Briefing No. 9
WHAT WE'RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table
Just Mercy: A story of justice and redemption, by Bryan Stevenson is a powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix America’s broken system of justice — from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
Bryan Stevenson has dedicated his life to fighting for justice and against unfair sentencing in the US, most notably fighting for children sentenced to life without parole, essentially to die in prison. A non fiction tale that we are finding more compelling than a novel, it is told in his distinctive Southern American voice. One has to constantly remind oneself that the tales of injustice unfolding are not historical but happening today in America.
It sounds depressing, but honestly this is a truly uplifting and inspirational book….the world is a better place just for having Bryan Stevenson in it.
MORE RECYCLING WON'T STOP POLLUTION
Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth as what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology.
SYSTEMS CHANGE: WHO'S MAKING IT HAPPEN
Rebecca had the privilege of interviewing a new cohort of potential Ashoka Fellows this Summer in Berlin. The Ashoka Fellowship is a life-long award granted to social entrepreneurs working on systems-changing innovations. This year’s newly appointed Fellows include Carlene Firmin, who is working to change the child protection system in the UK to provide the right support for teenagers at risk of abuse, Wietse van der Werf, who brings together unemployed youths and navy veterans to provide a concrete solution to global ocean conservation and Sarah Corbett, who is modelling a more thoughtful, slower and nuanced form of activism.
These are all wildly impressive people. We highly recommend looking up their work, and Sarah’s book, How to be a Craftivist is a joy too.
THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF EACH LIFE
Two years before the end of his life, Pablo Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His acceptance speech tells the story of his 1948 escape from Chile to Argentina and how it led him to a profound insight that “There is no insurmountable solitude.” Neruda argues that "there is no such thing as a lone struggle, no such thing as a lone hope. In every human being are combined the most distant epochs, passivity, mistakes, sufferings, the pressing urgencies of our own time, the pace of history.”
CAUSE AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
In Purpose Inc. by John Wood, the founder of the Room to Read charity, Wood argues that the most effective companies of the future will reject the notion that good environmental, social and governance practice is antithetical to profits and will instead find ways to align these goals with their business goals (thereby building bonds with customers, generating positive buzz on social media, increasing employee motivation and retention). In short, "purpose" is not just for hippie do-gooders, but for committed capitalists as well.
ONES TO WATCH - ANDREW BASTAWROUS
In 2011, eye surgeon and TED Fellow Andrew Bastawrous developed a smartphone app that brings quality eye care to remote communities, helping people avoid losing their sight to curable or preventable conditions. Along the way, he noticed a problem: strict funding regulations meant that he could only operate on people with specific diseases, leaving many others without resources for treatment. In this passionate talk, Bastawrous calls for a new health care funding model that's flexible and ambitious -- to deliver better health to everyone, whatever their needs are. See his TED talk here.
EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE
Please do join us for breakfast next month, (11th October) with Iain Levine of Human Rights Watch. Iain will be sharing his deep experience and learnings around human rights protection in humanitarian crisis situations. Give us a call if you would like an invitation.
And, for those of you joining us in Kenya in a couple of weeks : we can’t wait!