Join us 26th March 2022 at Impact Hub Lausanne for the SDGs in the Classroom Workshop for this 2-hour workshop that will act as an implementation sprint to help educators personalize ways to bring the #SDGs into the classroom.
I’ve been researching start-up entrepreneurship eco-systems, especially those with a focus on Smart Cities. These eco-systems seem to be defined by a lack of women: as investors, as business mentors, as entrepreneurs, as business owners.
I’ve been wondering what the consequences are for putting ourselves on the 1.5 GHG emissions trajectory through Smart Cities initiatives, if more than half the sky is missing from the problem-solving. Obviously, it means that half the sky is missing from the pipeline that will be creating education, employment and economic wellbeing for all. Surely, it also means less innovation, less creativity, less likelihood of doing what we need to do in 2022, to get us to where we need to be in 2030. That’s more of a statement than a question.
What to do? Some of the steps to get there are women-led spaces. The EQUALS-EU programme focuses on creating digital inclusion for women and girls, so that they can engage in education, employment and economic wellbeing.
Part of the programme includes Innovation Camps and you can register to take part in the one being led by Dr Claire Somerville and Carolina Earle at The Gender Centre at The Graduate Institute Geneva here: https://form.jotform.com/220375406093351 and find out more about it here https://www.iheid-equals.ch/
I’m delighted to be involved: join us 28th – 30th April 2022 to invent the future.
My invitation to you is, that as we approach 8th March – International Women’s Day, that you use gender equity as the lens to look through to imagine solutions, as you interact with students of all ages, as you create conferences and business solutions, as you support start-ups, as you create your start-up product or service…knowing that it’s going to create expansion and return on investment for flourishing futures.
It’s not an either/or situation to fix things. It’s an embracing of a plurality of voices and their creativity. No-one loses if the eco-system balances.
Here’s a great report from UN Women if you want to learn more about looking through a feminist lens for your education, humanitarian, innovation and entrepreneurship eco-systems: https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2021/09/feminist-plan-for-sustainability-and-social-justice
A week ago, I had a draft version of this newsletter ready to go. Then came the invasion of Ukraine. And it seemed important to pause a moment to take that in. As changemakers, this has happened on our watch.
As Bill McKibben put it in his article this weekend, “We should be in agony today – people are dying because they want to live in a democracy, want to determine their own affairs. But that agony should, and can, produce real change.”
As educators, humanitarians and entrepreneurs we need to be asking ourselves right now, “How will we produce that real change through our eco-systems? Where will this present moment lead us if we don’t urgently and clearly imagine with our communities, the flourishing futures that we do want?”
Why imagine? Because imagining is the first point of owning solutions: it is the source of optimistic innovation. It’s the starting point of youth activation. It’s the start of community engagement. It’s where hope starts.
1st March 2022 is World Futures Day: a global conversation over 24 hours to explore the challenges and imagine opportunities for building flourishing futures. You can join in the conversation organised by The Millennium Project at 12 noon in your time-zone via this link:
I’ll be there 12.00 CET and 12.00 GMT. Join in. If you can’t join the call, you can still inspire hope in your professional communities, especially with young people, using three simple steps:
It’s a simple activity, disrupting the status quo and initiating action.
What strikes me from Bill McKibben’s article is the link between this act of aggression, climate and the urgent need to reclaim precious minerals like nickel from phones, batteries and electrical goods, in order to reuse them in renewable energy. Imagine if we ramped that up over this year as a problem solved? There are extraordinary consequences.
More than ever, catalysing ourselves to reclaim the future starts with ideas as small acts of great love.
Imagine it, then unfold it: what seeds of hope will you plant this coming week, what optimistic, urgent innovation will you spark?
Stay safe and well.
Often, I’ll set out a futures-thinking challenge aligned with achieving a UN SDG. This time, though, given we were hot off the heels of TED Countdown and COP26, I wanted to know more about the problems that were resonating with them.
As I asked each young person to reflect on and then share the problem that they were in-love with, I knew that I was inviting them into a space of great vulnerability.
It felt a little ‘out there’ given that they were jet-lagged, pierced through by the freezing Geneva wind, coping with wearing masks for the duration of the workshop and no chocolate until lunchtime.
Yet, as each young person stood up and shared the problem that they were in-love with, they shared something real and relevant to their lives.
Tender hearts were revealed, by young women and young men alike.
In the warmth of the SoftSpace co-working room (thank you Aurore Bui), they listened to each other with empathy and compassion, catalysts for wellbeing.
I found myself utterly humbled by their grace and courage; young people hold such an intuitive wisdom that picks apart the status quo, empowering them to blossom from their unique creativity. They’re the source of my radical hope and optimism.
At a time when young people are experiencing significant mental health issues relating to climate change , let alone the impacts of COVID, it’s vital that they experience safe, inclusive spaces where they can show-up as problem-solvers, again and again, to discover their purpose and a starting point for living it.
I love innovation challenges for that. It’s always in those first moments that the seeds of self-belief are planted within each of them and the vast unfurling of who they are begins, like prisms refracting light.
Surely, we all want that? Let’s run more of them together.
However, it’s always good to know where the great chasms are in achieving our race to zero, so that we can manage them.
At the same time, it was an epiphany moment for me, about the problem that I’ve always been ‘in-love’ with: that people don’t believe they can create flourishing futures.
“Well then,” I thought, “I need to do something about that…”, which, to be honest, feels a bit like Frodo setting off to Mordor.
