Ambitious Sustainability and Sustory

Written by Tina Karme

Thursday, Oct 15

I am –  we are –  we ALL,  are and can be.

Hi, I am Tina. I am an introvert and a dreamer. I often hear that I live in my own little world. Most of that time it is OK, because most people know me here. My question is, would you like to join me? 

For a long time, I have been fascinated with storytelling. I tell stories, and I listen to stories. Stories come in all forms and shapes. We all have a story. 

This is a story on Ambitious Sustainability, a core part of Ambitious.Africa. And the best part of the story is that it is developing as we speak. You ARE a part of this story. And you can have whatever role in this story you want. And whatever role you choose, we welcome you, just like you are. For us, it is not important what you have done or how far you have got. We want to know where you are heading and support you in becoming a part of an ecosystem and a sustainable world. 

This is a story aiming to paint one picture of Ambitious Sustainability in Africa. 

In the beginning… 

Once upon a time, in Helsinki, Finland… no, wait. Does it matter? We live in the shock caused by COVID19. Almost everything has gone virtual. The world we knew doesn’t exist. 

Still, I am happy. I have just started my long term dream, of telling the story of a sustainable world, heading towards my dream, of painting that picture through storytelling. Sustory – Sustainability Story, is up and running, and I have some eager people with me. One of them, is Niklas. 

Niklas has invited me to familiarize myself with Ambitious.Africa, and to get involved with the launch of Egypt. I have the honor to share thoughts on education, a topic I feel very passionate about after many years of work on the UN PRiME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) initiative both at Hanken School of Economics and La Trobe University, Melbourne. Ambitious.Africa is filled with inspiring people, determined to make a change. The approach is 3E: Education, Entrepreneurship, and Entertainment. I sign up as a volunteer on this initiative – a small action will contribute to a better world. 

A decision today can shift our world tomorrow…

Ambitious.Africa has onboarding for all new volunteers to meet and express their interests. I was participating in one of these events on July 15th, 2020. Not long after the meeting, I receive a message that a person from the Global Team wants to meet me. I meet Maija. 

Maija is curious about my passion for sustainability. But what is sustainability, the word that gets used in so many places that it is actually starting to lose its meaning? We adopt the definition used by Sustory 

“Development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs “

(Brundtland Report, UN Comission of Environment and Development, 1987)

Maija and I agree sustainability needs to be at the core of Ambitious.Africa. Maija joins my world and welcomes dreaming with open arms. Now, we only need to find more people who will join us, and dream with us, and tell the story of Sustainable Africa. 

Recruiting a team was inspiring, and suddenly, the little world I live in, is getting more voices, more life, and more momentum. There is no turning back now, but why would we need to turn back? This is the beginning of a journey we do together. 

How much time did it take you ask? From meeting with Maija on July 23rd, to having a team for Ambitious Sustainability… 19 days. We had the kick-off with our Ambitious Sustainability team August 11th 2020. Ambitious, maybe…

The beginning of our journey… 

After our Kick-off the story has started to take form. We have passionate innovators who have identified the first parts we are working on: Nana – Storytelling, Kunal – Waste management, Daniel – Sustainable Start-Ups, and Therese on Events. But do not be fooled; we have a core team much bigger than this. It includes Helena, Naomy, Jennifer, Lucia, Iga, Christian, John, Ohene, Sesi, Amazing, Tariro, and Alexis. And our team is growing. We have support from many directions, internal and external. And we are only 2 months in. 

How did we do this? Because we are Ambitious and because we are tired of hearing that things can not be done, the SDGs not achieved, and the outcome of the story not changed.  We are the change and we love and embrace it with gratitude. Does it sound easy? It is not, but we are making it happen together. 

Our first stepping stone at the very start was a lack of clarity. What can I do, or what do you want us to do, as a frequent question. As a person who is living in the Nordics, how could I tell people born and raised in Africa, what sustainability means and should mean to them? The simple answer is, I can’t. But we were losing momentum, and people are losing interest and faith in our purpose. What should we do? Would it just be easiest to tell people what to do? How much freedom and how much hierarchy and management is needed? At what point is it more important to get something done than to wait for things to become clearer?

What did we do? We started to ask questions. We got curious. We didn’t want to give up, and start to tell our team what to do. Instead, we asked them to teach us. 

What do you think happened? After some while, a plan started to form, clarity and a suitable balance (for now) between structure and freedom is taking form. 

So do we now have it all figured out? No. The difference is, that now we are all empowering each other. In our conversation, I do still hear the word I. I use the word I. But the meaning of it has shifted. It could easily be replaced by “we”. I rarely hear, us and them.

Our learning path has started. Our unlearning path has started. 

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