— Arjan Tupan (@arjantupan) March 8, 2014
Playing with a Soccket, a ball that generates energy. Buying one means giving a child the opportunity to join a Soccket team and learn.
In the last six weeks, I was studying at Wesleyan University. Through Coursera, that is. I was enrolled in the course How to change the world, in which we have been looking at a broad range of issues facing our planet, and on ways how we can change the world for the better. In those six weeks, we have seen many great examples of how people are working to tackle issues like extreme poverty, epidemic diseases, gender equality and climate change. And in the final lectures, we saw some Wesleyan students share their thoughts and experiences on how to change the world. But with all these important topics, and big efforts to tackle them, it might become overwhelming for those who want to start making a change themselves. So, in this post, I wanted to share my views on how you can start making a difference, some learnings I took from the course and also some tips from change makers in my ‘crowd’ (I asked my social networks for a golden tip to start making a change).
There’s a small forest in the town where I live. You can enter it without crossing any type of barriers, apart from the trees and bushes making it hard to access in most places. There’s a path through part of it, created through usage more than anything else. A good example of a desire path.
The forest is also home to several animals. I’ve seen several types of birds, including a wood pecker, but have also encountered deer there, who either live in this forest, or see it as part of their territory. I’m not completely sure if the forest is a commons, but it is treated as such. Thus, comparable to the pasture as described in ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ by Garrett Hardin, this forest can be treated as as a commons for the purpose of this post.
Many people who I have seen using this small forest, are passing through from a residential neighbourhood to a field. Almost all of them, including me, use it as a part of their daily dog walking routine. And then of course there is the wildlife. For me, a big part of the ‘usage’ I have from this forest, is the enjoyment of having wildlife so close to home; it gives me my daily dose of forest bathing, or shinrinyoku as it is called in Japan.
‘Le dernier virage’. There was a time, that this short announcement from the cockpit would be the signal that told me I was home. Sure, I would, at the moment that I heard it, be still in a seat on a plane, but those three words would mean the journey had come to an end. The plane would have arrived at its parking stand, only one last turn (dernier virage is French for ‘last turn’), and we would come to a stop. Only a bit of waiting for the doors to open, an almost-run through the terminal and a short taxi ride would separate me from actually being home. But this, the parking stand at Charles de Gaulle airport, was always a good proxy, a good moment for that ‘I-have-come-home’ feeling to kick in.
Those three words, I still repeat them to myself, every time a plane I’m on has landed, and found its way to the parking stand. Le dernier virage, and I have arrived. But there’s much more to arriving at airports. That is exactly what I am going to discuss this weekend with some wonderful people in the Quality Hunters Workshop in Finland. I’m very excited about that. The fun thing is, even if you’re not in Finland this weekend, you can participate. Simply follow the Quality Hunters blog, Facebook page and Twitter account or hashtag #qhworkshop for updates. And don’t hold back: join the conversation!
Going to school with 20000 students from all over the globe? Not a problem these days, and you can even stay at home while doing so. There are several offerings, but I recently tried out Coursera. To be honest: I started a course before, and dropped out after the first week. But this time I told my self to finish it. And I’m glad I did.
Exercise your creativity
With their new book, Kelley brothers Tom and David from IDEO, want to help people, especially young ones, to boost their creativity. In their experience, it’s creativity that stands at the basis of great businesses, innovation and much more. However, many people struggle to be creative. In this HBR blog post, Tom and David share three creativity challenges that will help you practice being creative. If I could add a fourth, it would be: write a poem each day.
Did you do your shinrinyoku today
From an interesting article over at the BBC News website, I learned this awesome word: shinrinyoku. It’s Japanese for ‘forest bathing’, or spending time in nature. The article itself is about the health benefits of shinrinyoku, and how it can save the NHS in Britain ‘billions’, according to research cited by The Woodland Trust.
In any case: I love this word, and am fortunate that I get my daily dose of shinrinyoku while walking with our dog. How about you?
Lone wolf, fire fighter schizophrenic, or …?
In an awesome series of posts, one of my favorite writers on anything social, Rick Mans, is talking about the nine archetypes of webcare. Starting with personal experience stories, he not only explains the types, but also shows how you can improve your customer service if you recognize yourself. Must. Read.
The long reach of history
Progress and innovation? I’m a huge fan of those. But, I’m also a fan of history. Only by understanding where we come from, can we really move forward and make things better. In this brilliant article, the current battle lines from the American public debate are explained by looking at the colonial times. It seems the US is a land of eleven nations.
