Stacey Monk is a woman after my own heart. She understands that we have to work together to bring about a better world, so she pours her energy into supporting people who are making positive changes already. People like Mama Lucy. Stacey is gracious, enthusiastic, savvy and compassionate. I’m a big fan of both Stacey and Mama Lucy and can’t wait for our joint Twitter chat on Tuesday.*
What is it that breaks your heart?
When we underestimate ourselves and one another.
What fills you with hope/joy?
The infinite potential inside each of us. And the idea that I might someday be a mom.
What are you doing about it?
Epic Change, a nonprofit I founded a few years ago, is meant to make grassroots changemakers seen and heard – to amplify their visibility and impact. My hope is that their stories remind us just how powerful we are – and of how our dreams can be realized if we invest the very best of ourselves to magnify the light in one another.
How did you get started doing this?
I lost my brother, Josh, several years ago and I started to wander endlessly – searching, though I’m not sure I knew then for what. My travels took me to Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo and, for a month, I stopped in Tanzania to volunteer. There, I found what I’d been looking for – a reminder that hope persists, even when you least expect to find it. I met my dear friend, and our first Epic Change fellow, Mama Lucy Kamptoni, a Tanzanian woman who had sold chickens and saved her shillings to build a school that served over 100 children when I met her. From what some would say was nearly nothing, she’d created infinite possibilities for so many.
Epic Change aims to share stories like Mama Lucy’s to remind us that we are hope, even when we think hope can’t be found. In gratitude for remarkable changemakers like her who create and restore hope in our world, and as an expression of our collaborative transformative power, we also bring together communities to invest in dreams like Mama Lucy’s school. On her project, we’ve now had nearly 2,000 investors who’ve joined to contribute over $150,000 for 7 classrooms, a school bus, a library, land, a technology lab and more at a school that now serves over 400 children and is ranked #2 out of 123 schools in the Arusha district.
What do you do to take care of yourself and to make sure your work is personally sustainable?
I wish I could offer some great secret of balance and restoration, but, sadly, the truth is I pour my heart into everything I do until there’s not an ounce left, then I give myself permission to rest. I just returned from a lovely vacation camping with my family. Someday, somehow, I’ll learn the secret of incorporating balance into each day. Until then, I figure, my decades are balanced
Do you have any advice for someone who dreams of doing what you do?
As I shared in a recent TEDx talk, I’m starting to believe that our dreams are only realized by one another – that there’s some synergy to the realization of our potential. In America, at least, there’s a sort of rugged individualism that pervades our culture, some misplaced sense that we should each be a self-made (wo)man. It’s simply not possible.
I’ve got a hunch that our dreams, our possibilities, and our potential are only realized when we invest ourselves selflessly in the dreams of one another.
I think we have to follow one another’s dreams – not only our own.
*Twitter chat with Mama Lucy and Stacey Monk
Stacey and I will be chatting on Twitter (use #zpchats to find us and join in with any questions you may have) on Tuesday 27 July at 16:00 GMT, that is 5pm in London, 12 noon in New York, 7pm in Tanzania (where Stacey will be) and (eek!) 4am here in New Zealand. This will be a double chat, Stacey and I will be joined by Mama Lucy, who I interviewed here last week. So don’t miss this chance to talk to two amazing and inspiring women!
PS: That gorgeous photo of Stacey and Mama Lucy is by Jen Lemen another amazing change-maker who we’ll be talking to here soon.