My first task, on my first day working at STREAT, was to take an eighteen minute speech by our C.E.O, Rebecca Scott, taken at a TedX conference, and transpose it directly into a three and a half thousand word piece, including paraphrasing reference to visual cues made throughout.
Transposing a speech into a written piece faces a certain difficulty. This is primarily due to the disparity between the way that language is read and heard, as well as the use of body language to frame the use of language in a speech. Furthermore, vocal inflection can be used to punctuate sentences that don’t make grammatical sense, references to visual cues cease to apply when transposed and of course, the entire dynamic of a piece is changed by its format.
But that is not the point.
There is something that a speech can achieve that a written piece simply can’t. It’s a factor that I don’t believe is truly definable, but instantly identified. It comes about when somebody truly believes that something in the world is wrong and not only shouldn’t be, but doesn’t need to be. I had researched STREAT prior to my first day and thought I got it. I thought that I understood the idea of a sustainable method of helping the disadvantaged and a productive alternative to simply throwing money at a social issue. It wasn’t until listening to this speech, however, that I truly understood the point.
I saw STREAT’s defining factor simply as a clever business model that promotes sustainable work with disadvantaged youth. This is true. But, at the very beginning of her speech, Rebecca introduced the idea of a secondary, human quality in one's money that is not defined by its physicality, but rather the choices made in the way that it is spent. Something as simple as knowing what you are buying can change lives. $3.50 can make somebody even richer, or it can help somebody who has pulled themselves through a life they should never have had to deal with build something that they deserve. It sounds hyperbolic, but if I didn’t truly believe it, I wouldn’t be here.
STREAT exists, not simply to help people, but mostly to allow people to help themselves. It sounds so simple but I had managed to overlook it. STREAT is an incredibly clever concept that is rapidly growing and I had stupidly looked straight past the reason that it is all happening. This is what makes it so clever and this is why it is going to work. Allow me to say here that it is awesome to be a part of it.
I have 5-months of experience in the non-profit sector and I never got this feeling. At STREAT, I believe that I am working on a truly innovative project. Not only that, but I believe that this project will work. It is sustainable, economically viable and, above all else, already working. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t feel as though STREAT fights against homelessness as much as it is working on a solution to the problem.
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