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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

How Can You Take a Small Step Towards Massive Action?

Posted by admin | January 10th, 2007 | Filed under Environmental Change, Outdoor Sport, Positive Change, Sustainability

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The answer might be: One step at a time. Literally. That’s what 24 people between the ages of 18 to 28 will be doing when they embark on the first ever human powered expedition from the North Pole to the South Pole. The goal is to raise awareness of global warming and other environmental and social issues during the course of their journey. What’s particularly interesting about this adventure is that the team at Pole To Pole intend to use the power of social networks to teach millions of young people around the world what they can do to stop global warming and play a role in creating lasting, positive change.

Picture 10.pngThe expedition will be split up into four interconnected teams. The Trek Team will make the actual physical journey from pole to pole. They’ll walk, ski, kayak and bike the entire way. The Advance Team will work on charitable projects in various parts of the world with the goal of improving the quality of life in the communities they’re working in. The Education Team will connect all of these efforts to schools in North America and Europe, enabling them to learn via a virtual association with the program and inspiring them to take action in their local community. The Virtual Team will follow the other three teams via the internet. They’ll receive online training in leadership and civic engagement and also set up service-oriented projects in their own communities.

Pole To Pole sounds as though it will be an epic journey. Perhaps I’m projecting based on my experience working with Outward Bound, but I suspect the participants will be strengthened by acts of consequential service to others and, in the process, become stewards of the earth for future generations.

7 Responses to “How Can You Take a Small Step Towards Massive Action?”

  • January 11, 2007 at 12:56 am | Ryan Roth says

    Oh how I love it! How inspiring, innovative and downright crazy. Such accomplishment for such change – could we ask for anything with more radness? I think not!

  • January 12, 2007 at 5:14 pm | Ian says


    Agreed. Pretty cool.

  • January 13, 2007 at 12:05 am | Yelena says

    Any chance I can join this team? How can I be a part of it?

  • January 14, 2007 at 10:09 am | Ian says


    If you click on the Pole To Pole link in this blog post it will take you to their website. There you’ll find all the details about the application process. Alternatively, you can Google Pole To Pole to find their site. Good luck!

  • January 14, 2007 at 12:29 pm | Brian says

    Actions such as this is great for awareness. But the real problem lies with the leaders of the top polution nations, such as China, Iran, Turkey, Soviet Union, Nation’s of Africa, and India. This type of action does effect your citizens, but it is the leaders of the world that need a swift kick in the ass!

  • January 19, 2007 at 1:06 pm | Tristan Bergh says

    There are many people out there who have changed the world just by working in their own sphere. That’s all we can do as individuals!

    Mother Theresa said it. Also, check out the Starfish Foundation, set up in South Africa ( http://www.starfishcharity.org/ ). It’s based on the story of the small child faced with an endless stretch of beach covered with starfish washed up out of the ocean. The child throws one back, and when told the task is hopeless, says “not for that starfish.”

    Rampant consumerism is the aggregated effect of many, many individuals. How about rampant sustainabilism? I am a vegetarian to add my consumption force to vegetarianism and remove it from killing. I am only one, but carnivorous friends are starting to eat vegetarian foods more than they would have.

    I drive a car that gets over 50 mpg in a city cycle, and I can tell people this. They realise there are alternatives, and I make a difference purely by example. I try to buy only products that are organic and recycled or recyclable. I like to think that this care in the focus of what I consume will make a difference.

    Sure these heroic efforts (pole to pole walking) are good at raising public awareness. Problem is, they are heroic. Surely people look at this and go – “I can’t do that!” and think that others will set it up because if there are heroes doing this now, there will always be heroes.

    The thing is to touch the awareness of each person at the moment they make a decision about their consumption.

    When a person wanders aimlessly down the aisles dropping their habitual choices into their carts, that’s the herd mentality. When the consumers prepare themselves to go out shopping they could begin to stop and think – wait – I can get this at the store in walking distance, so let me carry a few bags with me and walk. In fact, why don’tthey automatically think this way already?

    When they get to the store and they go to purchase vegetables and make an extra effort to check for local organic produce. There is a place in our thoughts where we carry an extra discerner that has put 2 and 2 together and realised the influence that each tiny choice we make DOES make a difference.

    Let’s make the assumption that we can do something that puts that small little extra thought into a large number of consumer’s heads. Imagine just 10% of Americans just stopping drinking soft drinks and switching to water. That’s 20 million people who won’t drink the 216 litres of soft drinks they would have each year. So 4.3 billion litres or about a billion gallons of soft drinks are NOT consumed over a year. Of course the corporate will assume that the marketing didn’t work and will actively attack anyone who doesn’t already consume their product.

    What drives our consumer choices? Advertising. My discussion is now headed into the tangled web of large corporate imperatives and how this drives the advertising that has such a large impact on us all. Let me sum up by saying that awareness and heroic effort is good, but we need to fight fire with fire. I agree that heroic efforts can be effective. Who wants to go against the giant advertising budgets? Who can?

    Who can get between our habitual responses (“Meat and 3 veg are good for you”) and our actual behaviour? How do we intervene in highly conditioned behaviour?

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