Two Saturdays ago, I had the privilege of attending the Transformational Media Summit hosted by the UN Foundation and other partners at the George Washington University (GWU), Washington DC. I was expecting to learn about new information technology tools to make transformational change. What I learnt? The Bumble Bee Does Not Understand Aerodynamics. Just in the event this is your first time to hear this phrase; it is the first half of a popular idiom- The Bumble-Bee does not understand aerodynamics so it flies. According to the Law of Aerodynamics (yeah,.some laws in Physics), the Bumble Bee’s body-weight (or structure) should prevent it from flying. However, the Bumble-Bee obviously has not been in any physics class. What does this have to do with media or transformation? This story speaks to the power of each and every one to make a change, with simple ideas, tools, words or just-a touch.
At the summit, I listened to Kendall Ciesemier share the story of her organisation-Kids caring for Kids. As a young child of eleven years, she rallied her friends together to support the schooling of young girls in Sub-Sahara Africa. Sarah van Gelder shared on how the Yes! Magazine is changing the lives of young men and women from under-privileged backgrounds. Also, Sean Dagan Wood of Positive News walked us through the intuition behind the Positive News platform- a desire to recalibrate the human mind, soul and the society to focus on positives. According to Sean, positivity drives energy. These are no super-stars on Hollywood red carpets (there is nothing wrong with being one), yet they have recognized that one single change they can make to transform one inch of society into a better space. For many of these people, their circumstances, fears, insecurities and doubts was enough to stop their dreams of change. But like the Bumble-Bee, they chose to believe in the possible.
I actually gained some technical and creative media knowledge. It was a proud moment when the Shuga T.V series airing in Nigeria was profiled as a best-practice for social change. To see the Nigerian Music super-star Tiwa Savage on that screen was a moment of intense pride (Up Naija!). Indeed, the Shuga T.V. series is quite popular. Even for someone who does not watch much of TV, I have been forced to search out the series due to online conversations on social issues provoked by a scene or episode of the series. Really, I just had to watch it. This series have brought to the public conscious those sensitive social issues we are all aware of, but no one talks about. I hope to spend some more time following episodes of the program.
If I learnt one thing from the Transformational Media summit, it was the power of voice and touch as the most transformational of Medias for social change. The video by the Jane Goodall Institute, which showed the moment a Baboon (?) was released back into the wilds remain one of the most poignant images I have seen this year. The Baboon took one look at the wilds, and one look at Jane Goodall, rushed to embrace Jane and pranced into the wilds. In that moment, I realized what the best of social media would not achieve-the power of a touch motivated by love. The love and commitment of the Jane Goodall institute to endangered animals is definitely something beyond awesome. Last but not the least-Voice. There was a video of powerful spoken word poetry on climate change that captured the viewing audience and brought quite a few close to tears. If the tears did not flow then, it did flow when at the closing ceremony a young man rendered several pieces of spoken word poetry. A stanza stayed with me:
“In 2000 years, we will talk about Michael Jackson walking on the moon just like Jesus, speak about hearing the voice of God from Beats by Dre, Maybe really the next Man sitting next to me is the Savior of the world, I might never know because I am lost in my noise’
We all have noise- in our heads, in our minds and souls. The voice that tells you of all the laws that counts against your dreams and hopes. If you have nothing else-no talent, no social media skills, no money-you have your voice and touch. And then like the Bumble Bee, the Laws of Aerodynamics (or Laws of Success) will mean nothing at all. Your voice and touch are enough media to transform the world.