Notes for the future

Posted on August 31, 2010


These are the pre-notes I wrote in the morning and on the train the day before my speech at En Dag för Framtiden on Sunday 29 August in Stockholm, the follow up event to Rework the World where we launched the Representing Youth initiative. Both events were hosted by the Tällberg Foundation to engage in-depth with the topics of Youth, Entrepreneurship & Sustainability…

We are also doing a media harvest of the day, so will have some photos and videos for you soon on

The speech turned out rather different to the notes but it’s still an adequate basis for what was said, and a lot of the following did get mentioned..

⁃    So, “En Dag for Framtiden, One Day for the Future”
⁃    It’s great that we’re beginning to open up to these questions and have this platform to discuss them. So, I invite you into this conversation, even if it is just me talking for now – perhaps you can stick around and invite your friends for the open dialogue and open mic later, where we get a chance to hear you?
⁃    Ok! So what is the conversation?

I’m Nathan Daniel Heller from South Africa, co-founder of the Representing Youth platform and an emerging Social Entrepreneur. I also represent culturetalent, a platform to support social innovation through creative collaboration.. one of the tripod partners with Fanzingo and Young Investors

⁃    culturetalent ethos
⁃    what is our culture and our talent?
⁃    our culture can be seen as the conditions into which we are born that govern our worldview and perspectives of life. from family, to community, to nationality, there are many layers of culture.
⁃    the world is an immense tapestry of beautiful and diverse cultures. the value of our individual cultures is priceless, something someone cannot give or take from you. it is your heritage, and an automatic contribution to society.
⁃    similarly, your talent, is undeniable. it has been your guide throughout your life, teaching you from the inside out as you adapt to the cultures that raise you. it is what you bring into the world, and that which you have the opportunity to develop into a tangible contribution. it is your choice.
⁃    I believe that every individual has a valuable contribution to make to the betterment of society, if they so choose

⁃    social innovation through creative collaboration – calling questions:
⁃    how do we re-build a culture of positive youth activism, to engage in new methods of social renewal?
⁃    how do we work with power structures to create youth-focused policy-making?
⁃    what are the real challenges of the youth of today and more importantly, tomorrow?
⁃    what are the opportunities of living in a globalized society?

•    collaboration VS competition
•    for as long as we can remember, the cogs of society have been oiled by a passion for competition
•    the laws of human nature have ensured that we build our value systems on our need to compete: survival of the fittest
•    we see this in the world of business and in the governments of today, in the wars of the past and present, and in the economic downfall that now besets us
•    something needs to change
•    what patterns of working together in the current system do not satisfy us?
•    the symptoms of an unsatisfied way of working in society today are beginning to overwhelm us. wherever we look it seems there is the battle of modernity: materialism vs. the rise of a new, sustainable social development model
•    we are quickly developing a fear-based awareness of the global crises in all spheres: ecological, economical, sociological… all of it. does it need to be fear-driven social change? can we not feel confident about our future?
•    we are realizing that it is not an environmental crisis, it is a human crisis. for me, sustainability comes from the potential we create in each other. sustainable commitments, not sustainable development. critical connections, not critical mass. for me, the question of sustainability is: how do we relate to each other as human beings in order to realize a common future?
•    climate change is just one massive precursor of a potential extinction of life as we know it, say the doomsdayers
•    is this why we are here? to discuss the problems of today? or are we here to build on the solutions of tomorrow?
•    can we look at it appreciatively? instead of looking at everything we don’t have, at the problems we received from our parents, don’t we want to look at the world we are creating for our children?
•    could we engage in a culture of collaboration, that unites our intentions to build a world that nurtures us and not only demands that we work and live to sustain a hierarchical system of economic politics?
•    here in Sweden you are in the throes of electoral campaigns, which need to take into account the highest number of young voters yet, and this is not unique. the youth population is skyrocketing, even more so in “developing countries”. I have heard that in 2011, the ratio of human population under the age of 25 will reach 50% – there is a whole new meaning to the word “YOUTH” – so what does this mean? is it a wave of uncertainty sweeping the world, or a wave of opportunity? should we expect the worst, or anticipate a new groundswell of creative minds working together to heal the issues we face in our current paradigm? that depends on the choices we make.
•    what governs our choices as youth? look at the elections: do we look for the best promises made by the best political parties? or do we vote for a system that we can confidently and consciously be a part of co-creating? do we strive to work together to create the best practices for ourselves, or do we rely on the powers-that-be to always spoon feed us with unsustainable dummy-in-the-mouth solutions?
•    in northern countries there is generally a great social security and you do not feel the pressures of masses of marginalized people, but where I come from, in South Africa, there is a different picture on the wall. and the more i look at mainstream media, the less reflective i feel it is of the real world situation. there is some kind of false illusion of safety and security being built by the state. we are in a fragile situation. however, human beings have always been in some kind of situation, and throughout history we have built a consistent resilience and resourcefulness to survive – how do we now expand on this resourcefulness and work beyond our historical borders in an age of information and globalization? there are questions rising that humanity has never faced before… for instance with all this water, will there be enough for us to drink? just look at the floods in Pakistan…
•    the age of modernity is calling for a new type of resourcefulness.

▪    ‘the greatest sin is not hate but indifference..’ – George Bernard Shaw
▪    we have to engage with our peers like never before
▪    we have to encourage a new way of working
▪    we have to envision the type of change that is real for us
▪    we have to engender an attitude of persistence in the face of apathy, and strive to be our own superheroes e.g. Batman, secret worldsavers…
▪    we should be able to be loud and proud about our initiatives
▪    cool is no longer good enough – we need to be engaged
▪    doing something powerful for social development as a young person, not only satisfies you but empowers you
▪    and more importantly it encourages others
▪    and when we begin to take powerful action collectively, there is no limit to what we can achieve when we work together
▪    power over vs power to…
▪    we need to exercise our ability to engage in power structures by giving our power to new insights and innovations.
▪    and these innovations do not need to be planned
▪    they come about through the will and desire to do amazing projects together
▪    social innovation is an automatically emergent process, solving the emergency of our times
▪    business innovations are running wild, our creativity is pouring into the advertising industry, media hype, product development.. but bit by bit large chunks of society are beginning to channel this creative energy into a new form of problem solving.
▪    like Einstein said, you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it – and even more powerfully “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
▪    so we have to step out of our comfort zones, sometimes we have to forget about whatever it is that makes us feel content, and realize that we are in a world of complexity, feeling our way through the chaos
▪    this reality is one that the youth of tomorrow can become accustomed to rather easily – a consciously shifting paradigm
▪    where our leaders are no longer “our leaders”, but our leaders…
▪    we need to step up and be able to lead ourselves in this chaos
▪    that way we can lead each other in the questions we face
▪    personal leadership, critical connections, sustainable thinking, sustainable relationships, sustainable development
▪    sustainable YOUTH-LED development
▪    if it is not youth-led, it does not consider the future
▪    so let’s be considerate towards our future

▪    let’s make all our days a day for the future…

all text © Nathan Daniel Heller