NANCY’S BLOG: Elevating For Greater Good.

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Tis’ the season of lists, right? – the best and worst of everything. Even TED has jumped in and offered us an 8 min summary of their favorite talks of 2014. But as the year winds down and we consider memes that come and go so fast (#icebucketchallenge, #saveourgirls, #bestselfie), we can’t help but wonder how the actions we’re taking live way beyond the moment. What is happening now that has the potential to collectively impact what the world will look like decades from now?

In that spirit, we’re excited to share some of the extraordinary accomplishments and audacious ideas that turned us on this year. Featuring many of our PYNKrs, these ideas are fueled by passion, courage, selflessness and a burning desire to make life better. Exhale and enjoy…

 1. The Brainwriter (say what?!)

First up, Dan Goodwin (computational neuroscientist, HATCHer, and all around good guy), who with Mick Eberling and Eliot Kotek at Not Impossible Labs is collaborating with a growing community of creative makers and hackers, to utilize crowd-sourcing to crowd-solve previously insurmountable healthcare issues. Their mantra; “help one, help many.” Each of their projects tells the story of a single individual. “By helping one person, how many others can we help? By focusing on one problem, how many residual problems can we solve?”

Their innovations are many, but perhaps one of the most mind-boggling is a project called the “The Brainwriter, a personal EEG device to operate a computer mouse or gaming console, that creates a seamless interface between brain and machine;” in other words, a next-gen device which allows users to draw and communicate using only their thoughts. Inspired by helping grafitti artist Tempt One who is suffering from ALS, to still make art and communicate, Brainwriter began it’s world tour this summer as part of The Barbican Museum’s Digital Revolution. The exhibit was described as, “the most comprehensive presentation of digital creativity ever to be staged.” Headliner of the Wearable Technologies section, the Brainwriter exhibit allowed museum visitors to interact with and control audio and visual platforms using only their thoughts.

 2. TIME person of the year:  Ebola caregivers such as our pal Joel Selanikio 

What an inspired pick!  And we’ll give a special shout-out to our friend, Joel Selanikio, who is just now completing a month’s stay in Liberia. But his work extends way beyond his brave personal service. Combining his unique background as practicing pediatrician, CDC epidemiologist, former Wall Street computer consultant and homeland security advisor, he and his partners have developed the most widely adopted mobile data open access software in the world of international development, used in nearly every country now by tens of thousands of enterprising social change agents.

In this 2013 TED(x) talk, Joel shares his frustration that it used to take weeks, months, or even years of data entry (transcribing from paper to computer) to collect quite mediocre data. Revolutionizing data collection since 2003, (first as DataDyne, then Magpi), one of Selanikio’s most recent software additions is Magpi Messaging. Introduced in January 2014 and taking the revolution one step further, it allows anyone to easily, quickly, and cheaply create mass messaging campaigns utilizing SMS and/or voice messages in any language. These broadcast, text and voice messages can be used to help coordinate data collection activities, but there are many other potential uses: emergency notifications, worker education, or reminders to take medicines or attend clinic. The possibilities are as limitless as human communication in general.

Thank you Joel! We’ll all hold you safely as you return home healthy and no doubt use your period of quarantine (and I have to imagine, deep reflection…) to draw up the next list of transformative innovations!

 3. Meet these 18 (uh, make that 20) Badass Ladies!

Even with a hungry eye, I find it often too easy to overlook the quiet contribution many women make and so really appreciate this collection of inspiring and damn courageous women who walked through fear to shift the future in often hostile environments that range from the polls of Afganistan to the roadways of Saudi Arabia to the pages of glossy surf magazines and a Formula One race track. It’s a lot to take in at once.

Yet, I’ll also add my admiration for close friends Donna Ferrato (conflict photographer and founder of IAMUNBEATABLE) and Robyn O’Brien (mom, advocate and author of an Unhealthy Truth who’s 2011 TEDx talk has been seen nearly one million times). Taking on the shockingly entrenched and protective worlds of domestic violence and industrial food (respectively) has led to countless moments of personal sacrifice and outright threat for the safety of each woman. And yet they keep at it. Evolving the conversation each year and measuring their progress way beyond a balance sheet. Expect to see and hear a lot more about both in the year ahead.

(Someday I hope to host a retreat with these phenomenal women to both nourish and thank them… and, to be totally honest, to listen in on the poignant discussions they would certainly have with each other! Can you imagine…. ) 

4. The stunning beauty of the Virtual Choir

Here’s the deal: you just never know where something you are inspired to do may lead … especially these days! This story began in 2009 as a simple experiment in social media when one young woman – a fan of composer Eric Whiteacre’s music – recorded a video of herself singing “Sleep” and shared it on YouTube.  Moved by the video, Eric responded by sending a call out to his online fans to purchase Polyphony’s recording, record themselves singing along to it, and upload the result. Eric was so impressed by the result that he decided to push the concept to the next level by recording himself conducting ‘Lux Aurumque, asking Virtual Choir members to sing along to that, and thus creating the first Virtual Choir.

Now with more than fifteen million views, this phenomenon has reached all corners of the world, inspiring more and more singers to join each year. “Singers as young as six, as old as 98. Singers from as far north as Troms Norway and as far south as Hororata, New Zealand. Singers of every race, creed and color, coming together for one reason and one reason only: to be a part of something larger than themselves.” shares Eric.

As we sign off for 2014, we leave you to be jaw-droppingly inspired by this stunning achievement called Fly To Paradise, using 8,409 videos and 5905 singers from 101 countries!!

 5. You!!

There are many forms that elevating for greater good can take—from the deeply personal through to the desks of big enterprises—but at the core of it all, there is no denying we’re ushering in a human era in which having a heart matters. Many of you have shown us the potential of valuing mission over margin, purpose aligned with profit, trust as a meaningful currency, contribution vs extraction, and collaboration as key to innovation.

We’ve been invited into some pretty bold global strategy projects this year and so admire and eagerly support all those propelled to take meaningful action! Our intention with Cultural Acupuncture is to accelerate a collective consciousness around the important shifts taking place and an awareness that what’s to come can empower intentional change. Thank you for the spontaneous support and encouragement we’ve received here as we find our way ahead. Next up, how can we create more dialogue and conversation?

We invite you to consider the ways you, too, elevate for greater good? Is it finding purpose through integrating what you believe with what you do? Is it fostering and participating in communities of like-minded people? Is it being tasked with creating something bigger to serve an integral whole?

May you feel empowered by what you’ve accomplished in 2014 and let it serve you to be even brighter, bigger and more spectacular than you ever thought possible in new the year(s) ahead!

Wishing you a beautiful holiday, with love and appreciation,

Xo, Nancy + Emma

Stories we pinpointed this week:

Elevating for Greater Good

A Brilliant Work of Soaring Beauty and Magnitude

Data Collection that is Revolutinzing Global Communication (and Change)

Telepathy Made Real with the Brainwriter

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Play Big Inc: Inspired guides to the new economy

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