Wednesday 20th June 2012, Charing Cross, London.
As we left the St Pancras Hotel, I approached a cabbie and asked him to pass on an invite to the first 'good' passenger he met. The interpretation of 'good' was totally up to the driver. All the Lucky Passenger had to do was agree for the cabbie to drive him or her to meet me for a few photos.....and pick up a bulging envelope of course. But more of that later.
We headed in the direction of Charing Cross Road. I'd previously visited Claire de Rouen Books in search of 'Soho' by Anders Petersen and as the title had sold out, Lucy went about arranging for another copy to be delivered to the shop within 10 minutes. Fantastic service and very much worth the short wait. While we chatted I mentioned the upcoming twitter treasure hunt and she agreed to help by hiding an invite in the shop. In fact, she was so helpful that I decided to go back and ask her to be a Lucky Person. And so, there I was.
The shop was busy, but Lucy remained courteous to her customers while managing to strike the odd pose or the camera. It transpired that she had some brilliant ideas for the money and I felt inspired by her plans, confirming my belief that Wearelucky really can reach out further than I, alone, could ever facilitate. We finished up the photo shoot, Lucy hid an invite and I went outside to tweet a clue....bumping straight into the next Lucky Person.
Questions & Answers
1. What were your first thoughts and feelings when propositioned with Wearelucky?
I thought it was a wonderful idea, not just because it empowers others to support those in need, who might not otherwise be able to, but because the generosity of the gesture restores faith in human compassion and connection. I felt very honoured to be asked to be part of the project. I also felt slightly uncomfortable, but I think this feeling just suggests how strange our relationship with money and the power structures that attend it is, and that perhaps we need to rethink our relationship to it.
2. What have you decided to do with the money?
I have given half of the money to my employee, a young, talented, committed and kind photography student. I'm planning to invest the rest in microfinancing, which means lending money to entrepeneurs who do not earn enough to get credit from a normal bank or lending institution. I also gave some to a homeless couple who I often see together on the street. Years ago the man was on his own, but he was joined by a woman recently and I remember feeling happy he had found someone to support him, and who he could support, in whatever way they were capable.
3. What were the reasons driving that decision and what are you hoping it will achieve?
I would like to foster an unconventional employer-employee relationship in the new small business that I run. I feel that friendship and financial reward should go hand in hand in a successful professional relationship and that both employer and employee can be satisfied in a relationship where the power imbalance is as small as possible. Microfinance can make a huge difference with relatively little money, and also has traditionally benefitted an enormous number of women. It will also give me the opportunity to reinvest the money when any loan I make is repaid, so that I can stretch the Thousand pounds further. Giving money to the homeless is sometimes discouraged because maybe they will spend it on drugs or alcohol, but I felt that I wanted to pass on some of the trust that is part of Wearelucky.
4. What does good mean to you?
Goodness fosters happiness, enjoyment, love, appreciation, human connection, positivity, security, health, political solidity and emotional maturity. I'm sure I could answer this question better if I spent a few hours on it!
5. Has Wearelucky challenged the way you think about giving?
Yes. It made me realise that I have huge capacity myself to give more than I currently do.
6. Why do you think we feel good about doing something for others?
Because we are social creatures. A philosopher called Michel de Certeau wrote that society constitutes the individual, rather than individuals constituting society. This has always felt very important to me.
7. What are your overall thoughts and feelings about Wearelucky?
I think it's very valuable in many ways, not just financially but because it causes self-reflection. Wearelucky challenges the dominant ways of thinking about money and human relationships. Who is a stranger? How quickly can a stranger become a friend?