we want some trash


I would like to share a story with you that I heard tonight over our Let’s do it! France dinner meeting.

On the upcoming Saturday, we – big part of the team and many other people – are going to clean a place in a Parisian suburb that is known to have a lot of trash. But it has occurred that the local authorities have planned their own cleanup of that place – but during the weekend after ours. So the Let’s do it France team has received probably the strangest and most surprising request in the entire history of Let’s do it… it goes: please leave some trash for us to clean as well! Don’t clean everything...



my sweet, stinky Paris

Champs-Élysées. Photo from Wikimedia

In the recent innumbered days, working like a mad squirrel on something that might be called a ‘media library’ for the globe cleanup thingy* –  I’ve come upon several jolly things. And I’ve had it to my eyes and ears with copy-pasting text, and taken it up again (because creating libraries is so, so much fun).

And then I crossed that ingenious article about us in the Economist (and my professional cretinism says that the site runs on Drupal; true/not?) and for the first time, I read the comments.

One of them goes like that:

I’d be happy to see World Cleanup descend on the 16th Arrondissement of Paris where there is a growing glut of discarded Christmas trees cluttering the pavements. Then again it may militate for biodegradability…

…and it gave me a good, good laugh.

For I am quite certain that wherever on Earth I happen to go, I will always remember my sweet, overcrowded, noisy, stinky Paris. It is not something you can forget. Especially when you’ve done your very best to avoid it for a couple of years, but still stay just around the corner all the time.

* this, now, was supposed to be a clever diversion to avoid getting caught by google alerts that are catching everything else related to that globe cleanup thingy for me & the library


I’m in my choir rehearsal again. A nice offline weekend – for once – to take my mind away the e-mails, problems and innovations that I’ve been going through, all the while waking up to the thoughts of what I would need to answer, and even dreaming about the html code, sometimes.

But even the choir weekend is over soon. Just before I step out of the door, one of my fellow singers looks upon the badge on my coat. It catches her eye. World Cleanup 2012, she reads, and asks me to explain. Oh yes, I’ve blabbered about it now and then to people, but the concept is still not clear, or maybe it’s just too outrageous.

So I say it all again. Illegal garbage. International. Teams. Cleanups. A lot of work. A lot of fun… and sometimes, no sleep.

What exactly are you cleaning, she asks. Beaches? Parks? Or what?

I stare at her incredulously and choke out the only answer, the only correct and rightful answer I know, because in reality, I cannot even imagine the outcome, but this word just embraces it all: everything. Everything. We’re going to clean the whole world.

She stares back at me even more incredulously and says: you’re making a revolution?


She’s French – if she says so…

feeling so small

Sometimes, even after an emotionally rewarding and utterly inspiring night full of amazing people and crazy ideas like clean-tagging the zebras of Paris…

… when I remember and realise the scope of the things we’re doing and the possibility of the hardships we might experience during this, and when I realise that I am and I do want to be part of the team that’s directly creating an event like that (and a thousand times bigger one),

I just get utterly and irrationally scared.

I don’t quite know what to do about this feeling, besides acknowledging, accepting and letting go. It comes back every now and then and freezes me all over and makes me question my true motives and reasons and reasonings and justifications. Sometimes there is someone who makes me forget, gives me an energizing kick or overloads me with real things to do so that I don’t have time to question.

And sometimes I just wish there was someone to hold my hand and tell me: yes, I know I don’t know where we are going, but I’m here with you; I will jump with you and we will fly together.

~ ¤ ~

let’s do it and big bang

On Friday the 16th, Let’s do it! World was officially launched with a press conference in Tallinn and global press release in about 5 languages (and god knows how many more it was translated into).

What is not often visible from behind the curtains, is the fact how much work is actually behind this one-day visibility in press and a maybe one-hour-long press conference.

Being quite certainly not the only one working the previous 48 hours straight and trying to chew through the priorities, I had to admit that I quite liked it, in a way. Maybe because when you know you’re in a hurry, then you work more effectively than usual. Sometimes these magical 48 hours make synergy and creativity flow and people show up and want to do something as well and then everyone’s working like crazy at 4 am or something; then getting a couple of hours of sleep and back in the track again. Or you can take shifts – some work at night and go to sleep at 7 am (guilty here…), exactly when others wake up and take over, starting to send press releases, newsletters and giving press conferences.

And before that 48 hours was… a full year, almost two. More than half hundred people giving countless hours, energy, ideas, free time, sometimes breaking, sometimes waking, but as a general beehive, still on the track, still building the future…

It must have been about two years ago – in 2009 – when the crazy bunch of Estonians, having managed to unite 50 000 volunteers to clean the whole country from garbage within 1 day in 2008, suddenly decided that it’s time to take it global.

