Even the great Jason Fielding-Tweedie has learned a thing or two..

26 07 2009

It’s really been an amazing experience during the course of this entire project. I think I may have learned things about life and society that most people don’t usually ever get to take away from their typical university educations – probably their life experiences as well.

From the very beginning of this project we were feeling around in the dark for ways to tackle this social problem. Initially we dove into it with very giddy-headed ideals that we wanted to accomplish about our particular social problem. We had all these high-flying goals: lobbying businesses, starting magazines and who knows what else. We were quickly brought down to earth with sharp although very insightful feedback – courtesy of Professor Graham Dover and guests! If there’s anything we learned from those intial stages in our planning, it was practicality. I am very thankful for that.

We learned a few other really valuable things from that:

-for one, you need to really narrow down the audience of people you’re trying to help, if you’re operating at a small-scale level to begin with (and if you ever want to be able to actually implement your solution)

– you need to make sure your solution also has positive effects on the rest of society by helping this one small group of people.

Next was the actual implementation phase of the plan. It’s funny how as a group, because we each share a similar concern (ie: preserving human dignity of survival sex trade workers, keeping them safe) we managed to communicate that to each other easily and work very effectively around our differences of moral opinion and generally not step on each other’s toes. However, when we opened up discussion to the rest of the public, a lot of people failed to see the mandate of our project and get caught up in the morality of the industry. This was a very very big frustration for us because we initially didn’t intend for a moral debate on something so irrelevant to what we were actually trying to do. It was a very frustrating time trying to repeatedly make clear our mandate to others regarding our topic. At times it seemed that no matter what we were saying about being morally neutral on the topic of the sex trade, but rather being concerned about the safety and dignity of survival sex trade workers, people just refused to see it and threw it back in our faces. Not fun, but I’d say we did learn a lot about public relations and the way the public eye actually works.

A few more miscellaneous but practical things we did learn were:

– never underestimate the presence of beurocracy. Its presence is very real. But also don’t be discouraged. Plan for it well in advance, and work around it.

– Never underestimate human stupidity. After inquiring about what we were trying to do, somebody tried to persuade me to exchange a phone that we collected for two of his old phones, justifying it by saying we would be acquiring 1 extra phone. This gentleman simply missed the point of what we were trying to do.

– Never underestimate human love. We talked to a variety of people. Never before had I imagined seeing so many students from diverse backgrounds and areas of study who (after understanding fully what we were trying to do) were willing to give us their old cell phones, as opposed to say trying to sell them instead for personal gain. Yes, appealing to the human heart is a very effective way to get them to support your charity, but this only speaks well for humanity. Very beautiful to see. Makes me want to start a “free hugs for everyone” rally.

I think above all though I really learned how to aspire, no matter what. Now more than ever I really believe that where there’s a will there’s a way, as long as our intentions are oriented to the good.

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