Researching about the environment for these articles can be depressing. I also struggle when I see how much disaster and tragedy dominates the media.
Wouldn't it be great if everyone decided that, instead of being infatuated with doom, gloom and the problems that we face (which I readily admit I have been guilty of before), they started to focus more on positive thoughts that would bring us solutions?
To achieve this, we need to change people's behaviour (as I have said here in the past). There are gateways that can be used to spark people's interest and start them on a path towards treating the rest of the world better. For example, we use the beach (a place that most people love) as the emotional touch-point to change littering behaviour on the streets.
Working out these touch-points is where making a difference in environmental and social work becomes very much entwined.
This week we had a 40-strong group of school students from Manurewa South School come out to Waiheke Island to clean up the beach. Eight of them had never been to a beach before. Yes. Eight school-aged Kiwi kids had never spent a day at the beach.
It is much harder for families that are at the bottom of the poverty pile to be concerned about environmental issues when they are struggling to get a good feed on the table, or to pay for a bus to even experience the environment we want to look after. So along with Sealink Ferries, we gave them an opportunity that many would take for granted but which for them was the trip of a lifetime and so the first time they experienced a beach it was an epic place that they were looking after to commemorate Seaweek.
Winston Churchill said "we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give" and I agree. If we can develop a more generous culture then I think a lot of our problems will be solved.
If you don't yet give your time, money or even spare capacity currently, then give it a go - nothing is more satisfying than to do something that improves others' lot and makes them happy.
These days it is starting to become commonplace for firms to give paid volunteer days to staff (like the BNZ Closed for Good program and the Air New Zealand Green Team). Corporate gifts are being replaced with the knowledge that someone in a developing country may have a received a goat on your behalf and many, many people compete in adventure races to raise funds for charity.
People love getting the satisfaction from giving and whether they put a self-congratulating message about it on their Facebook page to show the world at large or not doesn't matter. What really matters is that the act of generosity makes givers more aware of the worlds' problems and it gives the receivers hope.
It is a gateway drug for good behaviour and like most drugs it is addictive. I know loads of volunteers that have been giving up their weekends for years on end for the benefit of communities because it makes them happy and they are the nicest people to be around that I have met.
When it comes to a creative way of developing a more generous culture though, the One Percent Collective takes the podium. They have managed to make giving cool, by harnessing the power of some of our best musicians and artists to popularise giving and rewards those that do it. They make it easy for people to contribute a fraction of their money to charities and continue to inspire me every week when I get their newsletters.
Check out their video here and think about how changing the world is in your hands and join the giving revolution now.