Sam Sullivan is a serial social inventor. He is the Alexander Graham Bell of the disability sector who has now turned his curiosity and creativity to the civic sector. He has created more organizations than anyone I know. More impressive, most of them are still thriving despite his 'moving on'. Moving on is what he has done since leaving the Mayor of Vancouver's Chair a few years ago. He created the Global Civic Policy Society to explore and highlight how to tackle the complex challenges cities face – which in many ways are the complex challenges society faces. His Public Salons at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre attract full houses. Later this month he starts a new career as a lecturer at UBC's School of Architecture.
Here is his response to the question: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? Don't be surprised if it turns into an organization in a city near you! You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete collection of 58 essays including Sam's.
One idea I am exploring and that I would like to become more visible in 2011 is the concept of Greeting Fluency. As Vancouver becomes more multicultural with increasing immigration, many of our neighbours speak languages that are not understood by the mainstream. While it is extremely unlikely that many of us will become conversationally fluent in any of these other languages it is very possible for a great number of us to become Greeting Fluent. I believe that by being able to say seven short phrases in one or more of the languages of our neighbours we would accomplish much both personally and for the community.
By becoming Greeting Fluent we make a powerful statement of respect to our new neighbours and indicate an openness and interest in one of the most fundamental markers of their identity. By being able to greet our neighbours in their own language, we immediately build bridges and create an environment for developing friendships. The act of learning another language also creates empathy for our neighbours who must live and work in a strange language in Canada.
There is an old saying "learn another language, gain another soul". Learning some of the basics of another language gives deep insights into other cultures and other ways of analyzing and describing the world and this knowledge can be very enriching. Medical professionals often encourage people to learn another language as an effective way to prevent deterioration of the brain.
With benefits to both the community and the individual I hope the concept of Greeting Fluency will be more visible in 2011.
Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.