In celebration of Earth Day, I'd like to introduce you to Matt Hill and Stephanie Tait. These two remarkable individuals did more than just talk about changing the environment; they put their words into action. In a very BIG way.
Have a look:
This winter, Matt was kind enough to answer a few questions.
How did this idea to runrunrunrunrunrun develop?
That proverbial light bulb moment happened while I was 27,000 feet in the air on my way to an animation conference. I received answers to long-asked questions on how I could give back to the world with my passion for running, people and the planet.
I realized I was going to run a really long way, for a cause very important for us all. I knew I had to ask Steph if she would leave her life as she knew it to help me change the world by running for it. Luckily for me, she thought my crazy idea was just sane enough; she not only became my chief co-founder, but also ran miles that took everything from her to complete.
If we’d both known just how much we’d be stretched and challenged, far beyond what two self-described type A’s would take on, there might have been a second think on the whole idea. (I’m totally kidding!) Nothing would have stopped us once we decided to do everything we could to make it happen The wheels of destiny had been set in motion. We were stepping into an arena we’d been running and growing towards our entire lives.
Did you have a role model?
Terry Fox changed my life at the age of 10 when I witnessed him on his Marathon of Hope across Canada. Night after night, my dad and I would watch Terry grit and will his way forward towards his dream and reaching his goal. In my opinion, he’s our greatest Canadian.
How did you keep yourself motivated during that very long trek?
Our mission, the reason we were out there, is what kept me motivated and moving forward. There were so many human experiences along the highway. “Run Forrest, run!”, shouted from a passing vehicle, usually came at just the right time.
We spoke to 35,000 kids in 220 school presentations. Their care and concern left an indelible mark upon my heart. While we ran, their energy lifted our feet and kept us moving towards the next event or mile marker. We knew they were rooting for us to make it to their town. Their ebullient energy helped coin the motto, "Small Steps Add Up!" It became our focus with the Top 10 Action Steps.
What did you learn about yourself and each other?
WOW! So many lessons learned in every area of our lives. It challenged and stretched us to limits we’d never even imagined. Learning how to break through comfort zones within ourselves, protect each other from doubt, and learn how to respect how each other worked under a lot of pressure. All we’d known before about working hard for a dream beyond just ourselves was thrown out the door on December 9th, 2006. That was the day we decided to leave no stone un-turned and to do everything we could to inspire a continent with our message of action for the Earth.
What impressions did you form as you ran through Canada and the United States?
Canada and America are AMAZING countries filled with AMAZING “local heroes” in every place we ran. They took us under their wing, fed us and helped us move forward when the tour RV would catch fire or break down. They set up school presentations, community events and even ensured that we had access to showers! (Try going 6 days and 6 marathons without one!)
Did anything disappoint you?
My ONLY complaint between BOTH our countries: too many Big Box strip malls, and plastic bags and bottles littering the most amazing scenery!
I’m back doing “base run training” as the next endeavor unfolds. Follow me on Twitter for updates. We’re granting the very first “R41P Legacy for Kids - Green Dream” this May 8th - officially Run for One Planet Day in the City of Vancouver! All funds raised on our tour were invested with our charitable partner, The Vancouver Foundation. These funds grant a school’s “green project”, or what we like to call their “green dream”.
Change is Growing
Matt and Stephanie are advocating a change in awareness, a change in habits. Signs that the world is seeing growth in this area are as evident as the green shoots pushing their way up through the soil that has "winter sleep" in its eyes.
In 1987, my friend gave me my first green bag. It really was green and I used it for 20 years until it fell apart. I was often in a race at the checkout counter. I had to grab my groceries and put them in my green bag before the cashier loaded them into a plastic one.
Rarely did anyone use a recyclable bag. The cashier was not used to a customer bringing her own! Thanks to legislation and to customer awareness, that has changed. Cashiers have had the practice (established the habit) of using the customers' bags so they no longer operate on "automatic".
Customers are developing Earth Day Habits, All Year.
Tip 1: Place your personal shopping bags in the car where you can see them. If they're locked away in the trunk, it's much easier to forget them, as the habit has not yet been cultivated. The same goes for your portable mug.
Tip 2: Some of the new store-bought shopping bags are cumbersome, making them less-appealing to use. They don't fold up nicely and it's a struggle to quickly get them open for grocery-packing. I make my own, by creating a pattern using an existing plastic bag. They're guaranteed to fit on the bag racks at the store. My friends love them, too!
In 1936, Hans Selye, a Canadian researcher, defined stress as the non-specific response of the body to change. Given the changes we are witnessing in our environment, the Earth is also exhibiting signs of stress. It is important to note that it is not too late to change and learn new ways of transforming stress; both for ourselves and the Earth!
We are encouraged by Matt and Stephanie to remember that "Small Steps Add Up!" Change can take place, and it can start with a travel mug, recyclable bags or a walk instead of a drive to the store.