Not Everything in 2016 Was Shit…


Let’s get real about a few things.

This has been a year of unspeakable chaos, death, devastation, conflict and disempowerment – and from the news of the past few days, it seems set to continue until the new years’ bells toll.

But if we just focus on those headlines – on the things that have been “taken from us” in 2016 – it’s easy to lose hope, hide under the duvet, and feel like we’re on an express train to the next apocalypse.

So if we want to make 2017 the year we stand up and fight for the kind of world we want to live in, let’s move away from the headlines, come out from under our duvets and take a moment to reflect on the small, grassroots, individual and community things worth celebrating from 2016.

We asked the alumni of our Before I Die Network workshops to share the things they want to celebrate from 2016.

This is what they shared.





Workshop attended: Aug 2016 (Connect)

Before I die I want to… become a UX designer and book a visit to a city I’ve not been to before. Do more yoga.

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

There are four developments that have defined my year in 2016:

  • • One: First year of freelancing and not making a loss
    I left my job in 2015 because I was unhappy. I spent the rest of that year figuring out what to do. I just went freelance, and have had a steady flow of jobs and income.
  • • Two: Working on a new career path – one that I’m excited about
    From attending a couple of life-changing workshops (including BIDN) I let go of some dreams and another path revealed itself: the world of UX design.
  • • Three: Being a vegan for almost a year
    Becoming vegan has played a fundamental part to my personal development this year, it’s taken me to question a lot about how I live, how I see the world, the ethical choices I take…
  • • Four: I’m 40, I’m healthy and content
    Somehow, upon turning 40 years old, I’ve let go of a soul-wrenching angst. I feel lighter, because … my focus has turned to what really matters to me…
  • Ah … and then there’s celebration. I decided to celebrate my birthday for the first time in 19 years. The reason being because life has to be celebrated. I’m thankful for the life I have, I’m in a place in time where I’ve come to a self-realisation of what I can do. It’s a simple acknowledgement to come to, but to see the world, and see one’s own life; not for what it is, but what to make of it, is a gift.

Read Vipul’s full blog here.



Workshop attended: Dec 2015 (Live Boldly)

Before I die I want to… be a person of international influence

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

In addition to completing the brilliant Spark & Mettle’s Star Track programme [for young people to discover their future career]…

  • • I interned with Clearview Research and Bite the Ballot, which involved helping at a workshop with Demos then assisting in the creation of an All-Party-Parliamentary-Group for political education
  • • I earned one of 18 placements out of 864 applications for the 4Talent work experience scheme to join the Channel 4 app division, and I was later featured in The Huffington Post – young women doing incredible things
“I co-produced a series of events at the Battersea Arts Centre’s record-breaking Homegrown Festival as part of their team with fellow young interdisciplinary artists, and hosted open forums exploring how to encourage more diversity in the industry.”
  • • I was invited to speak at Parliament, Facebook, Twitter plus others on access to technology, digital democracy and coding
  • • I travelled to 12 countries for the first time this year: Uganda, Lithuania, Sweden, Vietnam, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Scotland and China




Workshops attended: Sept 2014 (Make Change Happen), Jan 2015 (New Year, New Goals), Dec 2015 (Live Boldly), May 2016 (Mayday Mayday)

Before I die I want to… My goal for 2017 is to explore with BIDN how we can become Exponentially Human! I’ve been exploring how to help people figure out how they want to influence the way people and digital tech go forwards together now and later – which is what the “Exponentially Human” idea is all about.

