Stars in the StartSomeGood constellation share some of what drives their passion and purpose. Check in with Luke Pearson, Tom Dawkins, Kathryn Kreps and Stephanie Arrowsmith on what gets them out of bed in the morning and keeps them going throughout the day.
I asked this inspiring quartet how did they first become passionate about change-making? Luke said: “I have always been passionate about making positive changes in the world but I didn’t always know how to go about it, and I guess I am still learning things every day about the best way to get people to change their minds about a given issue, or to get active in causes they believe in. Once upon a time I was a teacher, and inspiring a belief that we can all have a positive impact in the world around us in big or small ways was the main reason I became a teacher, but really it was when I took to social media that I saw an opportunity to effect change on the issues I care about, just by telling my stories and watching it resonate with like-minded people around Australia and overseas as well.”
Tom Dawkins also had an early start in changemaking:”I grew up in a politically-minded household, but it was at the age of 16, during a year-old student exchange in the US, that I discovered my sense of purpose. I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend an amazing event in San Francisco – the State of the World Forum – as one of 32 youth representatives from 28 countries, which awakened in me a strong commitment to being a changemaker. The experience I had – of being included, empowered and having my voice heard – was one I felt strongly that all young people, and all people, deserved access to. While I had been the beneficiary of this system I knew the current model of “youth empowerment” was broken. It was haphazard, tokenistic and biased towards wealth. I felt we had to find ways to do better, to activate more people as changemakers and give them the tools, support and encouragement to help them succeed, and that’s more or less what I’ve been working on ever since, with a particular interest in how technology can create more accessible platforms for community-building and changemaking, such as StartSomeGood!”
Beyond systems and at the heart of all changemaking is people according to Kathryn: “I’ve always had what could charitably be called an overdeveloped sense of justice. From an early age I saw that people around me didn’t always have access to the same opportunities, and that never sat right. Over the years my activism has taken many forms, but I’ve never lost people-first focus.”
Making a shift from Indonesia to Australia set the scene for Stephanie to get her first taste of activism in high school. “I started volunteering for the Oaktree Foundation when I was 17 years old as an ambassador for the Make Poverty History Roadtrip: a national campaign to increase Australia’s contribution to foreign aid and increase public awareness around Australia’s role in international development. It was the first time I got to experience what it was like to be part of a movement that resulted in tangible policy change and action (our PM increased foreign aid to 0.5% GDP – an all time high for Australia!). This involvement with Oaktree led me to take up more leadership positions, align my studies towards international health and development and work in the field projects in India, Guatemala, Indonesia and remote Western Australia. After experiencing developments at the grassroots, I took up a role in campaigning and advocacy with Global Poverty Project in New York City – which gave me yet another perspective on digital activism on a global scale, working with multilateral organisations, corporations and world leaders to influence change. Since I can remember I’ve always been fired up about poverty alleviation, exploring solutions at a grassroots level as well as at a structural and policy level. Before moving to Australia, I was born and raised in Indonesia and was constantly exposed to extreme inequality that I couldn’t quite understand or accept, so it was hard to ignore. Getting a better education and having the safety of living in a place like Australia was not just an opportunity – it was a responsibility to do something meaningful with my life and to ensure future generations don’t have to face the injustices we have today.”