I Am Because You Are
Thanks to a powerful network of good will, Project Ubuntu took me to 51 communities for one week over the past year, spanning every state and Washington, D.C.
Along the way I celebrated and supported groups of people who are dedicated to helping others. These heroes recognize that it’s not arguing about money or votes, but building human relationships and respect for every person, that are what make the difference. I deeply appreciate everyone who contributed to allow me to have this transformative experience.
In all I leveraged $20,000 from 250 donors to travel 42,000 miles, staying at no cost with 71 gracious hosts for all 363 nights. Here are some of the things you helped me accomplish:
I partnered with one organization in each location and visited more along the way, meeting with 63 executive directors and many other outstanding community leaders. In addition to a variety of volunteering, I delivered 49 workshops on leadership, identity and professional development, as well as speaking formally to 53 groups about my vision for UBUNTU in the United States.
I worked with and learned from many communities and initiatives focused on poverty, homelessness, addiction, education, childcare, music, faith, race, veterans, disabilities, disaster recovery, refugees, domestic violence, gang violence, farming, nutrition, health care, and the environment. With education of particular interest, I spent time in 58 schools for K-12 students, the majority of which were Title I (low-income).
Throughout the trip I considered the question, “How do we build ‘us’ without ‘them?'” and pondered the paradox in light of the notions of community, accessibility and group mobilization.
The project’s focus for the coming weeks is a book proposal, a short film and converting the website to be post-journey. Some highlights that come to mind from the year include:
- Serving lunch to Holocaust survivors in West Orange, NJ
- Preparing for and enduring Hurricane Sandy in Newark, DE
- Attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings in Atlanta, GA
- Meeting a 104-year-old woman in Mobile, AL
- Performing an original song with three Choctaw words in Choctaw, MS
- Visiting a youth detention center to deliver workshops in Georgetown, TX
- Reuniting with a childhood best friend after 17 years in Los Angeles, CA
- Spending three days in a tent on an organic farm in Oahu, HI
- Learning from the 2011 state Teacher of the Year in Juneau, AK
- Skydiving in Milwaukee, WI
- Speaking after the Governor of Massachusetts in Boston, MA (watch the speech)
Thank you to everyone who connected with this project over the past year!