Monday, May 3, 2010

Make A Difference

Departing Johannesburg, The Adventure Diaries.

Many people are talking these days about how to make a difference. The problems of Climate Change, poverty, AIDS, deforestation and the wanton destruction of our earth seem insurmountable. How can one person make a difference?

Making a difference is easy. Often it's as simple as just deciding you want to, and then showing up. Those two actions somehow make it possible for all sorts of things to happen. Within the world of journalism at least half the stories I work on are impossible to plan very well. Most of the time I just arrive at the place, and maybe have one or two contacts, and suddenly the whole story opens up in front of me, as if it "expected" me be there. This is so common in journalism that there is even an unwritten rule called the 80% law: 80% of the story is just showing up, being there, and trying to grasp the situation. The other 20% is putting it together so that it makes sense, and then delivering it on time.

Start by saying you want to. Then physically get involved in something. Show up to town meetings when they discuss things like recycling, land use, and any issue you feel strongly about (you will be amazed how few people actually come). Research facts and make it your hobby, your Sunday activity even, to find out all the sides of an issue. Figure out your home energy budget, and calculate your carbon footprint, then take steps to reduce it and and write a blog for your family and friends so they can benefit from your new knowledge. Everyone has a part to play in changing our society into a more healthy, happier, and less destructive system.

On Saturday four of my friends departed on their own voyage of action and discovery. They are driving small delivery bikes 3700 Kilometers up through Africa, from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salam. On the way they are meeting with orphans, planting trees, swimming with dolphins, and camping out underneath the wide open African sky. You can follow their adventures from their site:

They are office workers who have a dream, and they are following it. Along the way they will be posting photos, videos and stories of the people and places they visit and share with, so follow their trip and get inspired!

Everyone can make a huge difference and with the right attitude even have fun in the process. Just show up.