Saturday, April 2, 2011

David, Goliath, Apathy and Barefeet: How grassroots should trump the corporate agenda

Corporations can do good things. Their sponsorship is important to help with change around the world.

I don't intend this to be a competition. In fact it can't be. But this is a bit of a David and Goliath story. I'm asking you to support David. Well his name is really Bilaal.

In April 2009 I met Bilaal Rajan when he presented an amazing keynote at a conference called The Humber Initiative on Philanthropy. HIP is cool because it is a fundraising conference organized by fundraising students. Bilaal was cool because he is has raised over $5 million for various causes and is the youngest Ambassador ever for UNICEF, worldwide. The two together were AWESOME.

I left the 2009 HIP conference inspired and eager to read Bilaal's book. Making Change: tips from an underage overacheiver.

It is a great book and deserved a review. But, it didn't make sense for me to do it. So I asked my daughter Skye, who is the same age as Bilaal, to do it. Here is her review.

Fast forward two years and I discovered a video from Tom's shoes talking about going barefoot. (you can find the video online easily enough - you don't need the link here) I quickly posted the link on my facebook page, excited at what I thought was Bilaal's grassroots initiative with amazing corporate support. Skye and I decided we would go barefoot with the thousands of others on the day that Tom's told us. Then I looked for a connection to Bilaal. There wasn't one.

Bilaal started going barefoot three years ago during International Volunteer Week April 19-25. You can read about how Bilaal went barefoot for a whole week on his blog. I especially like this post.

I wrote to Bilaal and asked if Tom's is now sponsoring his barefoot challenge. The answer a simple, polite no. His Challenge is now taking place on the International Day of the Child, June 1st and he'd love it if I joined him.

It is great that Toms give away a pair of shoes for every pair they sell and I have no idea how long Tom's has been going barefoot. The two may have nothing to do with each other. Maybe it is a coincidence and Tom's came up with the idea all by themselves. And sure two days to raise awareness for such a big issue is a good thing.

BUT, in a discussion with my daughter about what she thought her response was:

"Bigger people will always take the smaller people's ideas. You should not get so worked up."

APATHY!? Is that how we want to raise our kids?

So I'm writing to the few of you who read this blog and asking you to join me in supporting Bilaal's initiative.

Go barefoot with us on International Children's day - June 1st. Let's also leverage our online social networks together to share this video below and try and get as much momentum as we can for what I consider to be the original Barefoot Challenge.

Please join me. Let's go barefoot on June 1st. For Bilaal, for my daughter and for all the young people who need to know that grassroots initiatives CAN and DO create change in the world. I'll keep you posted here as more information becomes available.

Ignite your enthusiasm and help make social change happen today. Read the book, pick your cause and get started, and soon the change will be making YOU happen.
-Bilaal Rajan

Thank you for spending time here.

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