Letter from the Editor: You’re More Like a Tree Than You Think

This fall, I visited New England just at the peak of the fall foliage season. Truly a sight to behold, this fall the colors were even brighter than usual. A local revealed that an early freeze, followed by a period of warmth, had yielded a remarkable expression of red, orange, yellow, and gold.

As I drove through the splendor of the season, I reflected that, in some ways, humans are not unlike trees, a comparison that might seem humorous at first, but, upon reflection, showed itself to be remarkably true.

We are each creatures of our environment, shaped by the people, ideas, and endeavors we encounter every day. And then, a shock to the system, an unexpected experience—either good or bad—yields an understanding that, once gained, cannot be unlearned. Over the course of a lifetime our perspective is colored and enriched by these experiences.

Over the past months, the Ebola outbreak has cast a pall on world events. The Islamic State in the Levant has gained power and ground, with no apparent means available to counteract this malicious force. In a world full of threats, it is natural to want to turn inward, to seek isolation, to preserve the status quo.

Yet, in a globalized world, isolation cannot address the challenges at hand. By embracing mindfulness and prudent curiosity, we each have an opportunity to foster understanding and connectedness that can leave each of us changed by the experience.

This fall issue is full of inspiring innovations, including how business is supporting the sanitation industry in Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia, how technology is aiding effective forest management in Brazil, how traditional shrimp farming practices are transforming the fishing industry in Vietnam, and how underutilized TV broadcast frequencies are being used to bring Africa online.

It’s also ripe with lessons learned in volunteerism, personal leadership, citizen diplomacy, and international development as well as provocative reflections on recent events, including the UN General Assembly, Commit!Forum, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In a world full of bad news, there is plenty of room for doubt. Instead, these pages offer great cause for hope in the personal transformation that is in progress, with more still to come.



Alicia Bonner Ness


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Alicia Ness

Alicia Bonner Ness

Alicia Bonner Ness (@AliciaBNess) is the editor of the The New Global Citizen, where she seeks to showcase the impact of beneficiaries and implementers alike, empowering all those engaged in furthering social good to learn from one another. She is also the Communications Manager at PYXERA Global.

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