My question to you is, “Do you believe that we can make the radical changes that we need to make?”
What do you hear, when you ask yourself this question?
I know that you believe the science and I know that you believe that we should, you’ve told me so; but, what about the doing of it? What’s stopping you from acting with urgency today?
If we haven’t won our own hearts and minds on believing that we can act, we won’t win the hearts and minds of the people in our communities, who want to live well, in peace. They need to know how greener futures are going to fulfil their needs for wellbeing, education and livelihoods. They want to feel safe and heard and respected.
The choice we must make — to believe — is a daily practice of learned optimism. I’ve used innovation and entrepreneurial challenges for many years now, to do that, to ignite those starting points in communities. It thrills me every time people start to believe in their ability to make change happen.
Starting now, believing that we can, has to guide us on the paths of innovation that we’re walking: our heart-felt intention in what we design, create, reform, restore, must be about flourishing as a planet and a society.
These lines from the Jena Declaration on Sustainability, published in 2021, capture this:
“…with our body we are ourselves an integral part of nature, and we also incorporate it into our practices in specific ways, depending on what we are doing. This premise inverts the perspective on sustainability from a nature-society opposition to a society-nature interdependent relationship.”
Believing that we can take action needs to go hand-in-hand with a recognition gained from walking into our own hearts, that all of us and all of this exquisite existence is worth saving.
I think like me, that you believe this to your core.
When we’re looking back from 2030, just 8 years away, let’s remember 2022 as the year that we empowered ourselves and our communities, to take a leap of love into being fully human in the Age of the Anthropocene; where we embraced our interdependence with nature and the planet that quite literally breathes us.
Where we recognised that we were ‘of’ it, not outside of it.
Let’s remember it as the year that we won hearts and minds for the planet because we chose to believe, in our respective professions, and engaged our communities in believing that they could create flourishing futures too.
In my heart, I believe we can. I believe 2022 has the potential to be an excellent year. A defining year. The year that changes everything.
I’m excited to be partnering with The Gender Centre at the Graduate Institute Geneva, on the EQUALS EU Project designed to build capacity and expand networks for women and girls in social innovation and entrepreneurship.
Next step is the Innovation Camp being designed and implemented by students as young leaders, taking place on 28th – 30th April 2022 to coincide with Girls in ICT Day. Following that, a selected group of women-led start-up enterprises will develop their business models.
Find out more about EQUALS-EU and get in touch to find out how you can sponsor the Innovation Camp, empowering young people to lead the way to flourishing futures.
I know that you've been working hard, adjusting and readjusting; and I know that you're conscious of the urgent need to engage and empower our communities to take climate action.
It feels like we have a mountain to climb; but there are ways to climb mountains...and then there are ways to climb mountains.
I'll be honest...this person in the picture is not me...I managed to get myself stuck on a chairlift the other week and now I'm banned from hanging off things.
Believe me...I am definitely not a mountain climber in the traditional way that you might imagine.
Instead, I am a wanderer of mountain paths, eater of wild berries, listener to eagles, watcher of butterflies, I stand jaw-dropped in awe at 1000-year old trees, looking with them into the big blue vastness of the sky...feeling myself reflected and restored in each step away from the noise and the clicking and the screens and the algorithm nudges.
Climbing mountains, is all about believing that you can; but you can be 'on' a mountain or, you can be 'of' the mountain.
'On' a mountain tends to flip people into competition, straight-lines, hard edges...some strange, misplaced sense of entitlement to get somewhere first and fast. It's a forcing of wills over the conditions. You can get to where you want to go as an act of conquering. The effort is unquestionable, usually involving sore feet and suffering. It's about being ON the mountain. I speak from experience, having slogged my way up Kilimanjaro, using this approach.
For me, it took living in the mountains to realise that climbing them is all about the paths that wind and traverse and intersect; that there are many ways to get to where you need to go. And, if you are willing to be present to all that's around you, the walk become a continuous unfolding into flourishing. Inside and out. It allows for possibilities by being in the rhythm of the mountain's eco-system, it allows for community.
'Of' the mountain is about tapping into those ancient and sacred wisdoms of stillness, moving from your core to adapt to the constantly changing conditions, feeling with your feet, listening with your heart and responding with courage.
I find that when I walk paths this way, I become 'of' the mountain, aligned and interdependent and hopeful and full of wonder. And so, through this gentle act of being 'of' the mountain, I believe I can climb them.
With each step, mountains reflect the wisdoms that need to live through us. We need these because we have a mountain to climb in taking climate action...and it's going to require each of us to take some radical steps to get to where we need to go, to be on the paths that we need to be on over the next 10 years if we are going to reverse the damage and restore the planet that literally breathes us.
Our choice is how we do this. We can be 'on' the mountain. Or, we can be 'of' the mountain.
The question is, "How can we be 'of' the mountain wherever we are in the world?"
We just need to start with the wisdom of moving from the core of stillness which guides us forward: the stillness that is the home of our belief that we can, in however small a way, contribute to the flourishing of nature, people and planet.
Being 'of' the mountain is about leaving no-one behind. It's about making the space for each of us to engage our communities, to bring them with us, to empower them to believe that they can climb this mountain too.
Being 'of' the mountain means that we believe that we can reach our climate action targets by starting where we are now, imagining the possibilities and walking the path that unfolds them into flourishing futures for all.
Let's go together through these next months of finding our way forward.
(Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash)