It’s the 16th of January 2012 and we’re taking some time to nail down the cunning plans we hatched in 2011. Get everyone on board, so we’re all on the same page, speaking from the same sheet, singing the same tune, blah-de-blah-de-blah! Does that sound like jargon-speak-waffle or what!!!
2011 flew past and I had only just recovered from the hype of the 2010 World Cup! The year ended with COP17 which was gone in a blur and those who attended were blown away by the event, even though the initial expectations were low for the environmentalists and conservationists, I have only received positive input from attendees. Knowledge sharing, a sense of momentum, common understanding of the very real dangers facing our lives as we continue to plunder the finite resources under our feet and pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink. Are we really such a destructive species? Sadly, yes! Clearly quite stupid as well! Like cutting a branch off a tree and sitting on the end of the branch while you’re doing it, or burning a bridge from both sides and you’re in the middle?!
2011 was a massive learning curve for African Conservation Trust. And for many of our strategic partners too, I suspect. We are forging meaningful partnerships, working together instead of in silos. We, and I mean the collective of environmental and agricultural NGO’s in the Pietermaritzburg (and Durban) area, are sharing, partnering, growing, learning, building a legacy, which will hopefully last beyond the dynamic leadership that currently exists.
Once the "what" is decided, the "how" always follows. We must not make the "how" an excuse for not facing and accepting the "what." – Pearl S. Buck
Do the RIGHT thing. Avoid analysis paralysis. Wherever there is a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. There comes a time when one must firmly choose your course or the relentless passage of time will make the decision for you. 2012 is the time. It is the first year of the rest of your life. Choose carefully. Then spring into action. Action cures fear!
My sense is that there is a groundswell of community engagement, a desire to take ownership, a spirit of hope, here in the KwaZulu Natal. Perhaps it is my lens, but then again, who’s to say that my perception is not reality. What is your reality? What are you doing to make it happen?
This is what ACT is driving for. It’s our byline, you know, under the signature on the emails…Conservation, Innovation, Education.
By Conservation, we mean…an environment free of pollution, clean air, clean water and clean, fertile soil. We aim to help establish 1 million food gardeners in this province by 2015. We will build on our legacy of rock art heritage, continuing to pioneer the interface of technology and ancient art. We will continue to recycle and rehabilitate degraded landscapes and plant thousands of trees. We will further develop our rainwater harvesting projects and the BioFarm as a model in Nongoma. We will champion the cause of conservation with Project Rhino members, and build on the legacy of the pioneers in this province.
By Innovation, we mean…bring new insights to the use of technology in heritage mapping and the environmental sector. We will further develop the GIGABite Gardens programme, creating a database of 1 million gardeners by 2015. We will harness the networking capacity of the internet and cellphones. (As a technology immigrant I confess this escapes me. Whatever happened to face to face? But today’s technology residents (ie youth!) are quite frankly, stupendous and amazing with their ability to multitask in media!!) We will explore new frontiers in natural resource harvesting and lay foundations for future generations.
By Education, we mean… build skills and expertise in the field of Conservation Agriculture, through a network of trainers and facilitators, guided by a mentorship group that serves with passion. We will bring together the players in this field, so that collectively we can help our communities to help themselves, to feed themselves, to care for their immediate environment and to understand the fragility of our existence. We will continue to support and assist other NGO’s in KZN and throughout SADC through our nSimbi programme and strengthen links with higher learning institutions to create a new generation of conscious, action-oriented individuals.
We will do this in partnership with our friends and fellow NGO’s. And this rising tide will lift all ships.
For me it is quite clear. NGO’s are changing radically. They have always filled the vacuum left by government and business. Politics and Economics. Government takes time to deliver. Moeletsi Mbeki speaks of this in his book “Architects of Poverty” (my festive season read!). In many instances the forces that drive our economy and our country, our region, our continent are beyond our personal ability to change. They are part of a 100 year plan for resource utilisation, driven by economic and political allies, who seek control and power. Heavy, I know, but read this insightful book and then challenge this perspective.
NGO’s are behaving more like business (with less exploitation we hope!), social entrepreneurship is rising, and consciousness is climbing, discerning choices being made and communities no longer accepting the status quo. We have business plans, focus areas, and address real needs for our stakeholders. At least we continue to work to these goals!
So what are we to do? The question is not what but when. Just do something. We have a policy here at ACT where our team staff are encouraged to volunteer a few days a year (on our time) at the cause of their choice, and it doesn’t have to be environmental, just something… Walk a granny or clean kennels at the SPCA, read to some old folks at a home. We don’t care what you do, just do something. Something that matters to you… something that makes a difference in someone else ‘s life. And then come back and tell us at the next staff meeting! You’ll feel better for it!
So what will 2012 bring for you? Focus, direction, significance? Become a giver, you’ll be surprised at how good YOU feel if you do. It’s a bit selfish really, but try it!
What’s your dream? John Maxwell says a dream helps you to focus, to stretch yourself, to sacrifice (there are no shortcuts to success), it helps you to persevere, it attracts winners, and to depend on your faith and others.
Most of us lose sight of our dreams somewhere between puberty and our first job. Don’t let your dreams die under the dark weight of responsibility (Midnight Oil, Australian rock band!)
Isn’t that what life is about? Having a dream and chasing it? So make 2012 the beginning of the rest of your life. Make it end differently to 2011. YOU be your own champion! And be a hero to others. We hope we can create some of this at ACT. We’re going to give it a go!
Chat again soon.