“The purpose of life is a life of purpose”
– Robert Byrne, American Author
Creating a just and equitable future takes communities with diverse sets of skills and interests. What do you most enjoy? Ecology? Filmmaking? Chemistry? Data science? Farming? Policy? Communication? Social work? Writing? Economics? Cooking? Computer science? Architecture? There are countless opportunities to make change on your campuses and out in the world every day. The key to our future lies within us. Change happens when we all lean in — every discipline, profession and person.
You may not know where to begin with such a wide array of options to pursue. Today, we are excited to introduce you to a couple of philosophies that have been transformative for the Turning Green team in pondering questions central to our lives, particularly when thinking about what’s next!
First, Ikigai: a Japanese concept to help align your sense of purpose with a sense of meaning. Ikigai asks you to find the intersection of what you’re good at, what you love, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs. According to Ikigai, all of these are necessary to experience true fulfillment and value in life, so allow yourself the patience to focus your energy and find your calling — or at least your calling for now! Throughout life, you may change your mind about jobs, interests, or pursuits, but using the philosophy of Ikigai will help you better understand if you’re on a path that is right for you.
Another that we practice is essentialism. Essentialism asks you to choose “the vital few over the trivial many,” placing energy toward the things that really matter to you. By prioritizing where, when, how, and what you spend time doing, you can make more progress by focusing on the most “essential” things. No one can do everything, so focus on your essential intent. Do what is really important to you.
These two philosophies can be the foundation for changes small and large, in the present day and distant future, specific and meta. Do you like gardening? Are you good at it? Might you dedicate yourself to building a pollinator sanctuary in your tiny backyard that will promote biodiversity of the local ecosystem?
What about change on a broader scale? Take a look at organizations like Re:wild Your Campus, which focus on giving students the tools to advocate for organic landcare on campus. Groups and individuals that have found their Ikigai or Essential Intent, perhaps without even knowing it, can have a significantly greater impact on the people and world around them.
Think about the changes that could transform your school to be a more just, sustainable place. Schools, like any institution, shift because of empowered people, voices, coalitions and collaborative action. You are not alone; students all over the world are changemakers through many organizations, including our partner AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), which empowers faculty, administrators, staff, and students to promote sustainability throughout higher education, equipping leaders to solve the challenges that face our planet.
Student-led movements are powerful catalysts for social change. So look inwards to identify and live with purpose. Even if your actions feel small, know that a resilient future begins with you!
It’s time to think about your Ikigai. This is a lifelong process, and by starting today, you can discern what is most important (or essential!) to you right now.
First, check out this Venn diagram. Draw a copy of it on a piece of paper or digital platform, leaving enough space to fill in details from your own life. In each circle, write a few words or phrases to describe what you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs. It’s okay if you can’t fill in every box; finding your Ikigai is a process of learning about yourself, and this takes time.
Post an image of your personal Venn diagram on Instagram, as well as an explanation of Ikigai in your own words. Be sure to tag @TurningGreenOrg and #PGC2022.
Upload a PDF Document with your responses and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload.
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” – Leo Buscaglia, American Author and Motivational Speaker. Look back at the Venn diagram you created in the GREEN challenge. What’s in the center of it? If you haven’t yet denoted anything there, consider what you could imagine as your Ikigai, your reason for being, your purpose, something along those lines.
Identification of your ikigai takes time, let alone pursuit or practice of it. So let’s begin our process of discovery together. One of the first steps you can take is to imagine an ideal day.
Describe your ideal day in detail. Map it out by asking the following:
Reflect on what you learned by doing this exercise:
Close your eyes and envision yourself living that existence. Breathe. Smile. Let those emotions of alignment and happiness run through you. Take a selfie and post it to Instagram with one emotion that you feel when thinking about living your purpose. Tag @TurningGreenOrg and #PGC2022. Let’s inspire the world!
Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Student leaders are often at the forefront of change, all throughout history! From standing for racial justice in higher education to crafting movements banning herbicides on campuses, young leaders just like you are rising up locally and globally in support of safe, healthy, just local and global communities.
What environmental topics are you most passionate about? Now, put these in the context of your campus. How is your school performing? In what areas does it excel? Where is there room for improvement? What issue speaks to you personally?
Pick one area where your school needs to improve and where you are motivated to work for positive environmental outcomes. It’s time to plan!
In writing or visuals, answer the following:
Write up a proposal for your school around this issue that states the problem, plan of action, rationale, and solutions.
Get the ball rolling by posting your proposal on Instagram! Tag your school (any and all relevant accounts!) and @TurningGreenOrg, as well as #PGC2022.
Upload a PDF Document with your responses and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school on your upload to be eligible to win.
Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest outstanding submissions will be selected as winners.
Each winner will receive: