The Buddha of Oakland

Aug 5, 2019 | Blog | 1 comment

At times it feels like I’m surrounded by bad news: stories about what is wrong with the planet, how a decision ended poorly, how a service is broken, how someone has been wronged or how an expectation has been unmet. It’s the business I’m in I guess.

Without balancing that with the good that is also always happening around us, it is easy to be overwhelmed by cynicism. Soon enough all we see are shortcomings.

So about that balance. This past week on my blog has been dedicated to stepping out of the political morass and focussing on some of the other important parts of life: cooking, music, art, family and personal development. Improving the outcomes of the broader world starts with little improvements to personal ones.

That brings me to the story of Dan and Lu Stevenson and the transformation of their neighbourhood. A simple act of desperation to get people to stop piling garbage on a concrete meridian in front of their house has turned into a growing shrine where people stop to pray, meditate and otherwise clean themselves up.

If you are ever planning to visit Oakland or San Francisco then you might want to add “The Buddha of Oakland” to your list of must-see attractions. If you have no plans to be in the Bay-area, then I highly recommend the 99% Invisible podcast that tells the story beautifully.

Listening to cynical Dan recount how his decision led to an 82% decrease in crime in his neighbourhood brought a smile to my face. It inspired me to think about the minor, seemingly innocuous changes that we can make that may have a huge impact on the world around us.

You never know: maybe one day it will be your idea that is in the spotlight. Sometimes we just have to think outside the box to change the status quo, bust up the monotony and create a new normal.

Photo credit: Google streetview

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1 Comment

  1. Bruce Hyer

    Most media most of the time are only interested in Bad news stories… and simplistic bad news stories to boot.

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