(With thanks to Robyn Whittaker of PFP, whose speech at the PFP event forms part of this blog)
The We Are White River initiative was born back in 2015. An idea someone had to find a way to bring together the diverse sections of the community that many of you reading this call “home”. Everything starts with an idea. Every day there are millions of ideas that never see the light of day. You’ve probably had a few yourself. Ideas that roam around, free as birds, hoping to find a receptive and willing mind to drop into, where they will be turned into reality.
And there’s the rub – because turning an idea into reality takes action. Someone who is willing to get up, show up and do what’s necessary to make it happen. We all love TALKING about ideas. We love throwing our opinion into the ring, putting forward suggestions about how it should be done. But the moment we are asked to step up and take action, we run for the hills. Make our excuses, ignore the emails, the Facebook requests, look the other way.
Recently I was part of a Celebration Event which was the culmination of a year of partnership between 5 local business leaders (of which We Are White River’s founder Hilton Barnett was one) and 5 school principals. Run by Partners for Possibility pfp4sa.org, this partnership provides mentorship in business skills, leadership and management for principals in under-resourced schools. For a year I managed the 5 partnerships. This Celebration was the partners sharing the story of their year together. What amazing stories of success, progress and initiative were shared that night. What a difference had been made at 5 local schools.
Often, when you are in the middle of trying to start or to build something, working on the details, it can be frustrating and feel like you are going nowhere slowly. You question what you are doing and wonder whether there is any point to it. But when you take the time to look back and reflect, you realise just how much you have achieved. Look where We Are White River is now – actively building community and bridges, creating awareness about the wonderful town we live in, promoting businesses. There is an app, a Facebook page, a website. All born from someone’s idea and their willingness to take the action to make it happen.
When we show up, when we start by doing first what is necessary, then what is possible, suddenly, without knowing it, we are achieving the impossible. The magic begins to happen. Think of the Casterbridge Music Development Academy. The Lowveld Book Festival. The Bagdad Market. They all started as an idea, a thought process. And someone willing to make it happen.
To quote John Donne “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” Never under-estimate your power to affect positive change in your community. You can make a difference – all it needs is that first step. Ordinary, fallible, vulnerable people achieving extra-ordinary things and helping our community and our country to thrive.