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

  • • In 2016 I had even more freedom than usual to “be myself”
“Instead of judging myself by the standards of traditional organisations (where I have no place in the recognised hierarchy) I can choose to celebrate my pioneering zeal, my determination to follow my curiosity, and my decision (back in 2000) to embrace a low-responsibility, flexible-working, low-income, lifestyle.”
  • That approach was my response to the challenge of achieving a life-work balance, where I could do what I value.
  • • I feel less isolated now than I felt back in January. On reflection that may be because I began to feel more “mainstream” as my “tribe(s)” became easier to find and join. (NB: In this context the “tribes” I belong to are a bit like a collection of extended families, with multiple connections between them, so it’s easy to belong to several.) BIDN is one of my tribes thanks to what it does and how it does it (I don’t know anyone else leading such an enjoyable, fun approach to what could be existential anguish – you are amazing and inspirational).
  • • I contributed a chapter called “Exponentially Human” for a book called “50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years”. The chapter discusses how power, work and our relationship with digital technology will shift over the next 10 years. The idea is that as Exponentially Human people in 2027 we will be thinking together, imagining together, and combining our varied perspectives in ways that people in 2016 would have found hard to imagine.
  • So that’s me on your deadline of December 16th. Lots of challenges ahead for next year but plenty to look back on and celebrate – and the way different threads in my life are coming together, I’m hoping it will get much easier for me to write shorter posts in 2017. Seasons greetings to you and everyone in BIDN. Thanks for your inspiring encouragement during the past 12 months and for nudging me to take this time for reflection on personal positives and progress in 2016.

To read more of Pam’s reflections, read her blog post here.



Workshop attended: May 2015 (Make Shit Happen) – and every one since!

Before I die I want to… help social organisations succeed by providing strategy and business applications through human centered design, and to feel tangible impact from it.

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

“Getting to my goal that I set at your workshop initially by having a full portfolio of awesome projects with social organisations I’m working on!”
  • • Getting my mom moved to Spain! That took all of like 14 years
  • • Finding an awesome boyfriend after 2 years of crap dating in London and me starting to think there was no hope left (ugh, I’m making myself throw up. Cheese galore!)
  • • Having clients and projects come to me because of people recommending me
  • • Going to my first football game in England (Liverpool vs Barcelona!) and losing my voice because of it
  • • Winning the food & agriculture start up pitch for SafetyNet in Paris (and presenting in front of 2000 people!)
  • • Meeting fantastic people, and being grateful for the ones already in my life 🙂

So yeah. My life’s pretty awesome. No big deal.



Workshops attended: Sep 2014 (Make Change Happen), Oct 2014 (Shake Up The Status Quo), Dec 2015 (Live Boldly), Aug 2016 (Connect)

Before I die I want to… make my life and my work one cohesive brand using my various thisnow websites. I’d like them to transform into something that supports me and other people to. To change from living and working into being.

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

  • • This year, I stopped worrying so much
  • • I visited India and Japan
  • • I won a photo competition and a photo I took was published in a national newspaper


“Six months into the year – and after some pretty intensive soul searching and lifestyle changes
– I met someone who literally changed my world.”


Workshops attended: Aug 2014, Jan 2015 (New Year, New Goals)

Before I die I want to… find a sense of home, in myself and in the world. And to explore ways to offer others their sense of home, too.

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

  • • I embraced uncertainty by saying YES to good love and YES to more travel.
  • • At the beginning of the year, I realised that despite a massively enjoyable career and lifestyle, I was ready for more romance and love. Six months into the year – and after some pretty intensive soul searching and lifestyle changes – I met someone who literally changed my world.
  • • Through saying YES to being with my partner, I opened so many new doors I never expected at the start of 2016. I moved across the world (for the second time in my life), and in the last half of 2016, I had the privilege of visiting six different countries and double the number of cities, which showed me life, landscape and personality in a million different shades.
  • • Through my relationship and my travels, I have struggled and accomplished more than I ever really knew I could. I am so proud of myself for not running away from uncertainty and so committed to more YES in 2017.



Workshop attended: May 2016 (Mayday Mayday!)

The goal I set in that workshop… to travel in my own camper van

Things I’m celebrating about 2016:

I’m definitely celebrating finding Ruby, my new camper van!









Read more about Yaga’s goal here.



Workshops attended: July 2014, Oct 2014 (Shake Up The Status Quo), Mar 2015 (Break Free!), May 2016 (Mayday Mayday!)

Before I die I want to…  1. stop thinking I can’t be the greatest version of myself. 2. start my own community space.

Things I’m celebrating about 2016: Something I want to hang onto was finishing the London Marathon, in a time I was so happy with, across a city that has now become home, for a charity that feels really personal. Coming towards that finish line, I felt something that I don’t often feel for myself, but I was proud. I want to hold on to that.

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” – Carrie Fisher