Four years ago I started my Masters in Social Change. I started studying this field seriously for a few reasons, first of all because I was living in a village in the middle of no where and around me I saw a world that was fraught with poverty, poor education and a lack of health care. I studied by correspondence with the worlds slowest internet connection and intermittent electricity. I studied in between surfing and slashing rice fields. I studied in between wandering the local Pasar and eating off banana leaves. About 12 months into my Masters I realised just how naive I had always been. I looked at the world I lived in differently. I looked at the wealth of the village I lived in. The wealth of community. A kind of wealth that it is hard to find by just looking at the surface of western societies. A wealth that is often overlooked and undervalued by the constant need to buy.
When I returned back to Australia I was determined to find community.
As I was completing my masters here in Australia, with a faster internet connection and all the access to resources I could possibly need – I realised that often development and privilege comes at a price that is far higher than we have ever truly discussed. The price of connected communities. Instead of working together, we work in competition of each other. We compete in every area of our lives. We don’t celebrate each other often enough. We don’t come together to share what we have. We work for our own glory, for our own satisfaction, for our own financial gain – not for the growth and the good of the ‘village’.
My masters was very economics heavy, and while I was doing the economics units I remember thinking to myself ‘I will never in a million years use any of this,’ economics and me have never been great mates. But then one day, not all that long ago, I realised that economics isn’t just about data and dollars it’s about the way that we structure our communities, it’s about the way that we go forward, it’s about the way that we consume.
The Nothing New Project was born from these realisations. It was born from the desire to do more outside of my own perceived need and to connect in a way that I had seen people connect in that beautiful village. It was born from a need to push back against materialism and consumer culture. It was born from my primal desire to truly connect with other human beings. To be a part of something much bigger than just myself.
When I started the project I never thought that I would have the opportunity to tell this story in front of 2,000 people. I never thought that I would find such incredible connections. But I did. In one of the most transformative, whirl wind weeks of my life, something changed. I was able to put into words what this project was and I was given the platform on which to present one small (but very large) angle of my project.
What if we prioritised people over things. What if we built an economy that was about sharing and giving and connecting. Not giving up purchasing, because we all know that economically that is not sustainable in the big picture, but thinking differently about the way that we go about it. What if we used every purchase as the opportunity to connect with another human being? How different would our world look.
With connections come relationships. With relationships come community.
We are all in this together after all.