The power of connections

posted in: Social innovation | 0
The power of connections.

Time and again I have come across stories and examples that show the importance of working with others, reaching out, collaborating, offering to put people in touch with each other – anything that helps to expand the links to get more happening and create that change we need, on the scale that we need it.

All because of a Taiwanese flag…

Emily Dunning
Emily Dunning

At Southampton University, Danny, a British guy, and Sarah, a Taiwanese girl, met during French classes. Sarah studied environmental sciences. Danny studied medicine. They got onto the topic of climate change during one of these classes. Danny was a sceptic – “what about all of the other pressing issues there are in the world?” he said; “Why should climate change take precedence?” Sarah explained the interlinking nature of so many issues associated with climate change and its effects. By the end, Danny was convinced as to why she gave it such priority in her own efforts to effect positive change.

With his own new-found focus on climate change, he got involved with the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC). A few months later, Danny went to a medical conference and introduced himself to some Taiwanese students there, mentioning Sarah. They gave him a t-shirt with the Taiwanese flag on it as a gift. He later wore it at an international meeting on climate change (UNFCCC COP) which he went to with UKYCC. A Taiwanese guy there, Liang-yi, saw Danny’s t-shirt and went over to introduce himself. They got talking – with Danny’s new experiences of youth climate action, Liang-yi’s desire to draw together young people in Taiwan too, and their mutual passion, a friendship was born.

Danny went to Taiwan for a month on holiday, sharing his experiences and knowledge at Liang-yi’s request, to help shape the newly formed Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition. The rest, as they say, is history. TWYCC now involves hundreds of young people, runs many programmes and activities, has just become a partner to the Taiwanese government for delivering environmental education in schools…the list goes on!

It is amazing what positive action can come as a result of introducing yourself to someone.

From office greening programmes to stopping human trafficking

I met the CEO of the World Green Organisation (WGO), William Yu, the other week in Hong Kong. I found out about this organisation through the wonder of connections. I used to work at Student Hubs and shortly before I left I got chatting to Jenny, one of the trustees. She put me in touch with one of her colleagues, Mark, who is based in Hong Kong and he gave me the websites of various organisations including the World Green Organisation. Priscillar, who works there, responded to my email and arranged for me to meet William.

William then arranged for me to meet the president of governors and his co-founder, Albert Oung, the next day. On meeting him, I discovered that as well as his role in the WGO he was also part of the Mekong Club, an organisation working to stop human trafficking and slavery as a business community. I had been to a talk by Matthew Friedman, the founder of that initiative, just two days before!

Through Russia with links

A clean up movement was organised in Tomsk, Siberia, by Valeriy after he connected with Denis, the founder of Musora Bolshe Net, through the internet. Denis gave Valeriy the encouragement, tools and knowledge to make Tomsk’s first clean up event happen. That kind of example is how the clean-up movement in Russia spreads – word of mouth and connections between people with passion.

These clean-up days involve hundreds of people. At the very least, they encourage volunteering and help foster a sense of community for a day around a common goal; at their best they help change mindsets and breed sustainability thinking throughout the lives of those people involved, and those participants may go on to share their new found interest in sustainability with others too. In a country the size of Russia, forging, maintaining and growing links between people allows activities and events to spread between places hundreds of miles apart.

To make things happen – talk!

If you want to make something happen, talk to other people, ask them for suggestions of who else to talk to, and be generous with your own network of contacts and knowledge. To my mind, that then means the web of positive action will keep growing and spreading.

These instances and others reiterate to me what a small world it is. I can definitely believe that everyone in the world is connected by six degrees of separation!

With all of us drawing on the knowledge, experience, positive energy and connections of others to effect positive changes in our society, we will get to the socially and environmentally sustainable society we all want to see far more quickly.

Not only that, it is so motivating to be reminded of how many others are also working towards making the world a better place, in so many different ways and through various means.

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