Finding Inspiration to Leverage What We Have to Help Others
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend South by Southwest this year. The show inspired me career-wise, but also opened my eyes to how I might be able to leverage my passions and skills to help the social needs out there today.
Two of the most impactful sessions were ones that addressed social good via imagery, and social good via food.
Social Good via Imagery: The Emotional Connection of Physical and Digital
This heartwarming session covered the topic of how imagery can be one of the most emotional mediums to use in building awareness for social issues around the world. The moderator, Michelle Dunn Marsh, brought in key panelists who shared their imagery and cause-related projects to demonstrate how the simple art of a photo or video can express reality and emotion at a glance.
One of the presentations in this session that I found most inspiring was by Becci Manson, who detailed her photo restoration project related to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
In the wake of that natural disaster, there were thousands of photos washed into the piles of wreckage–and all of them were wet, at best. Most images were tumbled and tattered, and worst of all, they were separated from their owners. Becci Manson had traveled to Japan to help with the clean-up efforts, but immediately knew that her photo restoration skills could be of value, as well. Becci, together with local volunteers and a global group of colleagues that she recruited online, helped dry, clean, scan, archive, and fix more than 150,000 images in order to help bring those memories back to their owners.
During the SXSW session, Becci shared various before and after images. She talked about how returning even one photo helped cities and families rescue their communal and cultural memories, and the emotional reward of making that happen. She also discussed how important it was for her to leverage her network and social media to build a scalable solution to contribute to the effort.
Inspiration: Use your skill set to help a cause that you care about, and you, too, can make a difference in the world.
Social Good via Food: Ways Tech Is Reinventing Our Food Ecosystem
This year, South by Southwest Interactive offered several sessions and exhibits covering the next generation of food and technology. As a food enthusiast, I found these sessions to be of particular interest.
When it comes to the food industry, sustainability and availability are paramount for the social good of our world. If applied properly, technological innovation can be an ideal way to ensure sustainability and availability, and the following company is among those doing just that.
Built inside a 40-ft. shipping container, Local Roots Farms is a mobile farm that can grow the equivalent of five acres of land, 365 days a year, with up to 99% less water than conventional agriculture. It uses machine learning combined with LED lighting and climate control to optimize growth anywhere. The team is passionate about improving produce growth and excited by the possibility of growing produce in a pesticide- and herbicide-free environment.
Inspiration: Look at the technologies you have access to and see if you can apply them to a new way of contributing to the greater good. If these examples have motivated you to get started on the path to making a difference for others, the following tips might help:
- Identify your passion and skill set. Reflect upon what you like about your job and your home life, and think about what gets you out of bed in the morning, excited to greet the day. Ask your family, friends, co-workers, and boss what they see as your strengths; for example, children, education, health, animals, the environment, or the homeless.
- Find a cause to support. There are numerous organizations that look for volunteers; the following websites can help you discover the ones that match your interest.
- Don’t overcommit! It’s easy to become passionate about a wonderful cause, but do realize that every organization will take as much of your skills, finances, and time as you are willing to give. Start slowly and grow from there!
All in all, SXSW 2017 was a very inspiring week of learning how we can leverage what we have around us to help bring new ideas to light in parallel with social consciousness.