And by now there are more than 60 countries who already plan a big cleanup within World Cleanup 2012 campaign or are creating team for that. I remember listening in to a Skype conference in 2010, perhaps, where they were talking about the numbers. I was quite new and felt I had nothing to say, so I was all quiet. Anyway, when “100 countries and “300 000 000 people” emerged, I probably thought something like: “Oh-oh. Crazy people. How will they manage that?”

Well, now we’re half way there, and officially we started only yesterday…

Friday was amazing. Seeing those news and things happening, mails coming; feeling that everyone is talking about our thing today, and feeling part of it, and feeling it bigger than ever.

And in between that frenzy of hope, joy and other emotions, I’m glad that I still found time to call a dear friend and talk about completely different subjects. Because regardless of my sometimes over-fanatical love for my job and the people connected with it, there are some other things and people that really make life worth living for me.

Sometimes those magical 48 hours put the life in perspective… and you suddenly can do and see everything that is important for you.

when you really desire something…

We’re sitting around the table and discussing what would be the goal of volunteers for France.

In Estonia, 4% of the population participated in the final cleanup. In France, 4% would make more than 2 million people. It’s utopic, says Patricia. Everyone else agrees: it’s unbelievable. We would make ourselves fools. Let’s take a smaller number. French – they are not able to cooperate …

Yet, I dream about 2 million. Me, an ignorant Estonian who has no idea of the policies and dreams of the French. Maybe that is why I dare to believe. Because in Estonia, impossible already happened. Singing revolution. Country cleanup. So I stubbornly believe that impossible can happen anywhere.

The only question is: how?

I remember of the big collective events of the Soviet Union – I didn’t see them any more, but the stories remain. In Estonia, many people hated the idea of the nationwide cleanup only for the reason that it was “just like Soviet time”.

So how do we do it so that people don’t think it’s something forced on them by the government?

We have to inspire them. I have no idea how but it has to be possible. There are guys and things out there who have alone inspired more than 2 million; more than 300 million people.

We’re six around the table. France is 60 million. Ten million people for each of us to inspire.

Homework for the next year: inspire 2 million people so that they would come out of their homes, believe in their ability to create a positive change in the society… and make it happen.

2 million people. I take it as my personal goal. French or not French; I’m in the global team anyway and communicate with many countries. I want my 2 million. It’s just a number. A scary number. But I don’t care.

The rest of the team agrees somewhere less than a million, I think… Not that I’m listening too much. I wish I could close my eyes, open my mind and just make it happen. The big change.

Paraphrasing Terry Pratchett, I can probably subconsciously hear a small crack somewhere in the Universe.

And I remember the words from Coelho’s Alchemist about how if you have a wish, the whole Universe will secretly conspire to fill it.

I’m kinda counting on that.

and i smile because

Having worked all week like crazy, I decided to take the weekend off. Well, almost off. It meant that for a couple of hours each day, I’d still be bothering people with my mails, ideas and whatever. But I think that taking time off and spending it outside actually contributed to my efficiency. During those couple of evening hours I started this blog (psssst! I never told anyone…) and tested our iPhone app, took a look on web stats and tried to draw some conclusions; and had some dreams where I was actually discussing my ideas with others.

Whew! @ the last one. Could say “addicted”, huh? No wonder when people ask me “how are you doing”, I reply: Let’s do it world! Then they listen to me for 5 minutes rambling about everything (basically: how cool it is) and then ask again: yes, but how are _you_ doing? And I say: oops, I don’t think I have a life any more :P

IDK if it’s good or bad. Kadri is right that I need to watch carefully and sometimes draw the line and take a day off. Go to sleep at a normal time, not work over midnight etc.. On the other hand, each morning I can’t wait to get up and get to the computer, to do things. Why? Because people are happy when I do things. Happy people = happy world. So simple equation. I wish everyone was like that! But it works really only when you have your Maslow needs satisfied. Meaning: home, food and nowadays: bank loan covered. And a boyfriend who is same fanatic about something in his life so that he can understand and accept that you’re glued to your laptop and he practically needs to drag you to eat every mealtime.

Sometimes I really don’t understand what fuel I’m running on. Passion? Fanatism? Love, maybe? Love for the whole world.

The funny thing is that I’ve done it before – overworked and out-burned, that is. Each time, I lasted for about a month. Now it’s almost 4 months of quite intensive workload and I don’t feel out-burned. Yet. Maybe because it’s emotionally so rewarding to work with all those people? We’re a happy tribe, in general. Although the world has its load of troubles, we are still smiling. I think it’s a good sign :)