Service Just Because
I would say that I specialize in sustainable development and change. If I were to choose labels, then I consider myself an artist and educator. My work, by and large, is guided by the concepts of selfless service and environmental psychology. Above all, I am a humble (most of the time) student and in a constant process of learning through experience. My work is an expression of deep curiosity about the nature of things.
More practically, I do know how to treat poverty in its numerous forms. I love working in challenging environments — like slums and remote villages — and with underserved peoples, who inspire me greatly. My intention is one of service and my process is based on the Law of the Vital Few, i.e., what are the small changes we can make that produce the greatest effects, and those that inspire virtuous cycles of change?
So far, since 2009, my humanitarian programs have directly helped well over 10,000 people, but that's not the point and I don't really count.
I am a dual national of the UK and US. I was born in New York City and graduated from New York University with a degree in Philosophy. National identity is not important to me though, and soon enough, we will do away with them in favor of a more universal and unifying identity.
I travel constantly, am almost entirely sustained by generosity, and speak with audiences from time-to-time. I don't think there is a net that catches you. When you are ready to jump, it also means you are ready to fly. ;)
What Is a "LivingSmile?"
It's a term I came up with when deciding what to name this website.
If pressed for further explanation, I would say the term is based in an understanding (or trust) of the human condition I have. Namely, that every one of us — every one — has the potential to be perfectly at ease and content without need, worry, or help. Every one of us has the potential to live effortless and happy lives, i.e., to be a breathing, walking, and living smile.
I hold this understanding in every project I undertake, and everywhere I go. What greater gift is there to give than to help another (or even yourself) realize they are the gift they’ve been waiting for?
Values I Resonate With
- Nature or Earth First — Live in harmony with nature, then love naturally flows (really), as does harmony among people.
- Love What Is (outcome independence) — Seeing the utter and total perfection of the moment. If the moment is perfect, then nothing is lacking and there are no problems to be solved and no world that needs to change. This does not mean we turn cold to suffering — not at all — but curbs the desire to fix perceived wrongs.
- You Are That — You are already what you seek to be. Therefore, the greatest gift you can give another human being is to help them realize they are the gift they've been waiting for.
- Service Before Self — Most misery and struggle traces to the false belief that I must provide for myself. This belief causes competition, conflict, and disease. When you seek to serve others before your own self, you find your genuine needs becoming automatically taken care of and that there never again is a reason to worry.
- Simple Living, High Thinking — Or, the case for the village life. What we have now is complicated living and low thinking — to what result? Our material needs are basic, our inner needs for meaning and fulfillment are far greater. Let's build on that.
- Sadhana (devoted practice) — Everything in my life is an expression of an internal journey of self-discovery and realization. Partners, beneficiaries, donors, and volunteers all meet at this point, at the right time and place, and all receive something personal through our interactions.
- Personal Narrative — I place an emphasis on sharing my story and the stories of the people and communities I engage with. These narrative elements can, do, and have inspired their own ripple effects.
- Subtlety — Who says change always has to strike like a thunder storm? Can a gentle breeze by similarly impactful?
Am I Church Missionary?
I get asked this question from time-to-time, especially in Africa. The answer is no.
I am not aligned with any particular religion, political party, or philosophical tradition. I would not willingly propagate personal, political, or religious ideology under the guise of aid (it happens... frequently).
I care — deeply — and enjoy working with communities and people, as well as seeing the end result of projects realized and lives changed for the better. More than that, I do what I do just because. There is no choice about it. It's a calling.