How do you create the greatest place to live on earth?

How do you create the greatest place to live on earth?

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I like big bold questions. They inspire, and provoke a different way of thinking. For me, there is nowhere better to apply this type of thinking than to the place where you live.

‘How do you create the greatest place on earth to live?’ is the question I spend much of my time thinking upon. I have a 2 year old son, so that question is important to me.

There is an old African proverb that I very much believe: ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Like any parent, I want the best for my child. And since I have a slightly crazy way of looking at issues, I want to explore what the best village on earth would look like.

I may be biased, but I already live in a wonderful place. The Channel Island of Guernsey is truly one of the most incredible places to live on earth, by world standards.

Yet, like most of the world, we still have an education system that was primarily designed to support the industrial revolution; a health system that is reactive rather than proactive; a political system dating from an era when long distance communication was achieved on horseback. We still burn fossil fuels and live unsustainably, and we still rely heavily on ways of working and living that don’t make us happy. We regard them as good systems of education, healthcare, and government. Maybe not so good in terms of environmental sustainability. Certainly a good economy.

The trouble is that ‘good’ is the enemy of the great. Our acceptance of a good life is an excuse  for not striving for anything great. ‘Striving for great’ means the potential for failure. And traditional education and political systems are not designed to promote or handle failure.

A great deal that I have seen and experienced in this world leads me to believe that every community on earth is capable of so much more. We are not living up to our true potential. And I have a thing about human potential. It bothers me when I don’t live up to my own, and it bothers me to see potential go to waste, both in my own community and for humanity as a whole. It bothers me at all levels, which is why I spend so much of my time exploring the limits of what is truly possible.

If we are prepared to have a go and be bold, we are capable of solving many of the problems that we face. We are also capable of making much more of what we already have. The gap between what is being done today and what is actually possible is widening all the time, yet for reasons of comfort and safety we are not closing that gap. We are merely evolving out of the status quo very slowly, when all that is truly possible is galloping off ahead of us, into the distance.

There are truly inspiring, bold, community projects like The Downtown Project and Summit Eden already happening in the world, and I wish that my own community would raise the bar for what is possible. Those communities are boldly trying things. They will have successes and failures, but are already inspiring people to create a better world.

Yet they don’t have the starting point that my own community has. We are the perfect test bed for new ideas. We are the size of a town, as well as being a country in our own right. We have the resources to do incredible things, the freedom to make our own decisions and are of a size and scale to make it happen.

I am not someone who can sit on the sidelines without trying. Engaging in politics is not my thing, and neither is delivering something at grassroots level. In this case my specialism is bringing what I have learnt out in the world back to my own community, in the hope that it will encourage and inspire those who have the desire, skills and resources to do whatever can be done.

So, in that vein, I can announce that a small number of our community are launching a TEDx event in early 2014 to answer one question – How can we make Guernsey the best place to live on earth?

The purpose of this event is to challenge our local community to think more ambitiously about how we can create a better place for us all to live. We will showcase incredible ideas from around the world that already work and are delivering a much higher community impact than traditional ways of doing things. We will raise the bar for what is possible, in the hope that our community has the desire to reach for something more.

This type of event can be done anywhere. It involves searching the globe for ideas to solve local problems rather than just looking for answers under our nose. If we can do it, then you can, too. So I challenge you to think about your own community, just as we are challenging ours, and I ask you: how can you radically improve where you live?

I, for one, want to be able to look my son in the eye and know that I am leaving my community and my planet in a better state for him and generations beyond. One community at a time, we can all make the world a better place; not just for ourselves, but for those who follow us.


P.S. If you are involved, or know someone involved, in an innovative community project somewhere that has produced a step change in the quality of life, please . We would love to hear from you. We would love you to showcase your project in our community.

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  1. Hi Mark – more kaizen than step change however I have definitely noticed the benefits of these guys (huge screens for watching Wimbledon in communal areas / well organised / supported markets and festivals at key seasons + general sense of ‘localness’ experienced through all associated programmes etc): – local businesses contribute to a pot that is held by the council and then passed to LoveWimbledon who deliver community / improvement projects – may be worth checking out – keep up the great blogging 😉


  2. This is a great idea Marc and bold. You’re 5th paragraph resonates with a lot of the thoughts I have about the world we live in and gives an example of just where do you start. But just thinking about it won’t make it happen so thrilled to hear about the TEDx event. I work in strategy and sustainability for businesses. It would be great to see this actually turn into something tangible but to make it truly effective I think this kind of project requires an array of thoughts and minds to come together to be creative. From environmental engineers, to architects, community leaders, families, teachers, biologists, civil engineers, historians etc.. One exhibition that gave me hope at creating a better community was the NYC Moma exhibition which you can find here Would love to keep informed about how this plays out.

    • I couldn’t agree more Katie. We are very driven to build the event audience and subsequent movement that way. If we do our job right then you will hear more about it!

  3. Karen Friend Smith says

    Thank you is much for this Marc. I’m so glad our paths have crossed. You have just inspired me to be more bold in my own projects. Can’t wait to talk with you next week!

  4. Helping people to think bigger is why I get out of bed in the morning! Talk soon.

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