I haven’t written much here about something I’ve spent a lot of time on the last few years. That seems a little odd. I guess I thought sharing it with some of you… like childhood friends, my family… might seem strange. This isn’t how you know me. You know me as Becky, the little girl who put on roller skating shows in the driveway.
Maybe that’s still how I’ve seen myself. That was a long time ago, though, and isn’t even my name anymore. It hasn’t been for ten years. In the meantime I’ve been up to something.
It started with teaching. At first I was just excited about the ideas, at what happened when students realized the stories we tell ourselves and each other, through the mass media… those stories matter, they make a difference, they shape the quality of our communities, our culture, our communication.
Then I was on a mission. My mission was to transform the way news is produced. To create in students media consumers who stand for, even demand, responsible and ethical media coverage. To orient people toward what’s good and just and right and we want more of in the world.
I know I have done that because I receive messages that say things like, “I am a former Marine… and you made me believe in Justice.” or “I never thought about politics before your class. I’m entering this public policy graduate program and devoting myself to politics in Idaho because of what we learned.” or this or this or this. What I am up to is so much bigger than me or these students; we’re part of it.
Along the way I’ve stopped teaching (for now) and have started organizing an event called the European Summit for Global Transformation. I don’t do this for pay; it’s a labor of love for a small group of people.
It started after I received a forwarded email. It had gone out to a group of people across Europe, including my husband (then beau), Stefan. The author wrote of the first Summit, “My dream is to have Scott … speak.” Well, I knew Scott. And a couple other people I thought should speak. So I hooked them up. It was a small gathering. People were inspired.
It got bigger. For me the idea became, “What could we create, what would happen, if we gathered together everyone I know, and you know, and your friends know who are up to something bigger than themselves on the planet?” What would happen if we bring community to this?
A group of six of us started planning. I was in charge of the Program — who’d come and what would happen. I wasn’t sure who to invite, so I started telling people about it and asking them who they thought. A friend of a friend who works at the World Bank said, “Oh! I met a wonderful woman! She’d be perfect! She runs a non-profit that provides mentoring and microfinance to underprivileged young entrepreneurs in India.” Stefan looked her up on the Internet and called her in India. She said she’d come. No one told us her father was the President of India. Wow! You wouldn’t believe the people on the planet you know in far, far fewer than six degrees of separation! Lakshmi was lovely. Her organization, BYST, is one of the most inspiring I’ve ever encountered.
One of my former students, Esra’a of MidEast Youth, agreed to speak via Skype from Bahrain and was a huge hit. Another speaker, Bill, who’s a TED participant, nominated Esra’a as a TED Fellow this year and now she is! Summit participants donated as much money to MidEast Youth as the group had raised their first three years. Bill and Esra’a work together now. It was an amazing weekend. People left inspired and have produced real results in the world.
And it’s coming up again. It’s not that this year’s program will top last year, it’s that we know a little better what we’re doing and we’ve gained a little stature. We lucked out last year. Really. And we know AMAZING people. This year the experience promises to rock your world. It could be one of those things that you never quite get over.
I’d love for you to be there.
I’ll post more about the weekend as speakers confirm, starting tomorrow with one I think will bowl you over and knock your socks off — and that’s a lot of hyperbole! Her life’s work is very real and need not be exaggerated, though. I’ll tell you more about her soon… prepare to be inspired.