Hard-Wired for Connection
By Corin Blanchard
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.
The summit gave us the opportunity to interact with institutional representatives from global entities like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme. We heard from specialized academics and shared notes with leaders–both students and professionals–on various non-profit initiatives. There were youth changemakers, journalists, social entrepreneurs, micro-financiers and impact investors. It was dynamic, inter-generational, multi-faceted, and a lot to integrate!
We also discovered our edges; words, concepts, ways of being that bumped up against our FeelGood-imbued ideas of how to end poverty and hunger. On breaks, we found ourselves commiserating about our moments of disappointment as well as delight and, with our partners Ross and Jan Wallace from The Hunger Project (THP)-Canada, pointing to the work of THP and other Commitment 2030 Fund partners. Not with ego-driven pride because we’ve reached some sort of poverty-ending enlightenment, but with excitement around our commonalities and as concrete examples of the empowerment-based, gender-focused, grassroots-driven work that now enjoys general consensus as what is needed.
We celebrated the questions that challenged antiquated concepts, approaches, and language. We let ourselves play in the sandbox of “how do WE do this thing? All of us together?” We discussed the contrasts between international development and policies versus domestic efforts. We heard about progress and got a reality check on where we’re headed in light of climate change. And we ruminated on the necessity of simultaneous efforts at the individual and collective levels to transform ourselves, our institutions, our governments, our policies, and our relationships.
This event was not at all like a FeelGood Peak Experience–but it was a transformative and promising endeavor in its own right. I left encouraged and ignited, with more perspective but also more questions. One thing that landed, though, was this: true ego-less collaboration is essential if we are going to end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.
It’s not always easy. In fact, it can be downright uncomfortable and unfamiliar. We will disagree. We will stumble. But in the process we’ll forge a path toward one another; just not necessarily a linear one. We will feel vulnerable and frustrated, but we will also feel elated and amazed.
And with each small victory–where everyone surges forward together–our individual and collective systems will recognize and reinforce what our deepest hard-wiring contains: the promise of co-creating at every moment, and thereby authoring our destiny.
This post was originally published on the Feel Good blog on March 4, 2015.