Ashoka’s culture not only lives and breathes this sentiment; it changes people’s lives along the way.

Tim

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