Play might be the best school
In many societies, children are encouraged to play less, and study more. But, argues evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray, this might actually prevent our children from being successful and happy. Playing, he says, is the best way for young persons to learn and master the skills that are most valued by the society they grow up in. His essay is certainly worth reading, and then you can think about how much you are allowing young people to play.
Why not blame social media (and porn) for teenager’s behaviour?
Social media, the peer pressure of being popular translated into likes, and the availability of internet porn, makes teenagers think differently about gender roles, and what relationships should look like. And the way they see it, is not very pretty. In this Vanity Fair article, the author reports many conversations she had with teenage girls, and the occasional boy. Along the way, social media and technology get blamed for the worrying behaviour of teenagers and their views on relationships and sex. But I think that is too easy. What children do for likes is not driven by social media or technology, it’s driven by an unbalanced view of the world. And I believe that parents play a role in balancing out that view. Not by censoring things that teens will view secretly anyway, but by emphasizing that other behaviour is wanted and cool, and giving children access to books and movies and apps and websites and clubs and spaces that actually celebrate and promote behaviour that we would love to see in our children. For the antidote to this article, maybe browse the inspirations in the OpenIDEO creative confidence challenge.
Invest in your people to boost innovation
There are a lot of companies, consultants and tools out there that can help you and your company to be more innovative. However, most if not all, of them assume one important thing: the people in your company have the knowledge, skill and minds to innovate. Without that, this HBR blog post argues, your company won’t be able to innovate at all.
Next Sunday, Germany will elect a new parliament, the Bundestag. And slowly but surely, the Wahlkampf is invading our lives. On the radio, in the news, but most noticeably: in the streets. In this photo essay, an impression of how the parties are trying to convice the Germans to vote for them.
Special posterboards have been erected for election campaign posters. But most are not used fully.
Some try to lure us to their websites with QR codes. Even if the posters are put up in such a way that the QR codes are hard to scan. If this is a design error, what does that say about the party or canidate in question? And what does the fact that the QR code leads to an non-transparent shortened url say about this party in question?
And of course, there are those who claim to be the ones with the courage to tell the truth. To me it seems that they are often also the ones trying hardest to hide the truth by oversimplifying issues.
In any democracy, there’s always room for parties with an extreme message. Some of them are trying to shock people into voting for them with extremely rude messages: ‘Which a….. will you vote for next time?’
I’m not eligible to vote in these elections, so to me it’s mostly amusing. But then again, with Germany being one of the driving powers of Europe, I think these elections are important for all Europeans. So, please my German friends: be wise with your vote.
It was always like a little present, when traveling through the subterranean transport system of Paris, I would hear the tunes of these wonderful artists giving their morning rush hour surprise performance. Music always helps me to get into that work state of mind. And now that September is well on its way, schools have started, vacation is over, it’s time for, as they call it in France, ‘la rentrée’. To get you going again, here’s my September playlist with tunes selected to energize you. Which songs are your ‘labour vitamins’? Let me know.
PS: if the embedded playlist doesn’t show for whatever reason, you can click here and open it in Spotify.
Amazing Amazon reunion
It’s easy to forget that many things we think are facts, are actually culturally determined. And with that culture, also come preconceptions and prejudices. Especially when other cultures think about topics differently. The notion of right and wrong, good and bad is an integral part of that. So, no surprise that those of us with multiple heritages can struggle in finding their identity. Just like the main characters in this story of a son searching for his Amazonian mother.
Overcome that writer’s block
The summer vacation season is almost over in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means we all need to get back into the work routine. For some that means turning back to a writing routine. That can be difficult, so Ana Canhoto looked for some tips to restart writing, which resulted in a blog post that is a great start in itself.
Who’s that in the shadow?
Startups often have one founder that gets all the attention. But, she’s never alone. VC Jeff Bussgang shares why it’s so important to also focus on the co-founder who is not always in the spotlights.
Self-promotion: new Dad-to-be blog
In a small act of shameless self promotion, I wanted to share about my new blog. Yes, I’m going to be a dad, and that’s exciting. A whole new world opens itself up to me, and I’m sharing that on a new blog called The Neverending Miracle. It will have general thoughts, poetry and of course I’m sharing experiences and tips on all things a Dad-to-be gets confronted with. Like picking a name, and which design principles we followed for that. The post also contains a practical tool to help you pick your baby’s name.