“(...) your desire to be a changemaker can go hand in hand with the many different aspects of your own journey.” ― Dax Dasilva, Age of Union: Igniting the Changemaker
One may assume that in order to become a changemaker you must have studied in a certain field, however, that is not always the case. There are many inspiring changemakers who have come from a different path and have used it to their advantage to reach the top of their fields, and we have the unique ability to be motivated by and learn from their stories.
Scott Harrison started Charity: Water in 2006, after a life-changing voyage. Fourteen years later, Charity: Water is one of the most impactful charities when it comes to bringing water where it is most needed in the world, with 51,438 projects funded in 28 countries so far. Through hard work and determination, Scott Harrison managed to bring together and solve two problems at once. The environmental aspect of purifying polluted water and the humanitarian one, since the population of these areas were directly and negatively impacted by the lack of clean water. But Scott hasn't always run a charity. He used the skills he obtained from his successful career as a nightlife promoter, and applied his knowledge of producing events and utilized all his contacts from the club scene to bring his charity to life.
“After a decade of indulging his darkest vices as a nightclub promoter, Scott declared spiritual, moral, and emotional bankruptcy. He spent two years on a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, saw the effects of dirty water firsthand, and came back to New York City on a mission.”
Kim Bruneau is a model and real estate agent, however, her passion has always been to protect wildlife. She uses large social media following and community contacts to bring awareness to the local initiative she started called “Les Belles est Les Betes” to help save animals in distress. Her motivation is to inspire everyone to feel confident in their own skin and believes this is needed in order for society to move forward and change the way they treat animals. She also encourages people to lead by example as a way to make a point, rather than by imposing our choices on the others.
“I do what I feel is right to better my environment and my community. I follow my heart and I lead by example, not by telling others what to do. Those who are inspired may join me and those who aren’t may continue their way. I don’t believe in pushing my ideas on people or making them feel bad for their choices but rather educate them through an open conversation.”
Benjamin Wong comes from a mining engineering career. Photography was, at first, just a hobby, but slowly, it became his full-time career. Wong uses his art to create installations that bring awareness to our world’s most dire environmental issues. He encourages other creative minds to seek out inspiring figures and use their work as inspiration and examples for their own work, but at the same time emphasizes the need to find one's own path, as the road we each travel can never be the same shape, for each of our life’s journeys are uniquely our own to follow.
“How do your skills matter and how do you use them to have an impact? My journey is unique to me, anyone as to find their own way”
Kerry Bowman is a bioethicist and environmentalist at the University of Toronto. He has been an academic and consultant in the environmental field for the majority of his career. In 2000, he decided that the best way to make a difference is to get more hands-on. He started an NGO in Congo called the Canadian Ape Alliance, focusing on the conservation and awareness of all Great Apes and the environment they live in. With 20 plus years of experience in the field as a conservationist consultant and teacher, Kerry shows that patience is golden, and time, is your best ally when branching out on your own.
Dax Dasilva is the CEO of the tech company Lightspeed, however, he has been influenced and fascinated with culture, nature and spirituality. Even when creating the software and company culture for Lightspeed, he drew his inspiration from wanting to create a sustainable product that helped the lives of the people in his community, the fabric of our economy, small business owners. Five years ago, he took his passion for culture and started the Never Apart Center, a non-profit organization in Montréal, Québec, Canada, which uses art, performance, music, writing, and dance to bring about social change and spiritual awareness. Most recently, in 2019, he published his first book titled Age of Union: Igniting the Changemaker, which is a dynamic call to all global citizens to join together to save our one true home, the planet. Dax not only let his passion for culture and nature influence his experience in programming and technology, but is now utilizing his background in tech to give him a unique vision and plan of action for his future environmental and community projects.
Changemakers can come from any background and be anyone. Having qualifications or experience outside of a humanitarian or environmental protection studies degree or career is not an obstacle that prevents you from taking action. On the contrary, it’s an asset. It allows you to tackle problems from a different perspective, allowing you to bring a new dynamic to the philanthropic landscape.
3 tips for igniting the changemaker in you
Make a list of what you are good at
Any asset can be transposed for a work acting for the good of the environment
Be inspired and find your own way to run your project
Pick an inspiring figure or a model to start, but remember, your journey is unique
Patience is golden, and time, your best ally
Take your time to build up a strong project and make long-term plans and commitments