Why We Believe in These Five Revolutionary Community Leaders
Five months ago, I sat in a small conference room at GOOD HQ at the end of a long day with three of my colleagues, mulling over the idea of bringing five people from around the globe working towards creative progress together to share best practices and have a little fun in the process.
We were in the middle of a push to create a public holiday, Neighborday, to celebrate the invisible glue that binds communities together.
They are now living and breathing the collaboration we had hoped for, and the ideas being sparked and connections being made are truly remarkable.
Inspired by fellow Coralie Winn's work to help restore Christchurch, New Zealand, in the wake of two devastating earthquakes, we have renovated and occupied a vacant workspace in downtown Los Angeles to use as the home base for our pop-up fellowship this week.
In the very space inspired by her work, Coralie told of how earthquakes leveled roughly 80 percent of the central business district of Christchurch, leaving empty lots in the city and depressed morale among its residents. She and a small group of determined friends brought pockets of joy into those vacant spaces, setting up pop-up art installations and community projects to help bring the community back together.
Fellow Bruce Good of Cape Town told of how his work to empower communities name their neighborhoods has struck a powerful chord in post-apartheid South Africa, helping to raise up and equalize towns that were torn apart by racial hatred.
Fellow Regina Agyare of Accra, Ghana, shared her story of forging ahead in studying computer science despite being told that girls belong in the household and in the kitchen. She went on to study computer science at college and now teaches girls and the disabled about technology to empower them to follow their own dreams and break gender stereotypes.
Fellow Maria Morfin of Tepoztlán, Mexico, told of her work to empower children to speak up, find their voice, and take action to make their neighborhood better in a culture that discourages empowerment in one's community at such a young age. She has seen her students go on to become changemakers not only in their adult lives, but also in their adolescence.
And fellow Kurt Shaw of Recife, Brazil, said that the favela communities where he is helping kids tell their own stories through the power of video has seen a dramatic drop in gang- and drug-related violence.
My mission at GOOD has been to elevate the voices of engaged, pioneering creators from around the world. And it is incredibly humbling to be here now, creating a collaborative, international meeting place where ideas are shared across borders and projects to make the world better are coming alive both online and off.