Are we hard-wired for connection? Can we drop our personal agendas and fears and truly collaborate? I can say definitively yes. Throughout my 7+ years of involvement with FeelGood, I’ve seen time and again just how possible it is—most recently at the “World Hunger Summit” in Guelph, Ontario that I attended along with FeelGood leaders Ali White and Catie Bartone from the University of Vermont chapter.
We attended the summit—hosted by our Commitment 2030 Fund endorsing partner Universities Fighting World Hunger—with the intention of bringing FeelGood’s voice to the table and recruiting new Launchpad teams. What we discovered was that while FeelGood has a lot to offer the global mission to end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030, we also have a lot to learn.
Some of the critiques of the Gates Foundation’s recent annual letter —as well as of the Sustainable Development Goals themselves—are a reminder that in our work of making the world a better place, what’s most important is the spirit with which we do it. Given what we’re up against, ours is not an easy undertaking. But it can be incredibly joyful, especially when we take the time to appreciate each other, and to gratefully build upon, rather than to tear down, each other’s work. More important than joy, it creates the foundation for collaboration, without which we cannot succeed.
Thoughtful analyses and lively dialogue are of course essential to our collective learning, and for discovering the best way forward. But what determines whether the experience is energizing or enervating is the attitude that pervades it. Following are a few things we’ve learned from our partner organizations about what it takes to create a joyful, collaborative environment:
As one of the leaders of the international development community, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Annual Letter has a lot of weight. With years of experience, amazingly smart and dedicated staff, incredible research-backed programs and technology, and more funding than any nonprofit can dream of, the Foundation is a major voice in the field. This year’s Annual Letter was released in late January, and unsurprisingly we’ve seen a lot of positive responses, and also some critiques. So we’re here to break it down for you.
Our Commitment 2030 Fund partner Water For People is working on one of the most crucial issues facing our planet and therefore facing us: water.
Fresh, potable water is essential to life. It’s also incredibly scarce. Even though three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, less than one percent (0.007% to be exact) is accessible for human use. And that tiny percentage needs to serve the needs of an ever-growing human population—a near impossibility given the unsustainable way most of us currently use and consume water.
Partnership by definition is symbiotic. And the mutual benefit derived is a result of mutual investment, even if the currency is different. For months we’ve been excitedly focused on our Commitment 2030 Fund partners – The Hunger Project, CHOICE Humanitarian, The Pachamama Alliance, and Water For People – and how we’re financing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through investing money in their work.
This time, since partnership is a two-way street, let’s think about how we can better uphold our end of the bargain. If the SDGs are to succeed, everyone’s investment is required – not only of money, but of mindfulness. Let’s take a look at water.
Water. We can’t live without it. Yet for years we in the developed world have taken it for granted. Like a mother’s love, we’ve expected it to always be there. But now that’s changing, fast.
In California, we’re in our third year of the most serious drought in 500 years. For the first time, we’ve begun depleting our aquifers, the deep groundwater tables that have taken millennium to build up and that hold no-one-knows-how-much water. What we do know is that we’re taking it out of the aquifers faster than nature can replenish it. With California being one of the world’s major food producers, that’s a problem for everyone.