Last month, I shared the story of Laura Lavigne, the mastermind behind the Happiness Sprinkling Project. Much like Laura, I was connected to today’s spotlight through The Pollination Project, an amazing nonprofit organization that gives $1,000 seed grants to worthy causes every single day.
I am fortunate enough to be a part of The Pollination Project’s Global Kindness Initiative – a project that connected me to Laura and this next individual. I could talk for pages about the support, guidance, and love this leadership team has shown me, but I’ll let the work speak for itself. Without further ado, allow me to introduce Greg Acuna and Planet Earthlings.
Liz: Let's start in traditional Smile Project fashion - give me a "Happiness is.."
Greg: Happiness to me is the joy of accepting the moment and seeing the beauty in the world. It's there everywhere, but my favorites are watching my daughter, the sea, the act of creating, performing as a clown, and when spreading kindness.
Liz: Tell me a little bit about the organization.
Greg: My project is a dream of many years. As a boy I couldn't understand many of the problems of the world. For all of us to be happy it seemed clear to me that we needed to take care of everyone...and for me there just weren't any boundaries or borders. I've always seen people as people and if any of them are suffering it affects all of us. About 20 years ago I had the idea that the internet could be used to create educational experiences which would break down all those artificial barriers and help people embrace all that we have in common. It started as a short-lived website called Peacelings, then a massive animation/live-acting TV pilot called "Earthlings" which failed in 2008 with the global economic crisis. Three and a half years ago the dream was reborn as Planet Earthlings.
The goal of the Planet Earthlings project is to create empowering gaming experiences which are tremendously fun, but help people make the world a better place. We're creating a series of "Acting Kindly" games both as printed cards and mobile apps. The latest printed version "Acting Kindly @School" is soon to be released. We have also created the prototype of our educational virtual world called "Zarbul" where young people can study together inside a game with cooperation and collaboration.
At the moment I'm mostly working alone, but do have people joining the team from time to time.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Greg: I've always been convinced making the world a great place for all is the most noble of pursuits and now, perhaps more than ever, very much needed. I'm worried about our world. On one level I'm very much driven by the idea that I want to be able to look at my daughter before I die and say, "I tried. I tried to leave the world a better place."
Liz: What does "service" mean to you?
Greg: Service for me is taking the time to make the world a better place. That can happen in the smallest of kindnesses or in massive endeavors.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Greg: Were looking for help spreading the word about "Acting Kindly @School" especially in the US where we plan on starting a Kickstarter campaign for the game in late-July. Hoping to have "Kindness Ambassadors" all over the world who want to be part of the Planet Earthlings team and help us spread kindness all over the planet. Could definitely use help with social media marketing and we're open to all suggestions!
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Greg: I believe Kindness is going to save our world. We've become so busy and so greedy often we just don't have the time or inclination to help each other, but when we do it brings us such joy it changes our day. The beautiful thing is...it's contagious. Taking a little time to help others makes us happy and that happiness spreads.
Liz: What's your favorite quote?
Greg: “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
Spending time working with Greg in the past few months has opened my eyes to the world of global kindness. Greg is an extremely bright individual with an incredible ability to think of new solutions that ultimately make a brighter world for all of us. Make sure to show Greg and Planet Earthlings some love by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To read more about the project, visit the website here.
Liz: Do you have a last piece of advice?
Greg: Listen carefully to your heart and follow it. Not because anyone has told you to, but because it feels right to you.
Pictured: Greg playing Acting Kindly @School.