After 9 years of working in aid and development across 50+ countries I got sick of returning to my home country and blaming others, telling them what they should do (while being ignored) and feeling frustrated and mostly helpless. In 2009 I change my approach and cycled 4000km around Aotearoa New Zealand giving presentations on how our small but personal actions can have a positive impact on people and the plant.
Not long after my bike ride I met an organisation just launching in Australia called the Global Poverty Project (now Global Citizen based in NYC) and found they were doing something similar to me and not just one idiot on a bike! I teamed up with them and created a youth and school program (since I am a qualified teacher) and delivered over 300 presentations in two years to schools around Australia to ask what is a global citizen and what it might mean to be an active and effective one. There were many great responses and lots of actions taken by inspired students.
In 2012 I changed gears to combine my advocacy work with my aid and development background to work on polio eradication. In the following three years I created and supported campaigns working towards the global eradication of polio. The polio story shows if we coordinated and collaborate our actions big impacts can result. During this time, I worked with UNICEF, Gates Foundation, WHO and many others, both in low income countries listening and learning and high income countries advocating for change including a win of $240m from the Canadian government for polio eradication.
On the back of this work, in 2014 I walked 1000km in Japan and created a concept to quantify and qualify the small but significant things we can do as individuals to work towards the MDGs and a better planet for all. I called it Teaspoons of Change. I then cycled another 1500km to really think about all the personal, small but significant, ideas and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet.
Since 2009 with Global Citizen, The End of Polio, Teaspoons of Change and other global justice avenues, I hit 1000 presentations and workshops a few weeks ago, and just this last week, to over 100,000 people. My objective is to connect with as many people as possible and for everyone to feel their actions matter and that they can make a difference at a personal level that connects with a global context – the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
I have a big focus on the entry level approach and engagement with the Global Goals in education, business and government so we can all connect and access this global framework to increase our connection and engagement with them. Then we can start to put our personal actions in a collective context and importantly build upon them to become more active and effective global citizens each day.
How many of the 100,000 people I’ve engaged with who have taken action, I can’t be sure but I do know not giving each and every presentation there is 0% chance something will happen. I also know I am not the epiphany to all of those people but at least a possible stepping stone for them to put in context the next opportunity they have to make positive impacts in the world…