by Julia Diachkova, SFA Volunteer

There are many ways I can contribute to the sustainable development of the community I live in– I can give money, I can volunteer, I can give away stuff I don’t use, I can consume rationally, I can support local production, I can recycle, I can litter less, I can be a better person than I am now, be more considerate & less detached. I can remember the world is a shared space, and if I want to be happy with my surroundings, I should begin with my own practice.

What I’ve learned recently is that people can do more than they think.  And they actually do. It is not about superpower or empowerment, neither it is about rights and opportunities. It’s about personal values and relatedness. I’ve learned that people are actually willing to help beyond the walls of their own households, neighborhoods, and cities. Not only ‘willing’ … but taking action. And this was one of my most valuable discoveries as of recent.

Reflections from TEDx

Ignorant as it might seem, up to a particular moment I questioned people’s altruistic intentions to help. I thought only professionally-involved individuals would seriously consider and try to tackle the social and ecological catastrophe the divided world was drowned in. All the more important it was for me to learn how wrong I was; the recent TEDx made me #rethink that previous perception of mine.

It was the first time I took part in such a sort of event. Truth to be told, I didn’t expect to see many people willing to discuss sustainable development issues, especially those unrelated to their own country, never mind sustainability issues in countries as far away as Africa. Imagine my surprise (and embarrassment) when as soon as the event kicked off I realized that our team of four SFA partners struggled to handle the flow of participants willing to talk. And it wasn’t idle talks of drop-in visitors, those people were great: knowledgeable, passionate, involved, experienced, curious; they were sharing ideas and insights, telling about their own projects and those of their friends, challenging our approach and inquiring on how to get involved. They were not indifferent

Looking through the sustainability initiatives that were suggested by Tedx delegates, I noticed that quite a number shared a distinctive feature-: use less plastic, eat seasonal food,  consume rationally. All of a sudden the suggestions stand became a resolution board  – what each of us can do differently, how each can change the behavior or attitude to improve the personal settings. And it all looked familiar.

 ‘Doing Things Differently’ 

Here in SFA, members say the goal of the network is to ‘do things differently to promote sustainable development. From what I’ve noticed, this «Do Differently» stands for getting actual results through the work is done; results relevant to the community we’re working with, results that address the needs of local people. The team is diverse, in age, geography, spheres of expertise, however, again from what I’ve noticed, apart from professionalism, they share this “It concerns me” approach. Just like those participants at TEDx. And that, I believe, makes all the difference – when people decide to take action, willing to make whatever contribution they can. When it begins with oneself, rethinking the habitual course of life, the desired results are just a matter of time.

What a day!!! Thanks to @TEDxGlasgow team and all the participants for making it happen. Great to meet so many people willing to make a change & #Rethink the way we address the world and all things in it! #cometogether #SustainableDevelopment

— S F Africa (@SF_Africa) June 1, 2018