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Posts from the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Remembering the fallen

The Fallen

Tonight is the eve of Remembrance Day and I’m struck by how grateful I feel to be sitting in the warmth and comfort of my own home – unafraid and with ample freedoms. Our country is one of the fortunate ones where people are not actively persecuted for their ideas and opinions, religious beliefs, political dissonance, or under constant threat of war and death.

It has been just under eight years since I was in Afghanistan. I wasn’t there as part of military service, but as a civilian. Upon meeting some of our Canadian troops at a Canada Day event the Consulate was putting on one year, the question I was asked over and over was “how can you be here as a civilian? I can’t even imagine”. Because you see, they couldn’t believe how people like me could go about our days working and living without protection (armed with firepower) – particularly in light of the things they saw and were exposed to on a daily basis. They were all too aware of the constant dangers that faced us all. However, the reality was that people like me were protected… by them. Because they were out patrolling, I got to sleep at night. As one of the protected, I never had to see or be exposed to the kinds of things our military personnel did.

One incident that remains vivid in my memory was a suicide bomber attack on an ISAF troop vehicle right outside my work compound, which resulted in us going into lockdown for over ten hours well into the night. It was the military personnel who cleared the roads, completed two more controlled detonations, and had to deal with the threat of additional suicide bombers who might take advantage of the situation. It was not me. The people like me were inside our compound in lockdown, waiting. Waiting for safety, and eventually, the escorts to take us home. And they did.

I’ll never forget.

And on this eve of Remembrance Day, it seems right that we think back and remember the current and other wars before us and all the men and women who gave their lives for our current future. I was so moved when I came across the news of the project “The Fallen” created by British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss, along with hundreds of volunteers earlier this fall. Read more


Remembering our veterans: One veteran’s transformation

I’m not going to lie, this one had me tearing up.

Just in time for Remembrance Day next Monday (or Veteran’s Day for those of you in the US), Dégagé Ministries worked closely with Rob Bliss Creative to release this beautiful time-lapse video showing the transformation of Jim Wolf, a US Army veteran who has struggled with homelessness, poverty, and alcoholism for decades.

The video is shows how much of a difference a hair cut, and new clothes can make. For Jim, it’s also the starting point he needed to start taking control of his own life. Since the film was shot in September 2013, Jim has started attending Alcoholics Anonymous for the first time and is scheduled to have his own housing.

It’s really worth watching as we remember those now passed on and those who are still with us who sacrificed greatly for us all. Lest we forget.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! The happiness experiment

I came across this video a couple weeks ago, and it’s given me much food for thought since. And now that we’ve arrived at the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought it’d be a great thing to post in the spirit of the holiday.

So as you get ready for the time spent with family and friends, perhaps over a large feast of sorts, if you have time, check out this video. And for those of you not residing in Canada, it’s still a fantastic video carrying a great message and reminder of a special thing that carries a lucky byproduct: happiness.

I won’t say too much more. Just watch the video.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everybody.

Power of a thought

eeyore_snow“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
― A.A. Milne

We’ve all had those times when we feel at our limit. We’re not able to keep up, and the smallest things trigger feelings of frustration or anxiety. At times like these, it can be difficult to find the lighter side of life; and even with the knowledge that all things must come to an end, no solace or comfort is felt. Sometimes, it feels that there really is no rest for the weary.

Read more

Inspiring words from Bill Watterson to college grads, a tribute

Gavin Aung Than had always found his greatest inspiration and influence from Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes. Although Watterson retired more than ten years ago in 1995, when Gavin was still young, in the years that followed, Gavin began to immerse himself in the world Watterson had created and still draws inspiration from his favourite comics. Recently, Gavin took words from Watterson’s 1990 commencement speech to Kenyon College and brought them to life in a comic done in a style that mimics Calvin & Hobbes, as a tribute.

Watterson’s words themselves are thought provoking and inspiring – particularly for anyone in the process of figuring out the famous “what do I want to be when I grow up” and carving a niche out for themselves… So, most of us? The journey of self reflection and the pursuit of meaningful work certainly doesn’t stop after landing the first job and starting a career post-graduation. Usually, it’s only the beginning, and Watterson’s words reflect that.

Gavin’s tribute is beautiful. And it seems the world and old fans of Calvin & Hobbes think so too. The comic has since gone viral and been shared globally. It isn’t available in print, as it would go against Watterson’s own principles around licensing. However, you can see more of Gavin’s art and read about his tribute on his blog at Zen Pencils.

Inspiring words by Bill Watterson, comic by Gavin Aung Than

Billboard that creates potable water from the air

It all started with the impending start of the University of Engineering and Technology’s (UTEC) application period and its need to capture the attention of potential students. Based in Lima, Peru, where potable water is limited and the air humidity is 98%, the University launched a very different kind of campaign: a billboard advertising their school that also contained the technology necessary to capture the air humidity with an air filter and turning it into drinkable water through a condenser and water filter. Each billboard contained a water tank that could carry up to 20L of water.

UTEC not only showcases the very benefit of what their institution offers, but also developed a great way of building awareness and relationships with the very communities they want to draw students from at the grassroots level.

Everybody wins. And, it’s brilliant.

For the marketers and brands out there: how can you better integrate your product or service as a benefit to the communities you’re a part of? Is there a way of also integrating your messaging intrinsically into what you’re doing in a way that demonstrates what you offer – rather than just saying what you offer? Of course, not every product lends itself as beautifully to an idea and execution like UTEC, but perhaps there are other ways of bringing product offering and service to a community together that’s beyond donated dollars and the social responsibility programs often isolated from the rest of the company.

Something to think about.

Dan Pallotta: A call to change how we think about charity and fundraising

The not for profit sector is a topic that has been frequenting mealtime conversation in my circles lately. So, when I watched Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk about (in his words) “how the things we’ve been taught to think about giving and about charity and about the non profit sector are actually undermining the causes we love and our profound yearning to change the world”, I was struck by how ripe the conversation was and how strongly his words resonated.

In a time when the new generations entering the workforce are increasingly driven to find fulfilling work that ties into social good, and organizations are faced with growing pressure to operate more transparently, taking into account a deeper set of social, environmental, and financial responsibilities… the social good and cause sector is evolving far beyond just philanthropy and sponsorship. It is becoming an integral part of business, our social fabric, and an expectation. The not for profit sector can’t help but also experience a shift alongside this evolution.

Pallotta has a great deal of experience and expertise in the area being the intellectual powerhouse who invented the multi-day charitable event through AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days years ago, and activated a tremendous amount of support and participation through his events and initiatives. But these successes were not without their challenges – which he gets into in his talk.

Aside from perfectly articulating the core disadvantages he feels the charity-sector faces, Pallotta sends a compelling message about how we think about charities, giving, and not for profit and the ideological shift required to really make a difference. It’s inspiring.

At the heart of his talk, Pallotta speaks to five major areas where non profits are disadvantaged when compared to for profits. Read more

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