Celebrating 30 Days of Gratitude

Celebrating 30 Days of Gratitude

At StartSomeGood we have spent the past 30 days focusing on gratitude. Each day across our social media we have acknowledged a project, partner, person or community which has made our progress and success thus far possible.

This is important, because truly, without the support from so many people we would not be here. To often in business and life we get caught up in our own challenges and needs and forget to give thanks for what we have. And like everyone else, we have challenges. Running a social enterprise startup is hard. The crowdfunding industry is brutally competitive and the impact investing ecosystem very nascent. Our hours are long, our stresses are many.

But we have so much to be grateful for. 

On friendship and tribes

Image One of my tribes.

I’m writing this on the train from Vancouver back to the Bay Area, sitting in the glass-encased observation carriage as farmlands and forests sweep by, dramatically snow-capped mountains in the distance. We are in southern Oregon and it feels like every few minutes we cross another river near-bursting its banks. It’s all so lush and gorgeous, characteristic of the Northwest Forests I’ve had the chance to experience in recent days. Trains really are the best way to travel. While yesterday I had wifi from Vancouver to Portland this 18-hour stretch from Portland to San Francisco is offline, which I don’t mind as it’s a good time for clearing my head and doing some writing.

The past couple of weeks have been unusually stressful, with my visa to re-enter the US initially being rejected, stranding me in Canada with my pregnant wife left back in San Francisco and time ticking down to our departure from the US back to Australia, unable to help with the tasks of relocation or say goodbye to my friends in person. This is all thankfully behind me as I steam towards the Bay, with 17 days once I get there to finish packing and depart.

Despite the stress and frustration when in the future I look back on this time I don’t think this is what I’ll remember at all. Instead I think I’ll have overwhelming positive feelings about these two weeks, remembering the incredible support and love our friends showed both K and I, which managed to turn what could have been an awful experience into truthfully one of the most moving and uplifting of my life.

When we first announced the visa rejection on Facebook, the response was immediate and near-overwhelming. Offers of support and advice poured in. I was connected to Australian, American and Canadian diplomats, immigration lawyers, and people who had gone through the process before to get advice. I was offered numerous places to stay and people to connect with in Vancouver and Calgary. Our friends in San Francisco really stepped up to help K with packing up our house, at one point she had seven of them working under her direction, or just to deliver her food and offer her company and support.

Beyond these specific actions was the unbelievable sense of love, concern and solidarity we both experienced. When we could have felt very alone, kept apart by border and bureaucracy, we instead felt deeply connected to our community. It’s a feeling I will always treasure. Thank you to everyone who reached out and offered comfort during this time.

In the most practical and necessary way possible I also experienced incredible hospitality while in Canada. In Vancouver I stayed with a new friend who I had only met at a street party in San Francisco this past New Year’s Day. It’s not as random as it sounds, we share a mutual close friend who was at the party and she spent five years in Sydney previously.  While we never met we were part of the same cultural community in Sydney, the outdoor psytrance scene, and this sense of being part of the same tribe, despite having only recently met, was powerfully connecting, even as my intended 3 days in Vancouver stretched to 11. Last Saturday night we went to a psytrance party in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, and the feeling of the community there was reminiscent of the tribe we both missed in Sydney: open, fun-loving and expressive.

I had the same experience in Calgary, staying with a relatively recently-met friend who I share many social ties with, both having been part of the beautifully close-knit Burning Man community in Washington DC, but never having lived there at the same time. While in Calgary I also met a group of the local burners (Burning Man devotees) and the ease with which we bonded was both unusual and yet also expected.

The lesson: when you are part of the same tribe, you take care of each other.

I’ve thought a lot about tribes over the past several years, and it’s my belief in the power and abundance of our communities that inspires me about crowdfunding (or tribefunding as I increasingly think of it).

I believe a deeper sense of tribe is only possible when you share a form of cultural expression which is sub-mainsteam. In other words it is sub-cultures that form community. Sub-cultures tend to be based on participation, whereas mainstream cultures are based on consumption. Once a culture gets too big a certain level of intimacy and sense of connection and participation, of having something important and vital in common, gets diluted then lost. You can feel this even in San Francisco, where Burning Man culture has become mainstream, and the truly tight-knit communities are the next sub-cultural level down, groups of burners based around specific camps or sounds.

I also had the chance to connect with my other community, social entrepreneurs and changemakers, when I presented at events in Vancouver, Calgary and Portland, and loved the energy and passion of the people I met. I hope we’ll be able to support many of them on StartSomeGood soon.

It is my connection to these tribes, my pursuit of the subcultures I love to participate in, which has provided a platform for my last four years in America, which has allowed me to quickly make friends and find community in each city I arrive in.

I am so grateful for the support of friends new and old over the past couple of weeks, and for the tribes and cultures which connect us.

“True [dance] music consists of four main ingredients: a cup of spirituality, a tablespoon of love, a dash of togetherness, and a pinch of soul-penetrating beats.” – Bamboo Forrest.

So much to be grateful for

Thanksgiving is perhaps my favourite American holiday. The practice of stopping and giving thanks for what we have in our lives is important, and something we do too infrequently. The in-practice more universal Thanksgiving practice of eating as much as possible in the company of family and friends is also a highly-attractive element. This is my third thanksgiving in America and despite my lack of family here I’ve never been without an invitation to share the occasion with others. It was through just such an invitation that we met many of those who would become close friends in Washington DC. This friendship and generosity that has been repeatedly extended to us is something I am deeply grateful for.

There’s so much I’m grateful for this thanksgiving, perhaps because my life has been more difficult than usual these past couple of months, throwing into sharp relief things I sometimes take far too for granted. A little adversity sometimes helps us see things more clearly. Having things removed makes us aware of how much we really value them.

I’ve never really minded the sensation of missing people for this reason. I like having people to miss. Missing is a complex emotion but in part this longing for another is a sweet thing, for it indicates the presence on this planet of another worth longing for. This obviously has its limits, but as I miss my family and friends in Australia, another cluster of dear friends in DC and others scattered across the globe I tell myself of how fortunate I am to have these relationships, to have met this extraordinary community I have around the world.

I am grateful both for these friendships which mean so much to me and for the opportunities I have had to travel, to explore, to meet so many new people. I am grateful to have ended up here in San Francisco for a time, to be meeting the incredible people I’m finding here. None of these relationships replace those that came before as it becomes easier than ever to maintain relationships at distance, to find those you miss and spend new time together.

These last couple of months have been kinda rough for me. I am so grateful for those who have reached out and let me know you are thinking of me. It means so much. And I'm grateful for all those who have made introductions and helped me find new people and opportunities in a new city.

Ultimately any exploration of gratitude must come back to those who matter most: my parents, sister and wife. Within the magical web of connections that is this big little world they orient my life. They are the reason I am here in San Francisco trying to live my dreams. The reason I dream at all. In ways both practical and profound they have helped me believe in my own power to create the future, because I know they will always be there to support me, that it’s okay if I fall because they will help me get up and get going again. Thank you guys, so much, for everything.

My gratitude for all that I have is informed by my knowledge that so many have so little, that countless children grow up without either the opportunities or the support structures to live their dreams. That’s why this Thanksgiving I’m supporting Epic Thanks, a “global celebration of gratitude and giving that honors inspirational changemakers who create hope in our world.” Find out more at

What are you grateful for?