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Anatomy of a Change-Maker: Part 4

In Greece, people share in times of recession because they want to demonstrate their generosity; that their sharing is not determined by material affluence. The Greek word ‘meraki’ means doing something with soul, for love, to share. When you do something for love, the result is procreation, you have more then you had. Ultimately, love is sharing, that’s what ‘meraki’ means.

Alexandros Pagidas, philosopher and founder of Patreon, an online knowledge sharing platform.

Alexandros is one of 200 change-makers worldwide that I have interviewed for my forthcoming book, Generation Share. Published by Policy Press for Global Sharing Week 2019 (June 16th-22nd), Generation Share takes people on a much needed journey of hope to meet the change-makers who are building a society fuelled by Sharing.

Three years of research for Generation Share, has shown me that change-makers have 6 all-important character traits that make up the Anatomy of a Change-Maker. Previously, I detailed the first characteristic, being a Sharer the second trait, bravery and the third, adaptability. Today, I’m talking about love.

Change-Maker Characteristic Number Three:

LOVE: What’s striking about the change-makers I’ve interviewed over the last three years, is not only their love for people and planet, but how they infuse love in the delivery of their projects, initiatives, organisations, social enterprises, businesses and charities.

Traditionally philosophers weren’t paid for their work. Socrates said he treats wisdom the same way he treats beauty, when you ask for money for something beautiful, it’s like prostitution. When you sell wisdom it’s like prostituting the soul. This is why philosophical activity was in the spirit of love and sharing. Most creative people, once they’ve crafted something, share it. I believe that the motive behind sharing comes from creation. The ancient Greeks believed that it’s not the creator but the user that defines the value of something. In politics, it's not the politicians who legislate, but those who live under the policies who can assess whether those policies are good. I wanted to apply this idea to publishing online. I started Patreon, a place where you can upload your works and share them with the world. If you believe what I've written is of value, then you can become a patron, so instead of a financial exchange, we share, people can donate and subscribe to you, without prostituting wisdom. It’s only when people accept and promote these ideas that you can have a moral, cultural transformation, where sharing becomes the norm.

From online knowledge sharing platforms, to solidarity clinics providing much needed medical care to those who otherwise couldn’t access it and trust cafes, where you pay as you feel, love supersedes money. For the founders, creators and change-makers, this is a given.

The Trust Café shows money is not the only value, there are other things more important in life, that we should be grateful for. This is a place of love, where you get more than a meal. Trust creates value and is the basis of sharing. True sharing is about giving and not expecting anything in return, it’s about being open and able to trust. People come here and appreciate what goes into creating a café, from the volunteers in the kitchen, to the person who smiles at you when you walk in the door. This pay-as-you-feel place makes a positive impact on society.

Being a change-maker like Dejan Tomasevie, a volunteer and proponent of Amsterdam’s Trust Café pay-as-you-feel model, means that by focussing on the value that love creates, rather than commerce, a different kind of community model is created. Interestingly, the pay-as-you-feel model at the Trust Café generates more revenue than a standard menu priced establishment.

Those who can afford it, always pay way more, sharing the cost with those who can’t. On balance, more money is generated when the focus is on creating a place of love.

For Dr Olga Kesidou, a 52-year-old ear, nose and throat specialist from Greece, love is the only driver for her work. Along with 15 other medics, including a paediatrician, an orthopaedic surgeon and a cardiologist, she set up the Solidarity Clinic of Peristeri, treating patients who cannot afford to see a doctor.

We had a girl who came in, she was uninsured, unemployed, she was embarrassed and ashamed of her situation. She was treated, she got better. Afterwards, she offered to help us, she wanted to give back. We are a community, we share feelings, we share the satisfaction that we are doing our duty. We are professionals and we receive a lot of love from society and we want to remind them that they are not alone. We have already achieved miracles.

Of the 200 change-makers interviewed for Generation Share, all of them demonstrate that by making love a priority over commerce, achieving ‘miracles’, is possible. Like Dr Olga Kesidou, being driven by a love and care for others enables not only insurmountable challenges to be overcome, but ensures sustainability for us all.

The Solidarity movement is not about charity. It is about the belief, that tomorrow, you could be in the same position as the person you are treating today. My dream is for a better society. I don’t want to be paid by my patients. I want to live in dignity and share my skills to help others in need.

Generation Share will be published by Policy Press in June 2019 for Global Sharing Week. You can now pre-order your copy here.

If you are interested in change-making and want to take part in my #CHANGE! project email me or join the conversation on Twitter #CHANGE! @benitamatofska

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