Everybody wants to change the world but nobody wants to change themselves

Mon 12th – Sun 18th March 2018

It’s getting better

Change is coming! Well at least change in terms of the weather and daylight. OK freezing cold and snow at the weekend but gradually things are getting warmer. And brighter – clocks forward very shortly. It’s lovely to wake up around 6.30 and find it’s light with longer evenings as well. I love it. Even on shitty days, you know that the best is yet to come. It’s not like a good day in autumn when you know winter is ahead. πŸ™‚

Congratulations - you've done wellBeyond change in the weather, congrats to the anti-Trump candidate Conor Lamb for victory in last week’s Pennsylvania special election. Hopefully a nail in the Trump coffin which in turn is a nail in the Brexit and Putin coffins. How did we end up with this axis of evil – Trump, Brexit, Putin?

Tell me how to change

I am very aware in these blogs that I frequently repeat myself; that my life is not as varied as I would like it to be. I do try to do different things, hopefully with the result that things around me change and get better. Some things don’t seem to progress like me losing weight or doing more coding practice. Dear reader, if you want to give me advice on how I can change and do things better then please leave a comment to tell me. πŸ™‚

Home alone

Thurs, Dave went off to Spain which I should have been going to with him. πŸ™ It was all part of the sabbatical I was going to have that did not happen due to my new job. And I could not just take leave simply because I ain’t got enough days left. Plus it’s a really important time at work with Sport Relief (big shout out to the gorgeous Greg James for his Gregathlon success).

Brian

brighton pierMuch time spent last week focusing on my friend Brian who is seriously ill. I went through his phone list to tell various people that he was not well as he requested and encourage them to visit. It was particularly good to put him in touch with the vicar.

Chilled journey down

Then on Sun I went down to Brighton to see him. It was a visit I had planned before he got more ill, so transport and hotel were booked. However, the train would have arrived too late to enable me to get to his flat to clear up and sort before going up to see him in the afternoon. So I booked a cheap ticket for the 8am coach on Sun morning. It’s actually quite a nice journey. Takes 2 hours but the coach is only ever half full and it gives me time to do some reading.

Tidying his flat

Freezing cold in Brighton. I spent a couple of hours at his flat cleaning and sorting, producing a couple of bags of rubbish and a big pile of recycling. Brian had also asked me to sort through his ‘business’ papers and I did that. Then up in an uber to see him. Had to take an uber because of all the stuff he had requested me to bring including a picture for his room. We are trying to make it more homely. I also bought him a radio as I thought he could listen to it at night if he can’t sleep.

At the nursing home

I thought Brian himself was a bit better than last week. His voice was stronger. I suspect food, water, being cared for, clean sheets, etc are doing him good. Though he is still frail and fundamentally confined to bed. You can see his body is weak and the effort is tough. But his resilience and determination to keep going whilst maintaining his dignity is inspirational.

Other friends

Rob

After seeing Brian on Sun night, I go the bus back in the freezing cold and checked into the hotel then off in the swirling snow to meet my mate Rob – also known as Swing-It. πŸ™‚ He’s fine and we had a good catch-up. Useful talking to him as he is a social worker who supports older people. We both talked about our retirement plans. Back to the hotel to have a wine and do some reading in the hotel bar before an early night in bed.

Dom Ruffy

It was actually a busy week for seeing friends. After meeting colleagues at Esmee on Thurs afternoon, I met up with my friend and colleague Dominic Ruffy. We worked together on the brilliant Give It Up addiction recovery work funded by Russell Brand. Really nice to catch up with Dom and bounce ideas around for future projects.

Dom

Then on Thurs night I met with my old mate Dom (another Dom!) who I have known for about 30 years. We had a nice curry and caught up on life. So much of his time is spent looking after his mum these days, his mum’s care needs are much more than mine at the moment. Then sadly on Sun he phoned me whilst I was in Brighton to tell me that another old friend of ours for many years had passed away.

Life is short, enjoy it.

Innovation & Creativity

Social investment

art installationMuch of my work is now focused on social investment – also called impact investment, social impact investing, and other variations. Basically it sits between grants/donations/gifts at one end of a spectrum and at the other end investing to just ensure the maximum financial return. It is the idea that you invest money, and perhaps get it back, so that the money has social impact plus financial return.

It’s just like tech for good

Coffee computer pen+paperWe are recruiting someone to run our social investment fund (‘Red Shed’ – don’t ask) but he won’t be in post until May. So me and Jennifer Gordon are pushing things forward. I have realised is there are a lot of similarities between Social Investment and Tech for Good – my old area of responsibility:

  • Multiple names and disagreement on a specific definition
  • Fundamentally very simple but made complex
  • Suitable for some but not for all
  • Stuff has been happening for ages but under radar
  • Definitely part of future in grantmaking and for funding not-for-profit projects

Indeed, I think I need to work with my colleagues to do with ‘social investment’ and ‘experiential travel’ what I did with ‘tech for good’. Make them central to our organisational offer and so provide a new USP (unique selling point) to what we do. This is the challenge which I accept. πŸ™‚

A very grown-up conference

Two NESTA events last week and one of them was a conference about Social Investment on Tues afternoon. A very intense 3 hour session but right to do it that way rather than stretch over the whole day. Main topic was how foundations and funders should use their investments not only to give financial return but also for social & environmental benefit.

General learning was that companies generally are so keen to also deliver social benefit these days (in response to public demand) that investments based on financial returns with social / environmental impact are as good as general financial returns.

