So here’s the setting: I’m sitting in the lobby of 680 CJOB waiting to speak to Dahlia Kurtz about Butterfly. I arrived 30 minutes early, because that’s just something I do sometimes. So I have plenty of time to think about what questions she might ask and how I would answer them, what key themes I want to stress, how I want to have a “smile” in my voice, etc etc.
I have about 16 minutes on air, which I know is not enough time. But I think, “If I had enough time, what would I say about Butterfly?” Where would I even start?
Is the start January, 2013? That was when I first met Marie Christian and her amazing group that form Voices: Manitoba Youth In Care Network. It was because I met them that I started to think around the challenges facing youth – not because of any deficiencies on their part, but because of all the untapped potential I saw in that room.
Or was the beginning point May, 2013, when I proposed to Protegra the initial concept of a crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing site aimed at youth to deliver community improvement and social activism projects. And they supported me to explore the area. And they never asked for a ROI statement, but instead asked whether I was passionate about the space and willing to work at this for years and still potentially not have it be successful.
Perhaps it was when I first started discussing the concept with youth in the Fall of 2013, and exploring how to test the concept without selling them anything. (more here)
Or perhaps the start was much earlier, back to my own experience as a teenager over 20 years ago, when I ran away from home at 15 for four months and slept on couches and in cars, as well as at various relatives houses. During which time I got expelled from school, got charged for a number of criminal offences, and performed hundreds of hours of community service. Back when I felt there was no one to listen, no one who truly understand the world I experienced and how I thought it ought to be. No true feeling of belonging or friendship – how isolating the world is even when your whole life is in front of you.
Maybe it’s because I see myself in these young people I meet, regardless if they are homeless or full of excitement to be heading to university. Perhaps it’s because groups like Marie’s, and all the other groups since, remind me that I, too, once had a flame – a spark – an edge that defined me as distinct and valuable to others and to myself. This flame needs to be nurtured and cared for, because once it’s gone it may never return. We know this, we see this every day. And this fact used to break our hearts.
So, perhaps it is all these things together that formed “my start”. Perhaps in some way I’ll always be trying to start. Perhaps you can start today.