Good people

There are good people in the world. You probably know some of them. They’re easy to spot because they usually “have a heart” for something. They have a heart for youth, or for justice, or for the poor, or for the environment, and then they go out and actually do something about it.

Me? I have a heart for coffee. Consuming it, I mean. I will go out and do something about getting myself a good cup of coffee.

I try to be thoughtful and generous about the way I live, but I am in quiet awe of those who make it their mission to proactively improve the world.

There are good people like Charlotte Hardy. Charlotte wrote a book of poems as a fundraiser so she could start a free art programme for at-risk teenagers. Her Friday Night Flavour workshops have just finished their first 17-week run at community centres in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.

When I wrote a book it was so people could say “I really like your book”, whereas Charlotte wrote a book so that she could do something practical to change lives. I am humbled by that. Look up Charlotte’s Ink on Facebook to learn more.

There are good people like Tauranga’s Good Neighbour Food Rescue. For various reasons, supermarkets have to throw away perfectly good food. The Food Rescue team intercepts that food and gives it to charities instead.

Not just a little bit of food. Their original plan was to rescue 12 tonnes of food in the first year. I asked one of the founders, John Paine, how they were tracking and he replied, “You could say we were in front of our projections.” In eight months they have already rescued 14 tonnes. That’s $98,000 worth of food diverted from landfill and donated to local charities.

When I go to the supermarket it is usually to get beer or chocolate – for myself. The Good Neighbours go to the supermarket for the community.

I’m glad there are good people in the world. People like Vicky who coached my son’s soccer team this year. She didn’t have to do that. Thanks, Vicky.

Or the guys who run the ICONZ programme that my boys go to each week. The other night they were dismantling household appliances with the kids. I’d never thought to pull apart a toaster for fun but apparently it’s the coolest thing ever.

I really appreciate those guys’ commitment to run the programme. When I get home from work I want a quiet couch, not a noisy church hall.

It can be trendy to suggest that humans are a scourge upon the earth, that we are nothing but trouble for the environment and for each other. I think that view undersells the amount of effort going on to make the world a better place.

There was the man my wife saw at a city café. He invited in a couple of homeless people and bought them lunch. It would have been easier for him not to do that, but he did it anyway.

It only needs to be little momentary things that inject some brightness into the day. I’d like to hope that one of the ways I contribute is by using words to give shape to intangible ideas. I like to gently prod people’s brains with a thinking stick. Not everyone can do that with ease, just as I’m not naturally inclined to dismantle toasters with 10 year olds. We each do our little bit with what we have. It all makes a difference.

You could fill a whole month of news with examples of people who have touched other lives for the better. There are some really good people among us, and that’s to be celebrated.


First published in Bay of Plenty Times 31 October 2014. Reproduced with permission.