Take-away lessons:

  1. Huge amounts of money that institutions have – there was talk of billions to be invested and investment companies, pension funds, etc handling trillions
  2. Important for us as part of pension funds, banks, shareholders, etc to use our power to press these bodies to focus on investments with financial + social / environmental returns
  3. Us as consumers must patronise and support companies and bodies trying to deliver those social / environmental returns as they do their business

The generosity of colleagues in other organisations

overwhelmed by noticesThurs afternoon I had a meeting with my colleagues at Esmee Fairbairn to find out more about their work in the social investment field. Really useful to talk to them and I am so grateful that they made the time.

Also they have offered to share the paperwork they use in making these investments. So important that we share resources and expertise where possible to save everyone time and money.

Looking to the future

Social investment aside, there was a bent in last week that was very much about looking to the future. This was demonstrated by a couple of interesting workshops. First on Mon, one to look at where we want generally to target our resources in the future.

Then on Wed afternoon one led by Forum for the Future and Bond to do an exercise in future thinking. All fits with my personal philosophy that all the past gives us is learning. Present is now and most important thing is to think about, plan, and dream for the future.

Digital social innovation and walking back with Martha

tech matters for AfricaWed morning I was back at NESTA (perhaps I should just have slept there πŸ™‚ ) for a session on a new project they are doing to map across Europe the best places for Digital Social Innovation – also called Tech for Good or Social Tech.

This will mainly be used by policy makers looking to develop and attract DSI rather than practitioners themselves i.e. people with an idea looking for developers to work with. Good to see, albeit briefly, my old job-share colleague Nissa Ramsay. We must meet for coffee soon.

Particularly lovely to walk back from NESTA to the office with my colleague Martha Young who now oversees our Tech for Good work. She is very busy with assessments for the latest programme and I agreed to sign off a few to help her. So nice just to walk and chat thereby catching up with someone I don’t get enough time to talk with these days. Great to see how well she is handling her new role. She did have some bad news on Fri when her granny broke her hip. My best wishes for a swift recovery.

Fun at work

Finally, two fun things that happened at work last week:

First,Β Dilhani is back – hooray ! πŸ™‚

Second, I was handling leaving cards on Wed and I did not realise but the glitter went all over my face and wouldn’t come off. At the future thinking workshop, everyone kept asking me, ‘Do you know you’ve got glitter on your face?’

Health and Efficiency

Gym

Old magazine coverGym four times last week: mornings of Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sat. Not brilliantly spaced to encourage recovery. Especially as Fri is a swap for next Tues morning which means I might not be in the gym this week until Thurs morning. Good sessions. My friend Etienne who does training there showed me some new exercises for my glutes (theory – strong thighs and glutes help knees).

Food

Definitely got into the habit of not having breakfast before I go to the gym. Not always easy but there is the importance of creating good routines and working through ‘pain’. I’m back with that fantastic saying that is the title of this blog: everyone wants to change the world but nobody wants to change themselves.

Personal Development

Some concrete progress on Duolingo – done on 5 days out of 7. Nothing to report around coding practice. Pretty good on emails especially personal ones where I’m down to only ever about 50 sitting there waiting to be read.

Books and Reading

‘From the Heart’ by Susan Hill

Susan Hill is an author I have a lot of time for. A great female writer and prodigious in her output. She also covers a range of genres from crime to horror. This is a fascinating book. Set in Britain during the 50s, it tells the story of a young woman dealing with mistakes, grief, and love. I wonder how much of it is semi-biographical?

It really is a novella (short novel) but still very good though it did feel a little bit rushed. Also it is a story that drifts, like a snapshot of someone’s life. I quite enjoyed this because it demonstrates the transience of life and our lack of control over it. But I could guess why some don’t like it with the feeling that we are not in control of life, that it not planned, and that everything doesn’t happen for the best with good triumphing in the end. The beauty of life as you look back, me thinks.

‘Hag-Seed’ by Margaret Atwood

Sub-titled ‘The Tempest Retold’, this is part of a series of books in which famous authors re-tell the classic plays of Shakespeare. I have not seen The Tempest but this book is beautifully written. Indeed, Margaret is a great writer who has written classics such as ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Hag-Seed explains the story of the The Tempest and goes a long way to exploring the meanings of the playwright’s writings. It’s dressed up in a very modern production of the play (in a prison) and the plot of the book follows the play’s story. Lots of emphasis on prisons, spirits, revenge, and forgiveness. Overall, a pleasure to read and fully recommended.

The Week Ahead:

  • Dave is back on Thurs – hooray! πŸ™‚
  • Sport Relief climaxes on Fri with the Night of TV at Media City in Salford
  • Flare – The London LGBT Film Festival begins. I’ve only booked 2 movies to see with the first on Thurs afternoon, ‘Martyr’
  • Very likely down to Brighton one day at the weekend to see Brian and continue to tidy up his flat
  • Work: Mon afternoon, Tues morning (external meeting), then all day Wed & Fri
  • ICT4D meet-up on Tues night. Should be good as it’s on ‘ICT as a catalyst for gender equality’. Only problem is that it’s in Canary Wharf (nightmare for me to get to) and I’m usually knacked by the evening.
  • Gym 2 or 3 times – depends if I can make Tues afternoon, I much prefer doing gym in the morning – suits my body clock. Possible I could even replace a gym session next weekend with a jog-run if the weather is good enough.
  • Continue trying to make progress on languages, coding, and emails
  • Target is to read at least one new book

 

And Finally…

So two greats died last week – greats but in very different ways. First Ken Dodd who was hilariously silly and funny. Then Stephen Hawking. πŸ™

 

 

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